How to Choose a Virtual Conferencing Platform

The DOE approves the use of Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Teams Live Event, Zoom, and Zoom Webinar for virtual conferencing. Depending on your needs, you may prefer one platform over another.

Things to Consider

When choosing a virtual conferencing platform, always take the following into consideration:

  • How many people will attend the event?
  • Who will attend (for example, students, teachers, staff, or external partners)?
  • How much do attendees need to speak or be on camera during the event?
  • Does the event need to be recorded? 
  • Does the event need to be transcribed? 
  • Does the event need to be translated and/or interpreted? 
  • How long will the event be?
  • Will the event be run simultaneously with other events across the DOE?

The guidance below takes into account the above criteria. Also, the recommendations below assume that you will be using the DOE centralized version of Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet. These versions are configured to offer appropriate security settings and user management. 

Common Uses

To help you decide which platform is best for you, the Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT) has created guidance based on the most common ways DOE staff uses virtual conferencing platforms.

Impartial Hearings

An impartial hearing is a meeting of around 3-15 people, and hearing officers must be able to ask questions and parents or guardians must be able to respond. The parent or guardian will most likely sign into the meeting with non-DOE credentials, so allowance for non-DOE participants is critical.

Platform recommendations: Zoom or Teams. Both platforms are well suited for a meeting of a small number of participants, and all participants can have microphones and video cameras on at all times. All participants can speak when they want to, and mute themselves if needed. Both platforms also allow for recording and a stenographer to be present, which can satisfy the legal requirements for impartial hearings. People without DOE credentials can access a Zoom or Teams meeting, as long as you configure the meeting settings correctly. Also, if you set up several meetings at once, you should be able to offer interpretation. For more information on this, request a consultation with DIIT

Large Audience Presentation

A large audience presentation consists of presenting information to a large number of people. The meeting host must be able to limit audience participation to specific times and in certain ways. In other words, participants mostly view the event. However, participants should be able to ask questions and interact with the presenters. Participants do not need to be on camera. 

Recommendations: Zoom Webinar or Teams Live. Both are available within their respective platforms. The host needs to configure the settings. Attendees cannot speak or be on camera, but they can view the event but may include Q&A session via chat or momentary enabling of participant audio/video.

Public Meetings

Comprise of a vast audience with limited overall attendee participation. However, attendees must be able to register to speak on an agenda item or make general comments. Attendee participation may be by audio, video, or phone. Interpretation and translation services are required, often in multiple languages simultaneously. Meetings are recorded and transcribed. Examples of public meetings include:

  • Panel for Education Policy (PEP) 
  • Community Education Council (CEC)
  • President’s Council
  • Charter school hearings

Recommendation: Zoom Webinar. It is the only platform that currently allows for a very large number of attendees (500-10,000) that can participate via audio and video. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences 

Description: A parent-teacher conference is a meeting between teacher and parent or guardian to discuss a child's academic performance and experience at school. The PTC is also an opportunity for educators to provide parents and guardians with feedback about their academic progress, and what supports are available. 

Recommendations: Zoom, Microsoft teams, or Google meet can all be used for small audiences, usually comprised of one DOE participant and one or two non-DOE participants, however most DOE staff prefer to use Zoom. All participants require full interactivity and interpretation/translation may be available. 

Training Sessions 

Training sessions are similar to Town Halls, large audiences with limited overall participation.

Recommendations: Microsoft Teams Live Events and Zoom Webinar are the preferred platforms for large audiences with limited participant interactions. They are widely used for view-only events but may also include Q&A session via chat or momentary enabling of participant audio/video.

How to Get Started by Platform

Google Meet

Microsoft Teams Live Event

Zoom Webinar

Need more help?

If you read through this information and still aren’t sure which platform is best for you, reach out to DIIT for help. 

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