Bring Virtual Speakers to Class

Bring Virtual Speakers to Class

One of the Jamestown Community College faculty wanted to be able to have guest speakers brought into her class as a Webinar. She was also interested in recording the Webinar. She asked for options. I will list what we have available, but if you have options, please share them in the comments.

Fortunately, we have a number of options available to us. Each has their pluses and minuses. You must decide the nature of the presentation. If it primarily a lecture, I would recommend bringing in only the guest speaker and have questions submitted through the chat. If there is supposed to be a lot of discussion, I would find a platform where many people can participate through audio at a minimum.

If you wish to share a video on YouTube either public or unlisted, you will have to keep in mind the 15 minute YouTube barrier. With Google+ Hangouts, you can exceed the barrier; otherwise, you will have to edit your videos to meet this time restriction.

Google+ Hangouts on Air

Google+ Hangouts on Air is a personal favorite. I used it extensively with Cooperative Extension. In the scenario outlined above, I would bring the instructor and guest speaker into the session, and have everyone (unlimited) else submit questions through the chat. Google+ HOA can support 10 video users on air at the same time but this can become overwhelming. Google+ HOA will automatically record to YouTube with a public or unlisted setting. Here are instructions for recording an unlisted setting:

Google+ HOA will allow participants to share their screen. It can be extended with whiteboard add-on applications such as Conceptboard or Cacoo. External audience participants can provide comments and questions using the chat. You can easily share other Google documents.


JCC has a number of GoToMeeting accounts that can be used specifically for this purpose. Cori will be happy to coordinate an account. Our licenses will support up to 25 participants, thus GoToMeeting will support most of JCC classes in terms of the number of participants. It has the capability for screen sharing, native drawing tools, text chat, and recording. You can record with GoToMeeting or use a third party recording tool. Important to ensure recording features are set to record in a format you will be able to use later.

To upload to YouTube, the video will have to be the right format and size.


While JCC does not yet support Zoom, it is easy to use and free for up to 25 participants. With the free version, you are restricted to 40 minutes. It also has screen sharing, whiteboarding, local recording in MP4 format, and chatting.  I have not personally used Zoom, but it looks interesting enough to try.

To upload to YouTube, the video will have to be the right format and size.


With a paid Skype account, you can host 25-person audio-only conferences, and 10-person video calls, although Skype recommends no more than 5 users on the video call. With Skype, you can share screens and use chat; however, there is no whiteboard or drawing capability.

Skype does not have native recording, yet. You will have to use a third-party tool to capture the session. Again, to upload to YouTube, the video will have to be the right format and size.

To capture a Webinar, there are fortunately a number of options. Some are free, some of them we support, but we are willing to experiment using any of them to find the right fit for our JCC faculty. What tools are others using to bring outside speakers into your classroom digitally?

Additional Reading

Photo: Photo by Oliur Rahman on Unsplash

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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