Virtual guiding - what platform to use?

Tools for getting your guiding online

They have different benefits and features, as well as different levels of privacy and security, so think about which might work best for you and your unit.

Do check these platforms own websites, as many of them are changing their features and offers to help and support people during coronavirus.

We're not able to give any tech advice or help you with using specific digital tools. If you have technical questions it's best to contact customer services for the platform you're using.

For more support with your online meetings, check out our online training sessions. 

We recommend the NSPCC Net Aware website for detailed information on different online platforms.

Popular platforms

Zoom is a video conferencing service that allows you to virtually meet with others. You can run calls using voice- or video-only, or use both.

Our collaboration with Zoom

We’re really excited that Zoom are kindly giving Girlguiding members the opportunity to apply for one of 8,000 free enhanced Pro accounts to use while they are volunteering over the next six months. This is so that units can meet virtually with less restrictions on meeting times and more features to support your online meetings. The Pro accounts will run until 21 February 2021.

The main contact for each unit has been sent an email inviting them to apply. As we have nearly 26,000 units in Girlguiding, this offer will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications closed on Wednesday 26 August 2020.

Visit the Zoom website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 16 and over

Using a Zoom Pro account from Girlguiding:

We've personalised the way Zoom Pro is set up for Girlguiding accounts, to help your online meetings run smoothly and safely. Here's some of the features we've set up:

  • You can’t share files in a meeting.
  • We've switched off the ability to record and save meetings.
  • You can have lots of fun with annotations, but you won’t be able to save them.
  • If someone is removed from a meeting, they won’t be able to join back in.
  • We've turned on waiting rooms for everyone, so you have control over who joins your call.
  • Private chat is turned off between participants, so that volunteers can keep an eye on the conversation. Girls can speak privately with the meeting host, but we advise against that.
  • Video is on when you join a meeting. So you can identify who's joining and check  a parent is near. We know this can be tricky if there is poor bandwidth and wifi connections, you can use your individual settings to change this if you need to.
  • You can assign co-hosts but you'll have to start every meeting as the main account holder. Do not share your login details with anybody else.

Good for: Interactive sessions - see a lot of your young-members at the same time, screen share, video call, host up to 100 people on the free plan, control who can join your meeting, schedule recurring meetings, and in-meeting chat. There is a 40-minute time limit for group meetings on the free plan. One-on-one calls are always unlimited. See these Zoom resources for tips on how to set up your meetings.

Setting up meetings properly helps prevent the risk of uninvited guests taking over the meeting and potentially displaying offensive or inappropriate images and video.  To protect meetings from this, Zoom have added passwords to all online meetings, which along with the Waiting Room feature allows you to control who is joining the meeting. This is also handy for keeping your register.

Remember to share the meeting password privately so everyone can join in - but never post your meeting password on social media. See the advice from Zoom here for tips on how to properly secure your meetings.

On a free plan, meetings can’t be recorded. You can also add virtual backgrounds, and disable private chat.

Useful links:

Video conferencing service that you can join by phone. There are free and paid account options available. It used to be called Google Hangouts Meet.

Visit the Google Meet website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 13 and over for an individual account. Children under 13 can create an account through Family link.

Free basic package:

Good for: meeting length maximum up to 24 hours, hosting up to 100 people, screen sharing, video calling, interactive sessions, you have access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms, scheduling a recurring meeting, controlling who can join your meeting, no one can record calls. 

Bad for: meeting length maximum drops to 1 hour after 30 Sept, everyone needs a Google account to join a meeting, you can only see up to 16 people on screen at once during a call, there's no virtual backgrounds or way to blur backgrounds.

G Suite Essentials

Google are currently offering an account upgrade to G Suite for free until 30 September.

Good for: hosting up to 150 people, screen sharing, video calling, interactive sessions , you have access to Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms, you don’t need a Google account to join a meeting, scheduling a recurring meeting, controlling who can join your meeting.

Bad for: free until 30 Sept 2020 then $10 per active user/per month, you can only see up to 16 people on screen at once during a call.

Useful links:

Meet technical support
Privacy and security information
Guide to getting started on Meet
Net Aware guide to Google Hangouts/Meet

 

 

A chat-based workspace allowing groups to chat through text and video. Groups can also share and collaborate on files.

Visit the Teams website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 13 and over

Good for: Interactive sessions, live-stream, screensharing, in-meeting chat and video chat, schedulling meetings, controlling who can join your Team - you can choose private or invite-only, channels allow you to break out conversations by topics, meetings are no recorded and you can add virtual backgrounds.

Bad for: Everyone will need to download the programme, and you might need to pay for a licence to use it.

Useful links:

Technical support

Video conferencing app that can be used on mobile devices and computers.

Visit the Skype website

Read their terms and conditions

Age limit: 13 and over.

Good for: Up to 50 people can chat together on an audio call, screensharing, in-meeting chat, adding virtual backgrounds.

Bad for: Sharing documents and files, only Skype to Skype call are free, you need to pay for Skype to mobile/landline calls.

Useful links:

Technical support
Privacy and security information 
Guide to getting started
Net Aware guide to Skype

WhatsApp is a secure messaging and free calling app, that can be used on mobile devices and computers.

Visit the WhatsApp website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 16 and above

Good for: texting, sharing photos and videos, closed group messaging, can be used for solo guiding or communicating with a group all in one go.

Bad for: group calls; it's limited to four people on a call, document sharing

Useful links:

Technical support
Privacy and security information 
Guide to getting started
Net Aware guide to WhatsApp

We all know Facebook for the Groups, Events and Pages, but you can also use it to broadcast live video.

You can do this from your desktop or mobile phone, people can comment on your videos. It works well to braodcast a conversation, Q&A or virutal event. It's not as good for virtual meetings, as you can't see the other people involved or talk with them - they can leave comments on your video.

Remember that anyone can join Facebook Lives run from a page, they are open to the public. If you want to control who joins your Live then you should run it from a private group.

Visit the Facebook website

Read their terms and conditions

Age limit: 13 and over

Good for: Live-streaming video for events, talks and Q&As.

Bad for: Running unit meetings as interaction is limited and you won't be able to see the young members, collaboration, document sharing, privacy – only streaming on a Private group allows you to control who is viewing.

Useful links:

Technical  support 
Privacy and security information
Guide to getting started
Net Aware guide to Facebook

Stream video live from your webcam or desktop. YouTube Live lets you host webinars, broadcast vlogs, and more in real time. Interact with viewers through chat and comments.

Visit the YouTube website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 13 and over

Good for: Sharing ready-made videos and content made by you or your unit, sharing livestream events.

Bad for: Interaction - viewers can only type chat and comments and you can't see their faces, to join in everyone needs an active Google account, to livestream via mobile you need 1,000 subscribers, can take up to 24 hours to set up your first live stream.

Useful links

Technical support
Privacy and security information 
Guide to getting started
Net Aware guide to YouTube

A collection of apps that allow for you to store, share and work together on files that are stored in the cloud.

Visit the Google Drive website

Read their terms and conditions

Age limit: 13 and over for an individual account. Children under 13 can create an account through Family link.

Good for: collaboration, sharing documents and images with other volunteers.

Bad for: Interactivity, there's no video calling or screensharing and you can only interact by leaving comments on the files.

Useful links 

Technical support
Privacy and security information
Guide to getting started

Dropbox is a file storing platforms that let's you copy your files to the cloud. Both free and paid accounts are available.

Read their terms and conditions

Visit the  Dropbox website  

Age limit: 13 and over.

Good for: Sharing documents and images with other leaders – you can get 2GB of storage for free, asynchronous collaboration

Bad for: Synchronous collaboration and interaction – you’d need to use another tool to add screen sharing or video interaction, to get the most out of the service you need to download the app.

Useful links

Technical support
Privacy and security information 
Guide to getting started

GDPR and data protection

Make sure you protect personal data by following these steps

  • Make sure you have the correct, up to date permissions and consent before posting on social media or sharing video (live or prerecorded)
  • Virtual meetings and live broadcasts should not be saved and stored at anytime. 
  • Don't mention members’ full names or include other personal information that could reveal their identities without their permission.
  • Be aware that members’ full names will be visible on Facebook if you tag them, so think carefully about the content you are posting.
  • Make sure girls are aware that they should not share photos or videos of their friends online without permission from parents/carers.
  • Consider disabling the ability to comment on videos, where possible, as it allows users to post negative comments, personal information about someone else or abuse. If this occurs it is to be reported as a breach or safeguarding concern.
  • If a breach occurs where personal data is shared without prior knowledge of the person or a group of people, please report this to [email protected]  as soon as possible.
  • Do not take pictures or still images of virtual meetings or live broadcasts, or share them publicly without everyone in the video knowing about it and consenting.