There are many webinar platforms available, each with different toolsets and associated costs. This page covers various considerations, with the aim to help you decide on a platform that’s best suited for your envisaged task.
Supported vs. Unsupported Platforms
Supported tools (as the name suggests) are supported by teams at the University of York and are subject to contracts agreed between the University and the vendor. This ensures prompt support (from UoY teams and vendors where issues are escalated), robust data security and agreed levels of service availability.
Unsupported tools, in contrast, are not supported by any IT-related team at the University of York, are not subject to an agreed contract between the University and the vendor and have no guarantee of robust security.
- Where feasible, supported tools should be used over unsupported tools
- If you are considering using an unsupported tool, refer to University policy first – Learn More: 4.5.1 Supported vs. Unsupported Tools
Centrally Supported Webinar Platforms at UoY
The University now has three different supported “web conferencing” platforms available, after various licensing extensions and purchasing activities in early 2020. Now available:
- Collaborate Ultra – Been available for years, nothing’s changed
- Zoom – Licenses purchased for all UoY staff and students in early 2020, before that wasn’t supported by the University
- Google Meet – Been available for years.
For a more guidance on choosing between these platforms, please see our “Which Webinar Platform Should I Use?” blog post.
Related help pages:
- University’s Collaborate Ultra Page – Support help: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01904 32 1131
- University’s Zoom Page – Support help: email@example.com / 01904 32 3838
- University’s Google Meet Page – Support help: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01904 32 3838
When choosing a webinar platform it is important to consider the requirements of those attending your session.
Individuals in China and an increasing number of African countries are subject to limits on what they can access over the internet. If you anticipate that members of your audience will be located in these countries you should factor this into your platform-choosing decision making.
Unfortunately governments can implement blocks very quickly, so it can be hard to keep up to date on what platforms do and don’t work in different countries. With this in mind, if possible, test your chosen platform in advance with someone based in the potentially-blocked country. You can use the greatfirewallofchina.org to check tool access in China.
- At time of writing (June 2020):
- If no viable alternative, consider recording your session and sharing the recording with individuals in blocked locations post-event
- Again, consider how you share the recordings:
- Recordings could also be downloaded and shared via another method, such as DropOff.
Aside from government blocks, users in very remote locations may have slower internet speeds which can stop access to some webinar platforms:
- Collaborate Ultra dynamically changes how much bandwidth it uses, making it a viable option for connections of most strengths. More information: Connection Troubleshooting – Tips for Using Collaborate on a Low Bandwidth / Slow Internet Connection
- Zoom “thick client” (ie. the downloaded version rather than the web browser version) may provide a more stable connection for very remote users, as it’s not forcing the connection to work via their device’s web browser (which has limits in and of itself).
Webinar platforms can have varying support for accessibility needs. Bear this in mind when selecting a platform, exploring the best fit for your students who may have a range of access requirements.
- Collaborate Ultra – Offers a number of different features to help increase inclusivity for users with differing visual, auditory or mobility needs, you can learn more towards the bottom of our Collaborate webpage
- Zoom – Offers similar accessibility feature support – Zoom Accessibility Pages [zoom.us]
- Google Meet – Offers screen reader support/navigation and automatic captioning: Google Meet Accessibility [support.google.com]