Despite the popularity of video conferencing software, a majority of which are free, educators have been slow adopters of using this technology in their online classrooms (Wankel, 2013). Video conferencing is inherently synchronous (synchronous learning refers to a group of people learning the same things at the same time in the same place), but with recording functions, it can become asynchronous tool. A lecture is an example of synchronous learning in a face-to-face environment and with the advent of web conferencing tools, people can learn at the same time in different places as well. For example, use of instant messaging or live chat, webinars and video conferencing allow for students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real time.

There are myriad video conferencing tools that are designed around this basic functionality. Where they differ are additional features such as screen sharing, remote desktop, meeting recording, and several participants during a meeting. 

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a powerful all-in-one platform that offers you an immersive human experience through your computer, tablet, or mobile device anywhere, anytime. A fully interactive web conferencing environment and asynchronous voice authoring capabilities allow for greater engagement so that you’re not missing a thing. The IDC strongly reccomends this platform for a few compelling reasons.

  1. Collaborate functionality is built into every course shell. With a few clicks you can have multiple meeting rooms with recording functionality in your courses. You can also set up persistent meeting rooms for your students who need only log into the class to access.
  2. Collaborate is a service for which EKU pays and can obtain support

You can use a robust tool set that allows you to web conference and connect with one student or your entire class. You and your students can collaborate using audio, video, and recording capabilities. You can also use private and public chat, a whiteboard, application sharing, a clip art library, and add and edit content at any time.

With Blackboard Collaborate, you aren’t just replicating the face-to-face experience, you’re adding a personal touch to online collaboration.

Resources for Educators:

Microsoft Teams

MS Teams is the preferred Videoconferencing application for all EKU business needs. And due to the cost associated with using other paid services, we reccomend instructors consider use of Teams ahead of other products external to the Blackboard LMS. Microsoft has a rich video tutorial library, and you may also contact the IT Support Desk, your instructional desinger, or faculty professional development manager Chris Daniel for assistance

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts (quick intro) is a free instant messaging and video chat platform developed by Google. It replaces three messaging products that Google had implemented concurrently within its services, including Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangouts, a video chat system present within Google+. Like Connect and Skype, Hangouts is available on Android and iOS devices. Hangouts allows its users to:

  • Hold group audio/video/text conversations between two or more users
  • Share YouTube videos and images
  • Screen sharing
  • Live-stream with Hangouts On Air

Here are several examples of using Google+ in online and physical classroom:

To use Google Hangouts, you and your students will need a free Google account. Once your account is set up, please follow these system requirements to start using Google Hangouts.



Zoom unifies cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings, group messaging, and a software-defined conference room solution into one easy-to-use platform. Read the Zoom FAQ. You can download Zoom from here


Wankel, L. A., Wankel, C., & Blessinger, P. (2013). Increasing Student Engagement and Retention Using Multimedia Technologies : Video Annotation, Multimedia Applications, Videoconferencing and Transmedia Storytelling. Bradford: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.