Web Conferencing Tools

Collaborate Ultra and Zoom both allow faculty to share files, applications, and whiteboards during web-conferencing sessions. Students can participate in class discussions using video, audio, or a built-in chat feature. Faculty should let students know the expectations for participation (come to the session prepared to discuss readings, actively take notes on lecture material) and conduct (use your video camera when speaking, mute your microphone when not talking, ensure your backgrounds and dress are appropriate for class) during synchronous sessions. Consider starting your synchronous sessions with a today’s class slide to remind students about readings, lecture topics, and upcoming homework or exams.  Below you will see a quick comparison o f some of the features in Collaborate Ultra and Zoom.


Collaborate Ultra

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a great option for web conferencing in your classes because it is built directly into Blackboard, making it secure, easy for students to access and the attendance feature integrates into the grade center for you.  You do not need to invite students, they already have access automatically.

Why Choose Blackboard Collaborate Ultra?
It has the following features:


  • You must remember to record at the start of each session – the university requires remote and hybrid classes to be recorded.
  • You can only see 4 student screens at one time.
  • Does not have auto-captioning becuase it is not sent through Kaltura
How do I Teach with Collaborate Ultra?
See our posts about Collaborate Ultra!


Zoom is a great option for web conferencing in your classes because it is integrated into Blackboard to allow easy access to sessions for your students. Because it is integrated into Blackboard, you do not need to invite students, they will have access to the sessions by clicking the link in Blackboard – which means it is important to set up the session links correctly in Blackboard. All recordings in Zoom will also be sent to your Kaltura My Media for easy addition into Blackboard.

Why Choose Zoom?

It has the following features:

  • Session Integration into Blackboard – by setting up sessions in Blackboard, faculty can create the sessions once at the start of the semester and students will have easy access to the sessions.
  • Breakout groups – create breakout groups for small group discussions, you can even pre-assign participants to breakout groups. Note that you must allow for breakout groups in the session settings.
  • Polling – Note that you must set up pollling before the start of the sessions and cannot spontaneously create a poll during the session unless you already enabled polling. Polls can be downloaded.
  • Hand raise function
  • Session setting restrictions
  • Ability to see up to 49 screens per page
  • Ability to share applications and screens including a whiteboard
  • Allows for up to 300 attendees per session
  • Easily add your session to Blackboard through Kaltura My Media – this also has the benefit of auto-captioning with Kaltura.
  • You can pre-schedule the recordings ahead of time when you create the sessions – no need to remember to record each meeting
  • You can download the chat from the sessions – be sure to go into the session settings and select this option, it is off by dedault.


  • The attendance is not integrated into the grade center.
  • Your Zoom recording will automatically be sent to Kaltura if you select cloud recording but you will need to manually add your recording to your Blackboard class.
  • If you have a class larger than 300, you can request a larger license. Licences are limited. You may consider using Collaboarate Ultra if you have more than 300 people in a single session.
  • Faculty and students will need to download the application.
How Do I Teach with Zoom?

You can set up your Zoom sessions through Blackboard.

There are also many useful Zoom tools for teaching

Here are some useful instructions from the Zoom help center.

Microsoft Teams – Not Recommended for Synchronous Web Conferencing in Classes

While Microsoft Teams is not recommended by the University for remote or hybrid web conferencing, it has a nice asynchronous chat feature that Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Zoom do not have. The chat function in Collaborate Ultra and Zoom are only able to be used synchronously. Teams does not have an easy way to do breakout groups on the fly.

How Can I use Teams for Asynchronous Activities?
Here are some features of Teams that can be used for asynchronous teaching:

  • Does not have breakout groups, though you can create a Team and then create channels to have breakout groups.
  • You can share documents and integrate Microsoft tools into the Team you create for class.
  • Students can use the chat and file share feature to allow for easy group work.
  • Students can also create meetings and set up impromptu video calls.


Why Isn't Teams Recommended for Recorded Class Sessions at the U of A?
The recommendation to limit the platforms came from the Remote Teaching Task force and the Academic COVID Committee. This was based on feedback from the U of A community.

1. Feedback from faculty and students was to limit the number of tools required for both faculty and students to learn (especially if students have multiple classes and multiple platforms to learn and remember).

2. Teams was considered to have issues with efficiency and ease of use with making content available in Blackboard, uploading videos to Blackboard, support structure on campus, etc.

3.There is a lack of integration with Blackboard.

4. there is limited storage in Teams and storage issues may occur with large numbers of recordings.