I had done over 20 workshops using Zoom this year, and as a trainer and knowledge facilitator I tested different applications in order to bring the best experience for the participants.

There are few platforms that I will review today which help educators and workshop facilitators to do their job right.

Also, you can take a look at the Gartner report about different meeting solutions.

Zoom

Zoom was a small company almost no one had heard of a few years ago. At the moment, Zoom is really the hottest thing out there. No matter if you are government, small business, freelancer or a big corporation. Everyone had heard about Zoom and used it at least once in 2020.

What makes it to step out of the competition is its laser focus on one thing – making meetings seamless. As an educator, you don’t want to waste your time explaining how a software works to your participant, but focus your attention on the delivery and your learners’ journey.

There are still a lot of concerns related to privacy when using Zoom, which the company is slowly addressing.

One of them was the lack of end-to-end encryption. This means that the video conversation can be intercepted by 3rd party and used against you. In the learning context, this might be less of a worry. But if you deliver sessions to institutions and government employees, they might be reluctant or even being forbidden to use this tool.

That’s why you should keep this in mind and anticipate that you might not be able to reply completely on this tool.

Overall Zoom really has one of the best video and audio experience and you can configure it to compress the data and save it, or if all your participants have a good internet connection, you can enable the HD video meetings for even better quality of the video.

Also, Zoom is the only one software which from its early versions supports break out rooms. This feature helps to split a big group into a small one where the participants can work together to solve a particular task or a problem.

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • You don’t need to install anything to join a meeting, but it’s advisable to use the client
  • Supports breakout rooms
  • Superior video and audio quality

Cons:

  • It doesn’t support multiple co-hosts(fixed in current version)
  • Some institutions might not allow it’s usage
  • Other vendors might provide bundle offer with more things included

Microsoft Teams

For a knowledge facilitator, MS Team is an interesting solution since a lot of corporations are already used to it. It started with a different purpose and then because of Covid the investment in MS Teams increased and the functionality expanded to more and more use cases.

Teams provide user-friendly interface, although the naming of some functionality can be confusing.

For instance, Microsoft offers this tool for corporations, initially as an alternative to slack and then expand its functionality to replace Skype for business. Because of the fact that now they offer it for Universities and want to capture that market, the software is still very much optimized for corporations and the entire room concept with codes is not very easy to be understood for both university students and teachers alike.

Because of this confusion I would actually recommend it less if you are Educator and knowledge facilitator, compare to Google Meet or Zoom.

At the same time, it now supports Break out rooms and is usually offered with a bundle of a lot of storage and access to oneDrive as well as MS office applications. This bundle is quite nice and it might be worth for you, cost saving wise if you use all the MS ecosystem instead of paying for one tool at a time.

The other downside to mention is that video quality is still not a par with Zoom. So if video is a top priority for you, I wouldn’t choose this Software.

Pros:

  • Good price and offering, bundle
  • Privacy and security in place, widely recognized as more secure then Zoom

Cons:

  • Interface could be confusing
  • Video quality not so good as Zoom

Google Meet

Google meet is another favorite tool. A lot of non-profit organizations use Google suite and it’s a very much recognized software around the globe.

Google Meet strikes with its simplicity, which sometimes it’s too minimalistic. For instance, if you have an issue with the camera or mic, it is harder to change it once you are in a meeting. This is something you should take into an account if you organize such meetings. If your participants have an issue with their hardware, it will be hard to solve. It’s better to prepare 5 minutes in advance to help them solve any issues.

The other downside of Google Meet is that it doesn’t have any “professional” tools. The Jam board software which purpose is to support participants’ collaboration has a very outdated interface. The other big issue is lack of Breakout rooms support. It is still under development, but there are no clear expectations when this feature will be delivered and even how useful it will be.

Pros:

  • Many non-profit and small organizations are using it already
  • Clean interface
  • No need to install anything to use it

Cons

  • Lack of Breakout room support
  • Lack of any fine tuned options
  • Jam board and group collaboration tool seems like a student project and not something professional

SpatialChat

This is an interesting startup offer for knowledge facilitator. The thing is that there are researches done now that everyone is online and some people might experience the so called Zoom fatigue. This is named because of the popularity of the Zoom, so it might be not the best commercial for their founders.

The thing is, we are forced to look at the screen and even we might forget to blink or even walk a little bit, which is something we normally do in the office.

That is the reason why I did an experiment and delivered one of my training session using this tool.

There are also other alternatives that use similar concept, the main idea here is that instead of having your face and other peoples’ faces projected on our screen. You are using a small icon with your camera and depending where you move, you can initiate a conversation with a small group of people. It kind of simulates a real world environment.

Disclaimer, we tried this software with 10 people on another occasion with a team with whom we organized a conference for startups and this time it didn’t work well and we expected over 50 people to join. So in the end we decided against using it.

Nevertheless it might be good for you as a knowledge facilitator to try to combine methods which don’t always rely on your participants’ camera to be constantly switched on.

pros

  • You receive visual overview about the groups working together and can join with less flow disruption
  • Claimed, they solve the Zoom fatigue issue.

Cons

  • not stable enough
  • might consume a lot of CPUs power

Summary

Today you learned more about different video communication software, which you as a knowledge facilitator could use or already use.

They have pros and cons and no size fits all. My recommendation is to look at your customers and what they are used to. Because at the end of the day, you don’t want to waste a lot of time explaining how the software work or helping a participant solving their technical issues.

Look for software that is stable and covers your needs.

Would you add another software in the mix and if yes, which one?

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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