The University of Toronto offers several solutions for hosting video-meetings, either for teaching or for administrative work. This chart offers a quick comparison:
|Webinar and Video-Conferencing Solutions in Use at UofT|
|Service||License||Capacity||Access||Dial In Option||First Contact||Cost|
|MS Team Meetings||Institutional, Self-Serve||250 per session||Outlook, Teams, Quercus||Yes, Local||divisional IT/EdTech||none|
|Collaborate Ultra default||Institutional, Self-Serve||250 per session||Quercus or scheduled by|
|Yes, Local||divisional IT/EdTech||none|
|Collaborate Ultra Large Event||Institutional, Self-Serve||500 per session||Quercus or scheduled by|
|Yes, Local||divisional IT/EdTech||none|
|MS Live Events||Institutional, By Request||10,000 per session||By Request from ACE||Yes, Local||ACE||none|
|Zoom Pro Rooms||not institutionally supported*||300 per session||Consult departmental IT||possibly||divisional IT/EdTech||yes**|
|Zoom with Webinar Option||not institutionally supported*||up to 3000 per session||Consult departmental IT||possibly||divisional IT/EdTech||yes***|
|* may be supported by some departments||** not licensed institutionally||*** significant additional|
costs for large events
Team Meetings is the simplest and easiest solution to use for basic video-conferencing needs. TM can be used for one-off meetings, or for repeating meetings. The solution has basic screen sharing by a presenter, and an accompanying “chat” window for textual conversations (and the text transcripts automatically persist after the meeting). Because Team Meetings is fully integrated with Office 365 (the UofT email and calendar system), it is easy to schedule sessions, and participants do not need to have a UofT/UTORid to join. And if you are using MS Teams as your virtual work space, then launching a Team Meeting is even easier – literally the push of a button.
While not many instructors are using Team Meetings for their classes, there is no reason why they can’t; they need only schedule a session and share the link with students, and very soon, we hope to integrate Team Meetings with Quercus, to make it even easier for instructors to create video meetings with their class (for live remote lecture, video office hours, thesis committee meetings, etc.). And best of all, it’s completely free, and protected by our formal agreements with Microsoft.
While Team Meetings can be used for teaching, Collaborate Ultra, our supported webinar tool, is more popular with instructors at the moment. Relative to TM, Collaborate Ultra has additional tools, such as breakout rooms, and granular presenter controls, that make it more akin to a classroom experience. Collaborate Ultra is fully integrated with Quercus, making it easy for instructors to schedule and host events that automatically invites all students in a course, although session facilitators can also schedule independent sessions not connected to a course, and invite participants from outside the University. Like Team Meetings, there is no cost to use Collaborate Ultra at the University.
The default maximum concurrent participant number for both Team Meetings and Collaborate Ultra is 250, however, larger classes and events with up to 500 participants can be facilitated with Collaborate Ultra, by prior request, and coordinated through your divisional Educational Technology support group. There is no cost for these larger events; they just have to be pre-scheduled (as opposed to regular sessions up to 250, which can be done at any time).
Our third service is Live Events from Microsoft. This is a broadcast tool (rather than a discourse-based tool like Team Meetings and Collaborate Ultra), which means there is a presenter and audience. The audience can engage with the presenter via text chat, but the audio and video is one-way broadcast. This tool is very useful for very large classes or other live events. The capacity is up to 10,000 audience members. There is no cost to use this service for UofT staff and faculty, but it requires pre-arranged scheduling with ACE (see below), as running one of these Live Events sessions requires at least one support staff member in a “producer” role.
As an added benefit, Live Events can also serve as a remote, virtual “recording studio.” Instructors and staff who may be interested in having assistance recording a video for later broadcast or sharing should contact ACE to discuss.
Finally, you will have noticed that we listed a solution called Zoom on our chart above. We did so because we know that several departments have opted to license Zoom directly, and end users who are interested in this service should contact their departmental or divisional IT or EdTech group. However, we should point out that Zoom is not an enterprise supported solution, and, at this time, the University doe not have a privacy or data protection agreement with Zoom. Furthermore, Zoom is not integrated with Office 365 or Quercus, and users may incur costs not covered by the University, particularly for large events.
For more information, please see the following resources:
- A great document on choosing between the different solutions from our Engineering Faculty:
- Find your Local EdTech Support Team: https://q.utoronto.ca/courses/46670/pages/support#support-contacts
- Team Meetings: https://easi.its.utoronto.ca/shared-services/office365/teams/
- Collaborate Ultra: https://q.utoronto.ca/courses/46670/pages/integration-blackboard-collaborate-ultra-web-conferencing
- MS Live Events: please contact Academic & Campus Events: https://ace.utoronto.ca/contact.html
- Some information about Zoom Best Practices (as compiled by our Engineering Faculty with help from Medicine and UTM): https://hub.engineering.utoronto.ca/administrative-resources/it/zoom-meetings/