Zoom vs Skype – Which One is Best For Online Teaching?

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 05/09/23 •  Teach Online

Most online teaching companies have built-in software for you to leverage, making class an easy and enjoyable experience for both the teacher and the student. But with China banning online teaching and many teachers looking to manage their courses, the question is asked: Zoom vs. Skype, which is best for education?

If you have not heard of Zoom before the working-from-home crazy brought on by C19, don’t worry; you’re not alone. In 2011, Zoom was designed with the business person and online educator in mind when online teaching was not developed.

Zoom is a high-quality software that offers a feature-rich free plan and helpful, teaching-specific features. Learn more about how to use Zoom if you’re new to online teaching.

What are the main differences between Skype and Zoom?

If your material is ready, Zoom is ideal for conference calls, meetings, and online teaching. Skype is better if you want to make international phone calls for cheap, chat with friends, and make one-off video calls for personal reasons. Skype is a good piece of software designed for something other than the working professional.

What are the main differences between Zoom and Skype that make Zoom an obvious choice? Here is what we’ve discovered from using Zoom for the past few years that make it superior to Skype for teachers:

Zoom can record the classroom.

Zoom offers text and video chat (you can do calls as well), and it also has built-in recording features that Skype needed to include. With Zoom, you can automatically record the class and save it locally or in the cloud (up to 5 GB) for your students to download at their convenience.

With Skype, there is now a record feature where your call is saved in the cloud for 30 days. After 30 days, the recording is deleted, so you, as the teacher, will need to manually download your online class locally if you want to store and share them beyond 30 days.

So depending on your style, Zoom or Skype may be better. We like the ability to store recordings automatically for students to download later without us needing to do anything. If 5 GB is too limiting, you can upgrade your Zoom storage.

Breakout rooms are essential now.

The best feature of Zoom for any online teacher is the ability to assign your students to work in groups via the breakout room feature. A breakout room is a Zoom meeting variant where you can split the participants into as many sessions as you like. Participants can be divided into these independent sessions automatically or manually, or they may pick and create their own.

The host has complete control over the session switching, can enter each breakout room to check on the students, and can limit the time for how long the breakout room will last. Skype, by contrast, has no similar feature as it was not designed for video conferencing.

No user names or passwords

Students can log into your online classroom using only your secure link. In addition, you can set a specific password for added security, but it’s not required. This allows for ease of use for both you and your students when logging in and attending class, as there are no passwords or user names required for your students.

This is equally helpful when dealing with young learners under 13, who are often too young to have an account. In short, to teach on Zoom, your students only need to download Zoom to their computers and click a link.

Skype also allows this in that you can share a specific link, and someone can join the call, even if they don’t have a Skype account. However, you can’t set up recurring meetings on Skype.

Setup recurring meetings with Zoom

A recurring meeting is where you set a specific, shareable link to your class that does not expire and allows you to host a class simultaneously each week, month, or for over a year. This is helpful as an online teacher because your students don’t need a username or password to access their Zoom class.

They only need a link to the Zoom class. So instead of sending out a one-time link that expires, which would require you, the teacher, to send out a link each week per class session, with Zoom, you can send out one link your students can bookmark that works for weeks, months, and even a year.

Whiteboard, annotations, and collaborations

When you use the Zoom Whiteboard, your ideas can be represented in various visual ways. Students may expand and clarify their thoughts utilizing sophisticated whiteboarding tools and work in pairs using the breakout room feature. Zoom Rooms for Touch is compatible with online whiteboards and Zoom client accounts.

Create a virtual whiteboard inside a Zoom meeting and collaborate with your students from outside the room. Discuss your ideas and findings with other users, complete with intelligent connectors, sticky notes, drawing tools, and comments. Consider using sticky notes to categorize information in real-time.

Use the share sheet to quickly post your online whiteboards with other Zoom users. Last, Zoom Whiteboards are saved automatically after a meeting, during, or outside of one. Any teacher knows the value of being able to use a whiteboard in a classroom.

Feature and price breakdown

Let’s breakdown some technical differences between Zoom vs Skype:

ZoomSkype
Price$0 to $19.99 per month per license$0 or get Microsoft Teams for business features
Meeting Capacity1,000 students max100 students max
Call Duration 30 hours24 hours
Operating systemMac OS, Windows, iOS, Android, LinuxWindows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Xbox, Amazon Alexa devices
Video Quality1080p or less1080p or less
Record MeetingsYesYes
Classroom chatYesYes
Screen and Document SharingYesYes
Change BackgroundYesYes
Can Blur BackgroundYesYes
Join via Phone or VideoYesYes
Breakout SessionsYesNo
WhiteboardYesNo
Meeting TranscriptsPossible with 3rd party integrations and on the business and enterprise plans.No
Account Required To Attend Video MeetingNoNo
Customer SupportOnline support, help center and tickets.Online support and help center

Plans and Pricing

Zoom has a free plan, and Skype is offered for free. Zoom also has various paid tiers, which allow you to increase your storage, the number of whiteboards, and the number of participants. For most teachers, the accessible version of Zoom is sufficient for weekly class sessions.

Skype, by contrast, offers a popular ‘Meet Now’ service ideal for small teams and not a teacher, student format. If you are a business professional, then be aware that many of Skype’s business features have been moved over to Microsoft Teams. This feature-rich platform surpasses Skype in most business situations, replacing “Skype for Business” as Microsoft’s video conferencing solution. The monthly fee for Microsoft Teams ranges from free to $12.50 per year.

For online teaching, the accessible version of Zoom is far superior for practical applications than Skype. Skype is okay; it just lacks Zoom’s helpful, educational features. In addition, the accessible version of both pieces of software is adequate for a teacher, but Zoom, with the breakout room, whiteboard, and recurring meeting feature, makes it the better option.

Security

Skype is encrypted end to end and has a good reputation for system security. All Zoom plans include TLS and AES-256 encryption for real-time content, both enabled during your application use. End-to-end encryption is also available on all projects with Skype, which secures communication between all meeting participants by encrypting data.

Zoom’s security, however, has been called into question. When the platform was dealing with enormous growth due to C-19, Zoombombing, which is when an uninvited person disrupts a meeting, made headlines. To combat intruders, Zoom now provides additional layers of security for customers. The company also made several privacy improvements as well as improved platform encryption.

Skype vs. Zoom for Online Teaching – Conclusion

Skype and Zoom are both excellent video conferencing platforms. They have many of the same features, but some key differences make Zoom better, like offering breakout rooms, recurring meetings, cloud storage, and the ability to upgrade storage and a whiteboard annotation functionality.

Skype is great if you need to make an international phone call or you want to have an alternative chatting platform. But for the specific use case of online teaching, you and your students will be much happier using the Zoom platform.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.