What's the best platform for an online multi-party chat?

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Relztrah

Puritan Board Freshman
Our worship service will be broadcast over YouTube, but Sunday School is interactive and it would be nice to have some kind of platform where online attendants could ask questions, interact with the teacher and other attendants, and hear the comments of others.

Years ago we held a meeting of a missions trip team with several of us absent using Google Hangouts, and it worked OK. I know that Facetime has this feature, but it requires an Apple device and most people use Androids and PCs. What about Skype? I've used Skype to hold a video call to people overseas, but never for a group video conference. WhatsApp allows only four people at a time on a group chat, and if we attempt this for Sunday School I'm thinking we might have ten.

Whatever platform is most user-friendly and requires the least amount of computer know-how is best. Any ideas?
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe look into Zoom. I've never used it, but I hear its quite popular right now. Some of our homeschooling get-togethers are looking to shift to it. I imagine it would be a good tool for Sunday School classes.
 

Nate

Puritan Board Junior
I am an educator and use Zoom for both teaching classes and faculty meetings. Zoom allows video, audio, or text communication in a single meeting. Each user can decide which mode of communication they want to use or the meeting administrator can select one for everyone. It is definitely amenable to an interactive classroom, and you can even break out meeting participants into subgroups. The basic platform is free.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
Maybe look into Zoom. I've never used it, but I hear its quite popular right now. Some of our homeschooling get-togethers are looking to shift to it. I imagine it would be a good tool for Sunday School classes.
I've been testing a number of platforms since my college goes completely to remote learning in Monday. Zoom is by far the best.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Zoom always works well. Everything else is iffy. If you want to talk for more than 40 minutes at a time, the church will need to buy a subscription at $15-20/month. So it costs something, but is worth it.
 
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KSon

Puritan Board Junior
I've been testing a number of platforms since my college goes completely to remote learning in Monday. Zoom is by far the best.
I'm trying to keep it free, if possible, and Zoom limits to 40 minutes in their free package. Have you interacted at all with Webex (Cisco)?
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
I'm trying to keep it free, if possible, and Zoom limits to 40 minutes in their free package. Have you interacted at all with Webex (Cisco)?
No, I haven't. Let me know your experience with that. I get Zoom for free through my college.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I'm trying to keep it free, if possible, and Zoom limits to 40 minutes in their free package. Have you interacted at all with Webex (Cisco)?
You can regenerate the Zoom chat when the 40 minutes is up. The link stays the same, so people can just click on the same link. From experience, I can say that it's not as bad as it sounds. The only true difficulty is for people who are calling in via phone, but Zoom is currently discouraging that unless it is absolutely necessary. (Also, Zoom has no time limit for one-to-one calls; the time limit is only for group calls.)

You could also see if there's anyone you know who has a paid account (I got one via my school due to the virus). For a paid account, the host can create a zoom chat that anyone can join without the host being there ("join before host" option).
 
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KSon

Puritan Board Junior
Thank you, brothers. WebEx is used by one of our Elder Apprentices who works for Merck. I hadn’t heard of it until he brought it up in yesterday’s planning meeting. He said he’s used it many times with no complaints. I use Zoom for some classes at Southern Seminary, and I like it and am used to it. I know there will be smartphone users, so the refresh thing kind of scares me.
 

Afterthought

Puritan Board Senior
I use Zoom for some classes at Southern Seminary, and I like it and am used to it. I know there will be smartphone users, so the refresh thing kind of scares me.
To clarify, smartphone users who are using the app should be fine. It is those who are calling in by phone who will have difficulty with the regenerating of the chat.
 

EcclesiaDiscens.

Puritan Board Freshman
We have a program called Jitsi Meet that creates an instance that a bunch of people can be on until the room is closed by the host. It’s free to use as far as I know.
 
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