Most online teaching companies come with their own built in software for you to leverage, making class an easy and enjoyable experience for both the teacher and student. But with China banning online teaching and a lot of teachers looking to manage their own classes, the question is asked: Zoom vs Skype, which one is best for teaching?
If you have no heard of Zoom before the working from home crazy brought on by C19, don’t worry you’re not alone. Started in 2011, Zoom was designed with the business person and online educator in mind at a time when online teaching was not developed.
Zoom is a high quality piece of 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?
Zoom is ideal for conference calls, meetings and teaching online if you have your material ready to go yourself. Skype is better if you’re wanting 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, it’s just not designed for the working professional.
So 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 natively
- The breakout room feature is very helpful
- Share multiple screens with ease
- Annotations and collaboration
Zoom can record the classroom
Zoom not only offers text and video chat (you can do calls as well), it also has built in recording features that Skype was previously lacking. 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 by contrast, there is now a record feature where you call is saved in the cloud for 30 days. After 30 days the recoding 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 personally like the ability to store recording 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 in which you can split the participants into as many separate 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 the secure link you provide them. 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 it comes to 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 years of age as they are often too young to have their own account. In short, to teach on Zoom the only thing your students need to do is download Zoom to their computers and click a link.
Skype allows this as well 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 setup recurring meetings in Skype
Setup recurring meetings with Zoom
A recurring meeting is where you set a specific, sharable link to your class that does not expire and allows you to host a class at the same time each week, month or for over a year. This is really helpful as an online teacher because as your students don’t need a user name 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 a variety of 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 right inside of a Zoom meeting and collaborate with your students from outside the room. Create a discussion with other users about your ideas and findings, complete with smart 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 a meeting 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:
|Price||$0 to $19.99 per month per license||$0 or get Microsoft Teams for business features|
|Meeting Capacity||1,000 students max||100 students max|
|Call Duration||30 hours||24 hours|
|Operating system||Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Android, Linux||Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Xbox, Amazon Alexa devices|
|Video Quality||1080p or less||1080p or less|
|Screen and Document Sharing||Yes||Yes|
|Can Blur Background||Yes||Yes|
|Join via Phone or Video||Yes||Yes|
|Meeting Transcripts||Possible with 3rd party integrations and on the business and enterprise plans.||No|
|Account Required To Attend Video Meeting||No||No|
|Customer Support||Online 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 amount of whiteboards and the amount of participants. For most teachers, the free version of Zoom is sufficient for weekly class sessions
Skype by contrast offers a popular ‘Meet Now’ service that’s more ideal for small teams and not a teacher, student format. If you are a business professional, then be aware that a lot of the business features of Skype have been moved over to Microsoft Teams, a feature-rich platform that surpasses Skype in most business situations that has replaced “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 free version of Zoom is far superior for practical application than Skype. This is not to say Skype is bad, it’s just lacking the helpful, educational features found in Zoom. In addition, the free version of both pieces of software is adequate for a teacher but Zoom with the breakout room, whiteboard and recurring meeting feature make it the better option.
Skype is encrypted end to end and has a good reputation for system security. All Zoom plans include both TLS encryption and AES-256 encryption for real-time content, which are both enabled during your use of the application. End to end encryption is available on all plans with Skype as well which secures communication between all meeting participants by encrypting data during.
Zoom’s security however has been called into question. When the platform was dealing with enormous growth as a result of C-19, Zoombombing, which is when an uninvited person disrupts a meeting, made headlines. To combat intruders, Zoom now provide 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 there are some key differences which make Zoom better like offering breakout rooms, recurring meeting, 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 going to be much happier using the Zoom platform.