Which Should I Use? Blackboard Collaborate, Blackboard Ultra, Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts

There are a number of web conferencing tools available for UW-Madison faculty, staff and students use. Find out more about these tools, their features and how they might fit your needs.

Overview: Below is a quick-look chart mapping out some of the more important features of the three web conferencing tools. 

Blackboard Collaborate is the official web conferencing tool of UW-System.  Any faculty or staff member can create a session using either a Learn@UW course website or through their MyUW portal (For more information on Blackboard Collaborate, 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 Hangouts is available to all faculty, staff and students through the campus Google Apps. You must activate a UW Google+ account to use Hangouts. For instructions on how to set-up a UW Google+ account, please click here


 Features                                 BB Collaborate  BB Ultra  Adobe Connect  Google Hangouts
 Max. # Simultaneous Video  6  5  15*  25
 Max. # Simultaneous Audio  6  5  15*  25
 Max. # Participants  unlimited  100  unlimited**  25^
 Chat Feature   Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Can Record Session  Yes  Yes (mp4)  Yes   No#
 File Sharing Capabilities  Yes  Yes  Yes  No##
 Screen Sharing Capabilities  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Breakout Rooms (Group Work)  Yes  Yes  Yes  No
 Cost  Free to UW  Free to UW  Depends**  Free to UW
 Integrated with Canvas, D2L and Moodle  Yes  Yes  No  No
 Remembers Content  No  Yes (some)  Yes  No
 Browser Based (no download required)  No  Yes  Yes  Yes
 Live Captioning  No  Yes  No  No
 Students can Create a Session  No  No  No  Yes
* 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.
^Google Hangouts can be broadcast over the internet to an unlimited number of people, though only 25 people can be "participants" in the Hangout
# Typically Google Hangouts do not have a record feature. If you choose to broadcast a Hangout (Hangout on Air), you can record it and save it to your YouTube account.
##While Hangouts have no native file-sharing feature, you can share files through google drive.
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 Hangouts, 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 for any academic or university business.

See Also:




Keywords:Web conferencing, video conferencing, collaboration, adobe connect, blackboard, collaborate, google+, google hangouts, hangouts on air, office hours, guest lecture, ultra, d2l, Moodle, Canvas   Doc ID:45390
Owner:James M.Group:Learn@UW Madison
Created:2014-12-03 10:35 CSTUpdated:2016-08-04 08:59 CST
Sites:Blackboard Collaborate, DoIT Help Desk, Google Apps, Learn@UW Madison, My UW-Madison Portal
Feedback:  3   0