Quick Guide: Selecting a Web Conferencing Tool

Quick Guide Selecting a Web Conferencing Solution for Your Course

Web conferencing can be a great way to connect with your students and help build a community within your class. There are many tools available that can help you be available for one-on-one office hours appointments or hold large discussions with your entire class.

This summary provides a list of some commonly used free tools. Most of these companies also offer enhanced features for paid accounts. Please note that these companies frequently update their offerings and packages, so you should confirm all details before signing up. Cognella is not associated with any of the following companies.

Zoom

https://zoom.us
Number of participants:
 100
Time limit: 40 minutes
Screen sharing: Yes
Recording: Yes

Users with a free account can host video conferences for up to 100 participants, but there is a 40-minute time limit on meetings with three or more people. However, there are no limits on the number of meetings, so you can restart a meeting once you hit the 40-minute limit.

Participants can join via the web, dedicated apps, browser extensions, and mobile devices using iPhone and Android apps. Users can also call in via phone. Recordings of each conference can be downloaded and saved locally.

Skype

https://www.skype.com
Number of participants:
 50
Time limit: Unlimited
Screen sharing: Yes
Recording: Yes

Skype can host video conferencing for groups of up to 50 people, but each participant will have to download the Skype app for either desktop or mobile.

In addition to screen sharing, Skype has the option to turn on live subtitles. Any user on the call can activate the recording feature. All other participants will be notified that the call is being recorded and can save and share the recording for up to 30 days.

Google Hangouts

https://hangouts.google.com
Number of participants:
 10
Time limit: Unlimited
Screen sharing: Yes
Recording: No

Everyone with a Google/Gmail account has access to Google Hangouts. This allows for up to 10 people to chat in a video call. Participants can join a conference via email, shareable link, or through a mobile app.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, Google is making some paid features available for free through September 30, 2020. This includes video calls with up to 250 participants, the ability to steam video to up to 100,000 viewers, and the ability to record meetings.

Webex

https://www.webex.com
Number of participants:
 100
Time limit: Unlimited
Screen Sharing: Yes
Recording: Yes

Webex can host up to 100 participants with no limit on the call duration. Conferences include support for features like screen sharing, video recording, and file sharing.

Participants can join via website, dedicated desktop apps, or mobile apps. Webex allows users in 52 countries to use a standard telephone to join any conference.

FreeConference

https://www.freeconference.com
Number of participants:
 5 (video), 1000 (audio)
Time limit: Unlimited
Screen sharing: Yes
Recording: No

For video conferencing, FreeConference only supports up to 5 participants, but it can accommodate up to 1000 users who call in via telephone. Unfortunately, there is no ability to record your call with the free account.

FreeConference allows users to connect via a browser but also offers mobile apps for iPhone and Android. If your call will include international participants, FreeConference includes 15 free dial-in numbers worldwide.