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 session. Full details of the webinars and how to book your place can be found on GO.

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.

Visit the Zoom website

Read their terms and conditions.

Age limit: 16 and over

Good for: Interactive sessions - you can see lots of your young-members at the same time, screen sharing, video calling, hosting up to 100 people on the free plan, controlling who can join your meeting, scheduling a recurring meeting, and in-meeting chat.

Bad for: Longer chats – there's a 40-minute limit for group calls on free accounts – but you can talk one-to-one with other volunteers for as long as you like. You need to download the app for the best experience and to be able to use all the features.

Zoom meetings can be 'zoombombed' by uninvited guests, who take over the meeting and display 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 the host to control who is joining the meeting. This is also handy for keeping your register. Remember to share the meeting password so everyone can join in.

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

Useful links:

Zoom technical support
Privacy and security information
Guide to getting started on Zoom 
Net Aware guide to Zoom

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