You can use a variety of tools for online small group discussions. We have outlined solutions, rated them for the effort required, and identified key considerations.
Before selecting a tool to host your next webinar, find out what you need to consider.
Before selecting a tool to host your next webinar, find out what you need to consider.

Experts & Communities

Participate in discussions and events with faculty, students, and staff who wish to integrate video technology into their work.

Good Practices

Instructors often use classroom discussions to promote sharing and ideas about a subject matter. Sometimes, discussions can become rote and tedious, or engage only one or a few students and the instructor.
Instructors often spend a majority of classroom time on lectures, leaving little time for other learning opportunities such as group discussion. Capturing content is one method to address this challenge.
Challenge When using pre-assigned breakout rooms, specific guidelines must be followed to ensure students are routed to their designated Zoom breakout rooms.
Challenge Using Zoom to meet with your students in real-time offers continuity and an opportunity to stay connected.


The Zoom for Canvas Integration allows you to start and join Zoom meetings from within Canvas. This article is for UMN faculty and staff who would like to use Zoom together with Canvas.
Compare the features of Zoom ( and Google Hangouts Meet (
Description Here's how to ensure video and audio connectivity in Google Hangouts using the Mac Mini and Logitech BCC950 "eye stalk" webcam in the 202 Johnston Hall conference room.
Before you leave If you invited someone to participate in the Google video call by calling their telephone, their participation in the video call is tied to yours.
The University of Minnesota's instance of Google Hangouts does not have a record feature.
Any Google video call (Hangout) will be restricted to the UMN domain by default, limiting the call initially to the participants from your domain. Here are three workarounds:
Google Hangouts is a web meeting service available to most people at the University of Minnesota. Google Hangouts Chat is a chat application similar to Slack or HipChat.
Screencast-O-Matic is available to all University of Minnesota faculty and staff, and to students EXCEPT those students who have 
Google Hangouts Meet may be a good option for alternative instruction. However, there are a few technical considerations to be aware of when evaluating Google Hangouts Meet.
The availability of new communication and collaboration tools have changed how we work together and communicate.
You can use a 3rd Party Audio Conference such as
When entering into a contract with Zoom, the University's Office of Information Technology ensured full review of the contract terms and conditions and Zoom's privacy policy.
You can share privileges with other people in your Zoom events.  This is helpful because it lets you focus on presenting, while someone else manages administrative tasks such as muting participants or managing the rec
You can sign up for free Live Remote Training Sessions facilitated by Zoom Trainers. 
This article assumes you are already in a meeting, having called using the Zoom app for Android or iOS.
This one-page guide provides some tips to get the most out of your Zoom meeting experience.
If your screen looks completely black during a screen share, it could be caused by your computer's Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) automatically switching graphics cards.
You can change the language displayed by Zoom on your Zoom client and the Zoom website.  The following languages are supported for Zoom clients:
There are multiple video layout options available for you as a host, co-host, and participant in Zoom. Layout Options There are 4 video layout options in Zoom:
Zoom provides several ways for meeting hosts to set up audio and for participants to join audio. As a host, use this article to inform your meeting setup.
Compare Zoom Meetings and Webinars to decide which tool is best for your needs.  
The HCC, or Health Care Component, is a group of faculty, students, or staff who work closely with private health information and are subject to a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with Zoom to ensure HIPAA complian
A basic version of Zoom is available for free.  However, the University of Minnesota's version of Zoom lets users take advantage of several additional features.
As a meeting host, you can split meeting participants into breakout rooms when scheduling the meeting.
You can create or add a passcode to meetings in order to protect your Zoom meeting or webinar from disruption.  There are three common ways to create a Zoom meeting:
Use this feature if you want to let someone else host a meeting or webinar that you have scheduled. This may be helpful if you are out of the office or late to your meeting or webinar.
You do not need a webcam in order to join a Zoom meeting or webinar.  Without a webcam, you will not be able to transmit video.  Things you will be able to do include:
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records and personally identifying information.
If you have a desktop computer, a laptop, or a mobile device (either Android or iOS), it is likely that you are already equipped to take full advantage of Zoom's features.  
This article details known error messages and their fixes.  If you receive an error that is not listed here, consult the
As a meeting host, you can view or download a roster of meeting participants.
There are two Zoom account types at the University of Minnesota:  
Zoom can change the way you teach and interact with learners, by giving you the ability to hold online office hours with learners anywhere in the world on a one-time or recurring basis.
Host controls allow you as the host or co-host to control various aspects of the Zoom Meeting or Webinar, such as managing the participants. Host controls include but are not limited to:
The host key is a 6-digit PIN tied to your Zoom account. It is not meeting-specific.  You can use your host key to claim host privileges in the following circumstances:
You can use a landline or mobile phone to join or host a Zoom meeting via audio conferencing. This is useful when:
Zoom has international dial-in numbers available for an extensive and growing list of countries throughout the world.  Participants from abroad can join UMN-hosted Zoom meetings or webinars via telephone if they canno
Once you have started or joined a Zoom meeting using your iPhone or iPad, follow the steps below to connect to the meeting audio.
You can use the Zoom mobile app to share your entire screen on an iPhone or iPad (as long as you are running
Intended Audience: Students or any user from the University of Minnesota joining Zoom meetings as a Participant or Attendee.
Video It is a good idea to test your video in Zoom before a meeting or webinar.  You can do that either manually or via a test meeting.
You can use Zoom on a computer through a web browser.  This lets you use some of Zoom's features without downloading plug-ins or software.  However, the web client has limited features.  
University of Minnesota students, staff, faculty, departmental, and sponsored accounts who are not in the
You can log in to Zoom from multiple places depending on your needs. For the most seamless meeting experience, always make sure you log into Zoom.
The University of Minnesota's Zoom web conferencing includes a feature that uses automatic transcription to turn the spoken word into text, in real-time.
Breakout Rooms allow you to seamlessly split your Zoom meeting into separate sessions for small group discussion, and then bring those sessions back together to resume the large group meeting.  As the meeting host, yo
The Meeting Settings page in your
As a host or co-host, you can mute all of the participants in the meeting. 
Your Profile page in your
If your camera is not showing up in the Zoom Settings, or if it is selected and not showing any video, these general tips can help.
Zoom offers optimized screen sharing of a full screen video clip.  This setting increases the frame rate of the screen share while playing the clip, so that the playback appears more smooth for remote participants.  T
Your Personal Meeting Room is the virtual meeting room that is permanently reserved for you.  You can start an instant meeting there at any time, or schedule it for future use.  
The polling feature for meetings and webinars allows you to ask multiple choice polling questions.
If you are hosting a webinar and want attendees to take a survey or be taken to a specific webpage afterward, you can create a survey from within the Zoom Portal, or you can share a survey you create on another platfo
If you're hosting a Zoom Video Webinar, these steps will help you create the best experience for your panelists, co-ho
As a tool, Zoom is HIPAA-compliant; but your responsible usage is the most important factor i
As a Zoom host, you can record your meeting or webinar.
If your camera is displaying upside down or sideways in Zoom on your Windows PC, you can rotate the camera in your settings until it is oriented correctly.
Becoming comfortable with Zoom's scheduling and invitation features will help you host successful meetings. This article covers:
You can allow someone else to schedule meetings and webinars on your behalf in Zoom.
Zoom offers step-by-step instructions for using Microsoft Powerpoint presentations with screen sharing in their
Follow the recommendations below to keep your Zoom Meetings secure and free from disruption.
You can set a playback range for a Zoom cloud recording that you share with other
You can use Zoom to share your desktop, window, or application with meeting attendees.
If you want other meeting attendees to see what you are working on, you can share your screen by clicking on the Share button in the Zoom toolbar.
Hosts using the Zoom Client for Meetings desktop application can allow mul
You can sign up for the following Zoom trainings through
You can start an instant meeting for screen share (no video) or an audio-only meeting from the
Synchronous class sessions, in which everyone logs in to a web conferencing system at a pre-scheduled time, are one way to create engagement and foster community in your fully online courses.
There are two options to test your video in Zoom prior to a meeting or webinar:
If you are hearing feedback or echoes in your meeting, that means there is a device in the meeting that is channeling your audio back.
Zoom is the University of Minnesota's preferred platform for virtual meetings, remote collaboration, and video conferencing. 
Remote Online Notary (RON) requires additional steps to be valid for MN statutes.
You can use the Call-Out feature in a Zoom meeting or Webinar to dial yourself or someone else to join the audio by telephone. Please Note:
The dual-monitor display feature allows you to see the video on one monitor and the screen share on another monitor simultaneously.  
If the video area on your Lenovo laptop looks like a grey box with a crossed-out camera icon, try these troubleshooting steps. 
The Waiting Room feature in Zoom allows the meeting host to control when a participant joins the meeting. Waiting rooms have additional customization features available in the Zoom Portal.
You can watch recordings o
Zoom offers an extensive coll
The Zoom for Google Calendar add-on allows you to schedule and join meetings directly from a Google Calendar event.


Article from Geekazine on some simple tips that help with making video conferencing of all types a more pleasant experience for everyone.
This video will provide a walk-through of the features of the 1:Button studio.
Good audio is an essential component for a good meeting.
You can import your Canvas calendar to Google Calendar. The calendar feed will contain events and assignments from all of your Canvas calendars.
Simple steps for embedding YouTube videos and playlists.
This LinkedIn Learning video covers foundational concepts of lighting, such as why light is important, what kinds of lights to look for, and where to put lights relative to a subject.
Find out how to get started in video production and editing.
Short article from 9to5 Google on how the use of Google Drive app within a hangout has been removed. Now users are to use the chat box for sharing any Google Driv items.
Learn about Google Hangouts on Google's help site.
The Google Hangouts Meet Help Center can help learn how to start and join meetings and use different settings in the meeting.
Webpage with link to download Google Video Calls (Hangouts) plugin required for most browsers to enter a video call.
Short video from Ronnie Bincer about how Google (Hangouts sometimes auto-mutes participants.
Web page from Google with information on how to start a Google Video Call (Hangout), including how to set up your computer and computer browser in advance.
Overview of how to use Google Video Calls with Google Calendar, including how to add a video call to a calendar event.
To optimize your zoom experience, follow these tips for your device and internet connection.
Video conferencing offers a variety benefits to the University community, including the following:
You may have heard about instances of unwanted, upsetting online classroom disruptions (Zoombombings).
This is one of the many interview style videos the Libraries have created in the Sound Stage Studio
This LinkedIn Learning course teaches you a project-based approach to the aesthetic and technical aspects of video editing.
This resource is available to all University faculty and staff. Frequently Asked Questions
Contact Technology Help if you need assistance.
Learn about UMN video conferencing options Request a consultation to learn about available video conferencing options by completing the
Quick article from Teacher Tech (Alice Keeler) on how to choose which video has the main focus in a Google Video Call (Hangout).
How-to article from Google on creating an unlisted Hangout on Air to record a Google Video Call.
This short, 4-minute video walks you through the process of making a recording using TechSmith Relay.
This LinkedIn Learning video shows how to use the calendar to invite others to the meeting, and activate video chat to see each other along with other features.
The Office of Information Technology’s (OIT) role for the University of Minnesota’s video conferencing environment will be to provide best practices to nurture this technology.
Operation guides are available in room as well as online for the following rooms with video conferencing capability:
We recommend all room installations at the University of Minnesota conform to our standard technology architectural model which provides encryption and standardized hardware and room controls.
Support for an in-progress video conferenceFor immediate help with a video conference that is in-progress, call (612) 626-4444 and select option 1.
A Video Event Online Support consultation session of up to an hour is available for no charge.
  To ensure the safety of our staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not offer onsite AV support for events during Fall Semester 2020. We will re-evaluate this decision for Spring Semester 2021.
  To ensure the safety of our staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not offer onsite AV support for events during Fall Semester 2020. We will re-evaluate this decision for Spring Semester 2021.
The interview sections of the this video were recorded in the Sound Stage Studio
This LinkedIn Learning video will show you how to set up mixers, wireless mics, and booms, and make sure your camera is correctly set up to capture audio. 
This LinkedIn Learning video teaches the fundamentals of portrait lighting, including standard three-point lighting setups, how to light for specific subjects, and how to deal with the challenges of location sho
Video conferencing classrooms and meeting rooms are both available and in development across the University system campuses.
Compare web conferencing tools available at the University; always start with your objectives before deciding on the tool.
Directions on how to add subtitles, closed captioning, and transcriptions to a YouTube video.
YouTube directions for adding subtitles, captioning, and transcriptions to YouTube videos.
Find how-to articles on using YouTube.
Learn answers to commonly asked questions on this YouTube site.
YouTube: Uploading, Sharing, Embedding video
When using Zoom you have the potential to discuss sensitive data, including personal health information (PHI).  Zoom is a secure tool, but you must use it appropriately to ensure HIPAA compliance.
As the host, you can control who meeting or webinar participants are allowed to chat with.
Use the controls below the flowchart to enlarge it. Click on the links in the blue ovals to learn more about each option.
CharterThe Online Meeting Tool Transition Governance Committee (OMTTGC) will provide system-wide and collegiate input during the transition from Webex to Zoom.
Recording Retention University of Minnesota Zoom recordings that have been saved to Zoom's cloud storage are managed according to the following timeline:
Before Your Meeting or Webinar Set up Registration. For public events, set up a Zoom registration page. People with a valid email will receive an email with the link to the event.

Self-Help Guides

Hold an online meeting using the Google Hangouts App.
Use this self-help guide to learn about and find resources to help with the video production process. 
This self-help guide will help anyone who presents at, schedules, or supports online meetings and webinars through Zoom.  To learn more about using Zoom for online office hours or smaller meetings, check out 
Zoom, an online video conferencing system, is now available to the UMN community!  Compare Zoom to Google Hangouts