Which is the champion video conferencing platform? In this blog post we compare Zoom vs BigBlueButton vs Microsoft Teams vs Google Meet.
Video conferencing platforms have become massively more popular over the last two years or so, for obvious reasons. Even as we manage the pandemic however, the use of video conferencing platforms will remain a significant part of people’s lives and e-learning in general.
Love them or hate them, video conferencing platforms or virtual classrooms, have helped save many institutions and businesses, and reduced our carbon footprint. But which platform is the best? It’s not an easy question to answer, as it really depends on what you are using it for.
To help you form an opinion, we have looked at several factors and chosen the best performing from four of the most popular platforms out there – BigBlueButton (BBB), Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
So which is best? Zoom vs BigBlueButton vs Microsoft Teams vs Google Meet.
If you’re using the platform for teaching, you need to view lots of information at any one time. Having to click through different windows can be disruptive, so which platform offers the best interface? Only BigBlueButton (BBB) allows you to view PDFs, users, video and the chat box simultaneously. In all the other platforms, at least one of these tools cannot be viewed at the same time as others.
- Presentation editing
A feature that allows you and/or students to edit a presentation on-screen is a valuable teaching tool. In our comparison, BBB and Zoom allow all users (teachers and students) to share and edit at the same time. Although there are workarounds for Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, collaboration in this way is not as straightforward.
The chat box is an important feature that allows teachers and students to chat privately or among the group, using text. This facility enables users to share and comment on documents. All platforms perform well in terms of being able to chat with the group, with Google Meet being the only that does not have private messaging features.
- Breakout Rooms
Group work is an essential component of any online training activity to facilitate discussion. Ideally, the trainer should be able to effortlessly set up and activate breakout rooms. All platforms offer breakout rooms, but only Zoom allows users to share private texts and documents within the group. BBB allows users to send texts but not documents. The other two platforms offer neither of these benefits.
Sound quality is paramount when delivering a virtual class. Again, all platforms are comparable here. If your internet connection is good, then there should be no issues. The only caveat to that, is if you are self hosting BBB or using a low cost hosting provider, make sure that the hardware can cope with the demand.
Online polls are a great tool for engaging your students and sharing a snapshot of opinion. However, they are cumbersome to set up on many platforms. BBB easily has the best performing polling tool, which is quick and easy to execute, and with the latest version allows anonymous responses from your audience.
When course participants miss a virtual training session or wish to review certain parts of it, a recording is the best way to address this need. Zoom offers the best service because you can choose to store your recording in the cloud or locally on your device. Others allow you to access a recording in the cloud, although it’s worth noting that the premium BBB package allows unlimited recording, storage and downloads.
The whiteboard is a great facility that enables students to write their ideas and responses on a shared screen. This is particularly helpful for brainstorming activities. BBB wins for ease of use and their multi-user whiteboard feature which allows users to draw or write simultaneously. The others are slower and need several clicks to set up.
- Document sharing
Sharing documents, such as assignments, is an integral part of the virtual classroom experience. Google Meet is the king here as it uses the prolific Google Docs to easily share, collaborate and comment on documents. MS Teams and BBB offer a limited sharing / commenting facility, whereas Zoom offers no specific document sharing tool. BBB also has a shared notes feature for anonymous note taking. If you are a Google Docs fan, you can of course share links to editable docs in all of these platforms.
As the video conferencing platform landscape is constantly changing, with new features constantly being developed, do let us know if we have made any omissions or if our information needs updating.
So which is best? Zoom vs BigBlueButton vs Microsoft Teams vs Google Meet. It’s a tough call, and we are hugely biased being involved with BigBlueButton since 2013. Honestly, any of these platforms can enhance your e-learning courses, however if you are looking for virtual classroom software that has been built from the ground up, and designed around the needs of educators then do give BigBlueButton a try.
If you need advice on integrating any of these video conferencing platforms into Moodle, contact Pukunui today.