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Video Conferencing

The University of North Florida has two options for meeting online courses in a synchronous fashion. Zoom and the Canvas Conferences tools are both integrated directly into Canvas and are easy and fast to use.


The Conferences tool used in Canvas is BigBlueButton. This is a collaborative tool that incorporates audio and video elements during meetings. It enables users to screen share, as well as upload documents to the session for participants to view, and can be used to hold virtual office hours, online presentations, distance lectures and other virtual meetings. Visit the Canvas Guides for more information on Conferences.


Zoom is a video and web conferencing service that can be used to host interviews, meetings large or small, and webinars. It works with Macs, Windows and mobile devices. Zoom provides remote conferencing services using cloud computing that combines video conferencing, online meetings, chat, and collaboration. Instructors can initiate Zoom sessions for an entire class through the integration with Canvas. Outside of Canvas, individual participants and external users can join Zoom meetings via direct links shared through email or calendar events. More information on Zoom can be found on the ITS Zoom page.

Zoom Versus Canvas Conference

UNF’s instance of Canvas provides two options for video conferencing, both of which can be accessed from the course navigation menu. While both platforms offer similarly interactive features, the following tables compare a variety of functionalities in order to help users select the tool that is best suited to the task at hand.

Detail Zoom Big Blue Button (Canvas Conference)
Recommended for Office Hours (Waiting Room)
Scheduling recurring meetings
Including non-Canvas users (Guest Speakers)
Saving recordings for long-term use
Class sessions with simultaneous use of interactive tools (polling, whiteboard, chat & video)
Student-led group conferences
Maximum Number of Users 300 None (quality decreases as number of people increases
Use with Canvas Zoom link on course navigation menu
Ability to add zoom meeting as a module item
Conferences link on course navigation menu
Instructor Created Meetings An instructor can create a meeting and all participants in the course are automatically invited by email An instructor can create a meeting and choose which participants to invite from the course
Student Created Meetings Students cannot create meetings Students can create meetings
Works with Canvas Groups
Recording Recordings can be downloaded or saved to the cloud Recordings are saved for two weeks and automatically appear in Canvas
Mobile Available only through mobile Zoom app Not available as a mobile app
Canvas Calendar Meetings are automatically added to the course calendar and to-do list Meetings are not added to the course calendar. Notifications at the top of the Canvas screen indicate that a meeting is happening
Use with Outlook Email client for Outlook- Can schedule Zoom meetings from within Outlook event and add link to join meeting No integration with Outlook
Breakout Rooms Must be in room to hear and see what’s happening Can listen without entering room
Co-host Can start session and do most things hosts can do Not available. One presenter at a time (presenters can switch back and forth during session)
Closed Captioning Allows you to assign someone to type. Must be enabled in advanced settings. Allows you to assign someone to type live captions
User Views Each user can choose their view and layout Users locked into one layout (easier to control what students are seeing)

Zoom Versus Canvas Conferences

Tools Zoom Big Blue Button (Canvas Conference)
Video checkmark zoom supports video
checkmark big blue button supports video
Audio checkmark zoom supports audio
checkmark big blue button supports audio
Chat checkmark zoom supports chat
checkmark big blue button supports chat
Screen Share checkmark zoom supports screen share
checkmark big blue button supports screen share
Advanced Sharing Options (files,iPhone/iPad screen, 2nd camera, etc.) checkmark zoom supports advances sharing options
no big blue button does not support advanced sharing options
Record checkmark zoom supports record
checkmark big blue button supports record
Whiteboard checkmark zoom supports whiteboard
 
checkmark big blue button supports whiteboard
Annotate Shared Documents checkmark zoom supports annotate shared documents
checkmark
Breakout Rooms checkmark zoom supports breakout rooms
checkmark big blue button supports breakout rooms
Polling checkmark zoom supports polling
checkmark big blue button supports polling
Allowing Participants to Rename Themselves checkmark zoom supports allowing participants to rename themselves
no big blue button does not support allowing participants to rename themselves
Virtual Hand Raise checkmark zoom supports virtual hand raise
checkmark big blue button supports virtual hand raise
Dial in with Phone if Needed checkmark zoom supports dial in with phone if needed
checkmark big blue button supports dial in with phone if needed
Shared Notes no zoom does not support shared notes
checkmark big blue button supports shared notes