Step 10: Communication Tools


On this page, you will identify which tools are used when communicating with a professor including Zoom, Voicethread and Microsoft Teams

Key Points on this Page

Communication Tools

Communicating with your Instructor and Class can happen using a multitude of tools including Face-to-Face interactions, Telephone interactions, Collaborate (which is the built in tool in Blackboard), Voicethread (an asynchronous tool), Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

The table below has a list of common features or tasks that you might accomplish. Note that the first column represents both Face-To-Face and Telephone communications and while limited in scope, is used to show you the broad capabilities of the other tools featured. 

The order of the list does not represent the allegiance that the IDEA Team has to each tool, rather the popularity on campus from least used to most used. 

Note: Webex is no longer a supported tool on campus. 


Zoom is the #1 videoconferencing tool used for classes and meetings at SSW. Zoom is available at by logging in with the SSO login and your UMID. Support is offered through or 410-706-HELP. Zoom is offered as a "Licensed" account to all SSW faculty, staff, and students, with equal access to settings, meetings and recordings. See more about Zoom


Voicethread is an asynchronous tool for presentations, communicating, and discussion. Please start by reading the student voicethread page  and then view the presentation using this link, in which you can also practice adding a brief comment. You will need to be logged into with your UMID first, in order to add a comment.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams (formally Skype for Business) is a group collaboration tool that provides for team communication, collaboration, persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration using Office 365. This tool is perfect for student group communication. (Note that few if any classes at SSW are officially using this tool, but we mention it because you do have access and can use it to communicate with fellow students.) 

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a tool for synchronous communication that may include audio, video, screen sharing, polls, text chat, breakout rooms, whiteboards, slides, and images. Very few instructors at SSW use Collaborate, as most have changed to using Zoom instead.

Page Summary

On the Communication Tools page, you learned about various platforms used for interacting with professors and classmates, including Zoom, Voicethread, Microsoft Teams, and Blackboard Collaborate. Zoom emerged as the primary videoconferencing tool, providing seamless class and meeting experiences. Voicethread, an asynchronous platform, facilitated presentations and discussions, enhancing collaboration beyond real-time interactions. Microsoft Teams, offering group collaboration features, stood out for its utility in student group communication, despite its limited use in official SSW classes. Additionally, Blackboard Collaborate, though less commonly used, provided synchronous communication with a range of features like audio, video, and text chat. You also gained insights into accessing and utilizing these tools effectively, ensuring smooth communication throughout your academic journey.