In November 2020 Microsoft announced that Teams was being enjoyed by 115 million active users. A few months prior to that, Google revealed that Meet (formerly known as Hangouts Meet) was used by 100 million per day. It’s not difficult to work out why these two products are proving so popular, particularly during this current pandemic, as more and more people need to connect virtually, whether for leisure purposes, for work or, crucially, for education.
When you’re looking for a solution to the ‘problem’ of handling online teaching, there’s some great tech and some brilliant products on the market. You will have heard of some of those products and facilities – but both Google Meet and Microsoft Teams will be amongst the most familiar, and are handy to know about in particular. They’re both similar in that they provide real-time interactive capability as part of a pretty comprehensive productivity platform.
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Microsoft Teams is extremely user-friendly and focuses around quick and easy communication, with simple features which make audio and video conversations much easier too. Meet focuses heavily on video conversations, and meetings can be set up and launched in seconds. In addition, you can use Google calendar links, links sent through email and even telephone numbers to begin conversations and meetings.
Microsoft Teams is available as part of the Microsoft 365 package, and Google Meet is a standard part of the G-Suite. So which is the better of the two?
Well, ‘better’ is bit of a misleading term to use when you are dealing with two high quality communication and productivity packages. Both are brilliant for use in the teaching environment. Both are secure, relatively easy to use and in terms of functionality they have their individual strengths. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that, depending on which you might be thinking about, either could be considered as the go-to all-in-one environment for communication and collaboration in education.
The good thing about Microsoft Teams and Google Meet, is that they’re both part of wider packages of highly functional and relatively easy-to-use software. If you’re already using tools from Google or Microsoft, it will be simple to make your decision between Teams or Meet, as you will already have that access.
Let’s go back to school, and take an overview of each, and look at some of the best features of them both.
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Both Google and Microsoft Teams have the facility to work ‘in partnership’ with other ‘integrations’ and add-ons. Microsoft Teams offers a wide selection of ways to expand the experience, with various add-on options available in the Microsoft store. Of course, the most compelling integrations that Microsoft Teams has to offer are within Microsoft Office 365.
Microsoft Teams is a hub which can bring conversations, assignments, teaching materials and apps together. Within Teams, educators can converse with students, share teaching materials such as pictures, documents and videos, send links to websites for research and further reading, create a OneNote Class Notebook, and distribute and mark assignments and other work. Built-in OneNote Class Notebooks and assignment management mean that teachers can organise interactive lessons and offer effective feedback to their pupils and students.
Administrators and staff can stay ‘in the loop’ and up to date, by collaborating using Staff Teams for admin, announcements and conversations. Teachers can share material with other educators using Professional Learning Communities. Class Teams can be used to create class spaces, provide virtual meeting platforms, facilitate learning with assignments and feedback, and live calls with students.
Google takes a similar approach to Microsoft Teams in that it integrates with Google’s own tools first. But there are ways that you can expand the Google Meet reach which make it easier to build an environment for communication and collaboration.
You have access to Google Meet only if your school uses G Suite for Education. Schools and educational establishments which use G Suite for Education can access Google Meet’s advanced video conferencing. This means teachers can reach over 200 participants during a call, live streaming, or meeting. G Suite for Education has Meet turned on as a default. In terms of great features, for classes in particular the students can easily participate with hand raising, and there is a digital whiteboard capability too. You can also record and play back the call or meeting later to check on things.
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Which is Right for You?
Choosing the ideal collaboration platform for your teaching isn’t always easy – but the chances are that your school, college or other educational establishment will already be using a particular platform. If that is the case then you will already know some of the benefits of what you are using. But there are often ‘tips and tricks’ to make your teaching go a little smoother using either Microsoft Teams or Google Meet.
Alternatively, if you’re not yet ‘tied in’ to a particular platform and are wondering which is the most appropriate one to choose, there is a quite simple idea to consider as a general guide. Microsoft Teams is great if you’re looking for something that’s particularly messaging-focused. There is the option to expand into video and audio. Google Meet is more oriented towards video meetings, with the option to access other facilities and capabilities.
Either way, though your teaching online will never quite replicate the interactions in a physical classroom, with either Microsoft Teams or Google Meet the experience will be enhanced significantly for yourself and, most importantly, for your students.