We strongly recommend Blackboard Collaborate for conducting synchronous online or hybrid classes. The tool requires the least amount of setup to use. Typically, you can add it to your existing courses in less than a minute and it's ready to be used by the students and faculty in that course. It's intuitive and easily lets you take advantage of features like breakout rooms, polling, screen-sharing, whiteboard, and others. You can also easily invite a guest who is not enrolled to participate, such as a guest speaker. Sessions can be recorded and made available to students and an attendance report can be downloaded, including any polling results gathered during the session. CIT has been offering virtual training sessions for Collaborate every Monday and Wednesday or by appointment.
Teams can be used for classes, though for classes it requires more set up and training than Collaborate. We recommend Teams for Office Hours and virtual communication outside of class between colleagues, staff, and students. Every Eastern account holder has access and can look up contacts in the directory, quickly initiate a call either over chat, audio, or video, and invite others to that call if needed. Additionally, Teams can be combined with MS Bookings to create a more structured method of booking student appointments during office hours. CIT offers virtual training sessions for Teams and Bookings by appointment.
Note: Webex is still a supported Eastern service and is not going away, we just don't recommend it as the best solution for online classes
Eastern was fortunate to have Webex at the end of the spring term, but with the addition of Collaborate and the expansion of MS Teams, we no longer recommend it for classes or academic activity. The other two tools are designed for academic use and their features and integrations reflect that.
The Work at Home and Online Instruction Toolbox has Getting Started Instructions for these tools as well as a link to book training sessions with CIT:
We also have Pedagogical Resources and recordings on our SharePoint site located at:
Article ID: 621
Last updated: 20 Aug, 2020
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