Learn@UW - Which Should I Use? Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Ultra, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Cisco Webex (UW-Madison)

There are a number of web conferencing tools available to UW-Madison faculty, staff, and students. This document compares the major features of five web conferencing tools: Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, Adobe Connect, Google Meet, and Cisco Webex.

Blackboard Collaborate is the official web conferencing tool of UW-System. Any faculty or staff member can create a session using either a Canvas course website or through their MyUW portal (For more information on Blackboard Collaborate, please click here).

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a newer, browser-based version of BB Collaborate. (for more information on Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, please click here).

Adobe Connect is a similar product to Collaborate, though it is only available to those who purchase a license. (For more information on Adobe Connect, please click here)

Google Meet is available to all faculty, staff and students through the campus Google Apps. You must activate a UW Google+ account to use Meet. For instructions on how to set-up a UW Google+ account, please click here.

Cisco Webex is available to all faculty and staff and will be available to all students during the Fall 2019 Semester. It is software that is installed on all UW-Madison computers and is also accessible at uwmadison.webex.com. For more information click here.

Features BB Collaborate BB Ultra Adobe Connect Google Meet Cisco Webex
 Max. # Simultaneous Video  6  5  15* 50  25#
 Max. # Simultaneous Audio  6  5  15* 50  25#
 Max. # Participants  unlimited  500  unlimited** 50  1,000
 Chat Feature   Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Can Record Session  Yes  Yes (mp4)  Yes   No  Not yet enabled
 File Sharing Capabilities  Yes  Yes  Yes  No##  Yes
 Screen Sharing Capabilities  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Breakout Rooms (Group Work)  Yes  Yes  Yes  No  No
 Cost  Free to UW  Free to UW  Depends**  Free to UW  Free to UW
 Integrated with Canvas  Yes  Yes  No  No  No
 Remembers Content  No  Yes (some)  Yes  No  Yes (some)
 Browser Based (no download required)  No  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes^
 Live Captioning  No  Yes  No Yes  Paid Service
 Students can Create a Session  No  No  No  Yes  Not yet enabled

* Adobe Connect theoretically allows unlimited video and audio, though no more than 15 is recommended simultaneously

** Adobe Connect charges by room size, the more people in a room the more expensive it is. Various departments and schools have purchased licenses for Connect. Check with your Affiliate Admin to find out if you have access to a license.

#While Webex Meetings advertises up to 1000 simultaneous video and audio, only 25 are visible at a time.

##While Google Meet has no native file-sharing feature, you can share files through google drive.

^Webex has both a Desktop and Browser based version. Attendees can choose whether to join via desktop or browser. Setting up meetings requires the Desktop version.

Other Considerations: While Blackboard Collaborate is the UW-System's official web conferencing software, it is also the most difficult to set up. Unlike Connect and Meet, Collaborate currently has additional software requirements, specifically Java, that make the initial start-up and log-in process a bit tedious. Though it requires more initial time investment up front, experienced users generally report a high satisfaction with Collaborate. Blackboard Ultra is much easier to use, but does not currently have all the same functionality of Collaborate. Blackboard is working on feature parity between Collaborate and Ultra.

Due to FERPA and other privacy issues, we strongly recommend you do not use other, non-sanctioned web conferencing software such as Skype or Zoom for any academic or university business.

See Also: