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Privacy considerations for online teaching

Collaborate and Teams: Camosun's web-conferencing tools

Camosun supports two web (video) conferencing tools–Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and Teams.  These tools have undergone a privacy impact assessments. These tools are supported, so if you have any technical issues college staff are able to assist you. 

Collaborate is the best choice for use within your course, as it is integrated with D2L.  Students access Collaborate from your D2L course site.  The tool includes a number of features that  support teaching such as break-out groups, polls, and instructor level controls. 

Teams is used extensively at the college for collaboration and connection.   All employees have access to Teams, and you are able to invite anyone , including students to a Teams web-meeting you have set up by sharing the meeting link. 


Best practices

When you are using  a web-conferencing tool, consider the best practices below for protecting your own privacy and the privacy of those around you:

  • Establish privacy guidelines with respect to web-conferencing with your classes at the beginning of the term.
  • Find a private space with a neutral background that does not include any identifying or sensitive information about yourself or other individuals
  • Utilize features to blur your background or replace your actual background with a static image 
  • Let students know how they can mute their audio and turn off cameras.  Be specific about when you expect cameras to be turned on. 
  • Mute your device and/or switch off your camera if there is no added value 
  • Make sure others in your surroundings do not appear on-screen and cannot be heard 
  • Avoid recording unless it is necessary for assessment

Camera on or off ?

As an instructor you should always be on camera, however be thoughtful how you ask students to be on camera.  Privacy is an important consideration, and use of video (camera) may present bandwidth and other technical issues to students. 

Consider the following best practices in use of video in Collaborate or Teams sessions:

  • At start of class ask for cameras on for a check in, and then suggest cameras off 
  • Explain your expectations around the use of cameras.  Be aware that some students may not have the best internet connection or a web-camera 
  • At times, you may want all cameras off -- e.g during a lecture or when there is screen sharing--be specific
  • Students should always have the option of turning off their camera or using a virtual background to hide their personal environment

Making use of chat

Collaborate and Teams provide a chat function within the web-meeting environment.  Chat can be a very effective tool to enhance engagement and to share additional content such as links.  Chat , however can also be distracting and  it's easy to inadvertently share personal information or content not relevant or appropriate to the class. 

Best practices: 

  • Let students know how chat can be used in your course
  • Remind them to keep comments on topic, and to avoid posting any personal information 
  • Alert them that private chats (between two students) can be viewed by the instructor 
  • Manage your Collaborate chat settings.  For example you can disable the private chat between students in a class, or disable chat during a lecture or anonymize the chat function when recording.
  • If the session is recorded, remember the chat transcript will be maintained. 

Comparison: Collaborate, Teams, Teams Live

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is fully integrated with D2L, making it the best choice for instructors to schedule and host synchronous sessions with students.   Collaborate is one of the few web-conferencing tool developed specifically for an education setting  

Teams is fully integrated with Office 365.  In addition to web-conferencing is provides a suite for tools making it a hub for collaboration and communication.   

Teams Live is a broadcast tool. This tool is useful for large events, with a single speaker or moderator with panel. The audience can engage via text chat, but the audio and video is one-way broadcast.  

Zoom is not supported by the college.  No support can be provided and use is not compliant with Camosun’s Privacy policy and standards.  

Feature Comparisons: Collaborate, Teams, Teams Live

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra


Teams Live

Ideal for

Course activity

Meetings and small group activities such as tutoring or interviewing

Broadcasting to large audiences (+ 1000) for events such as townhalls or keynote addresses.

How to Access

An instructor can choose to use Collaborate within a D2L course.

 Limited access is provided outside of D2L. Requests should be sent to:

Teams is available to all Camosun employees.

Employees can invite a student or instructor to a Teams meeting.

Access is self-managed.

Setup and support on request to ITS

Integrated into D2L


Under consideration



Moderator, presenter, participant. Roles transfer from role in D2L course,     

Moderator can determine what options participants can have.

Presenters and Attendees; attendees have equal functionality (except guests, who cannot start/stop recordings)

Organizer, Producer (designed to help queue content/manage session), Presenter, Attendee

Attendance Log

Yes; via sessions reports


Yes; via Attendee engagement report

Session size limits?



Designed for large audiences; support over 10,000 attendees

Number of video feeds displayed



49 in Large Gallery View 


Interaction Features:

Hand raise ; faster/slower, happy/sad, chat emoticons

Hand raise, Chat , Emojis, Stickers, Message Urgency (Standard, Important, Urgent)

Chat; Emoticon for Thumbs Up

Moderator can share:

Audio, Video, Content, Desktop or Applications, Polls, built-in whiteboard

Audio, Video, Content, Desktop, Applications, built-in whiteboard

Audio, Video, Content, Applications, whiteboard (via Teams Chat, this chat screen can then be  shared)

Students can share:

Can be enabled to share audio, video, built-in whiteboard; to share screen, have to be promoted to Presenter role

Audio, Video, Content, Desktop, Applications, built-in whiteboard

Attendees cannot share content

Guest access?




Integrated polling 




Small group breakouts?


No; planned for upgrades fall 2020


Recording tool?

Yes; automatically posts to recordings in D2L course

Yes; recording is logged as part of meeting chat; uploaded automatically to Microsoft Stream ; may not be available to guests (non Camosun)

Yes; file can be downloaded via the Recording link on the calendar invite.

Session time limit?

No time limit; can have permanently open course rooms

8 hours

4 hours

Mobile app?

Yes; limited functionality; not recommended for moderators


Yes,  for attendees . No mobile option for moderators


Live-captioning role; no  automatic captioning 

User can choose  automatic captioning

User can choose  automatic captioning

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