Online Solutions for Teaching

Hi all :wave:t4:! I wanted to ask if you are still teaching online and, if so, what online solution are you using and why. I’ve tried Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and GoToTraining. Anyone using Blackboard Collaborate or a different one?

Zoom, but I hope soon we will be able to do it onsite soon…

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You should give Discord a try.


  • Works on desktop, browser and mobile. So no need to install.
  • Single account to access any discord server.
  • Text, voice, announcement and stage channels.
  • Community-oriented, tools for engagement.
  • Highly advanced role and permissions system for channels.
  • Highly customizable with bots and API.
  • Aesthetically appealing. Fresh app.
  • Pluggable to other streaming apps like Youtube or Twitch.
  • Used by some plugin developers (Wisp, Peacock), and I am sure there will be more in the furure(*).
  • Used as a social network, not just for a course. Space for private content and open content.


  • High-res streaming in for nitro version ($100/year).
  • People out of date think it’s for children.

(*) Discord is a great tool for software developers for many reasons, if McNeel comes it would help us a lot to grow and would bring back the social atmosphere of the old GH forum. It is your own server that brings the community together in a common interest, something McNeel definitely needs. Write me a DM if you speak Spanish I can show you my server and explain in detail why you should use it from McNeel Barcelona, estaría encantado de ayudaros con esto.

Thanks @Petras_Vestartas! We hope that too and I’m not sure if this is for the same reason. Online we get less interaction but, more people attending our special trainings. No need to travel to Barcelona. Why do you prefer it onsite?

Thanks @Dani_Abalde. I use Discord with my Team because we are all working from home but, I never thought about using it for teaching. This is interesting I’ll give it a look and send you a message.

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For interaction, probably there are two things:
a) Online courses where you need a special attention to students
b) Online course with already motivated crowd.

For the first I prefer personal training.

I’m interested too, and I want to add a question.

On my last Rhino+Grasshopper course I’ve used Google Meet.
Overall it was not bad, but it lacked the option to remote control the PCs of the students.

Too many times, when someone got something wrong or did not understand, it end up like:
“go on top bar, 3rd buttom from left, opend that tab and select… no! not that, the top bar…”
"click that edge, not that one, the other, and on its extremity… "
etc etc
… a mess.

To properly teach and to not waste time, on my next course I will force/require the use of a platform that let me see AND CONTROL students machine.
Really too much wasted time otherwise. (this may depends on the age/predisposition of students…)

They told me Microsoft Teams allows that, but I’ve never tried it.

Do other platforms permit remote control of participants?

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There is also an option on Zoom @maje90 .
I use this option after fail of explanation like you said:
"click that edge, not that one, the other, and on its extremity… "
and then comes
"Ok, can you give control of your screen..."

What I found strange that computer science labs do not do such teaching, rather they have assignment and weekly consultations, whereas for programming languages students must learn on their own. I guess in architecture it is different…


I’ve never considered to use Zoom for anything professional. (or even for normal chat with friends…)
Only starting that program gives me chills down the spine.
(I consider it one of the worst programmed app I’ve ever used)

If there are other solutions, i’ll consider them.

But thanks for letting me know. Noted.

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I’m using Teams, but don’t like it very much. It takes a lot of energy from the laptop which starts blowing hot air. But that’s what I need to use at the academy. We also use Mural, this is great if you want students to see each others work and get a good overview of all students work without too much effort. It’s free for schools, where you can have murals with up to 100 student/guest accounts. Their support is pretty helpful as well.

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Does Discord have ways for payment automation? Some important things Zoom (Webinar Version) does currently that I dunno if Discord does.

  1. Automated payment systems and registration (for instance signing up and joining a class with paypal and getting access to the class that way).

  2. Using unique tokens per registration for a class (so that one person doesn’t pay and share their credentials with a bunch of other people join for free, the token only works for one use at a time).

  3. Huge file size auto video recording and cloud storage in HQ

  4. Live and post processed CC and transcription audio to text.

  5. No install required from users

Don’t take this as a Zoom is better post, just stating what is important for my realm of online education (paid webinars).

Not natively but its API allows to integrate it to a payment server or any other service via webhooks. Probably with Zapier it can be done. For example, when someone becomes a Peacock Patreon, they are automatically assigned a role (depending on the chosen tier) to their Discord account on the Peacock server, and with this they can access private channels with exclusive content as well as different types of permissions (read message history, be able to write in certain channels, send files, be able to talk in voice channels or see video…). I will stream for my Patreons when I release the next version, but this integration is developed by Patreon. Ko-fi also allows integration with Zapier since a few weeks but with my free account I can only use it to notify in a channel when someone invites me to a coffee. I think customizing this like Patreon did requires a custom bot and therefore hosting it in the cloud (or running it locally and never turning off the computer xd).

Discord uses user accounts and linking to other services relies on this to be personal and non-transferable. There are some bots that allow you to limit the number of people joining a channel. Also, instead of using roles, you can send an invitation url to access a channel and set a limit on how many people can join and for how long with that url.

No but doable with any free streaming software like OBS. And HD streaming on Discord is with the (paid) nitro version.


Discord can run on browser so no need to install in that case.

Another con of Discord is that it has a limited number of viewers in the free version (it was raised to 50 because of the pandemic).

Well, depending on what you want to do. If what you want to do is to do is just videocourses, Zoom or TeamViewer are applications designed for that. Discord is not, but you might be interested if you want to give your students a space for communication, so that they can see each other’s doubts, share their results, and in general offer a more connected experience for everyone. Or just to stop using the nasty email to help your students. These apps offer different things, Discord is like Teams or Slack but without being boring, besides it doesn’t have a closed door, you only close some rooms, which can help you to get more students for the future if you get potential students to enter in your server and get interested until they want to pay for the next course.

I just found another interesting feature of Discord which is multiple screen sharing / multistream, which seems quite useful to see your students’ work (I have no idea if other apps allow this, I haven’t been teaching for 3 years so I am not up to date).


I use TeamViewer in the meeting mode. Pros:

  • each participant can use mouse pointer (I prefer it to remote control) - asking questions or explaining where to click on canvas/toolbar is easier than on onsite courses
  • 4K resolution screen sharing
  • session recording to a local file
  • straightforward meeting management and invitations (no need for integration with Google or Outlook calendar)
  • the meeting mode in included in the general license that can be used for technical support (remote control mode)
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I use zoom - it is defined by the university, so i had no choice.

I do a lot of video tutorials, for many lectures i give them an introduction live, then the students have to watch a small 15 min tutorial and repeat it on their own. I am online / available if there a questions, 45min / 60min later we discuss general questions.

to get more feedback of the students i use google slides - they have to upload screenshots as soon as they finished an exercise.

i do not ask “the class” - i have a printed list of students next to me, and i direct all questions to a name - “Christoph, can you explain why we need at least 4 Control Points here.” … if the answer is wrong “Natalie, do you agree”… with this approach i get them quite attentive.

to guide them through workflows i use zoom annotation tools. (i do not get control of their computer) this works quite well if the connection is stable. … you can “draw” / scribble on the shared screen. after a few sessions this gets quite fluent.

to show them, how the zoom interface looks like on my screen - i use a (analog) MIRROR … this glas plate with silver side ;-D

i use 2 screens to teach - would not be able with one.
(zoom / video and story-board on one screen, rhino on the other)

some students have a really huge monitor (49’’ ?) if they share their screen it is nearly impossible to see what their interface or command options are ;-(

and yes, teaching in a real classroom you get more feedback, you get the spirit, there is time for a coffee … actually i am listening to the mouse clicks and keyboard noise in classroom… there is much more unconscious / hidden “signals” between students and teachers.

but i think it is possible to develop mixed formats, where most materials is available online, but some support is available in the classroom.
I think it is not very attractive to mix a class - e.g. have 10 students in the classroom, and 7 via zoom … the on site students will get much more attention.

@carla.sologuren if you want to chat or talk more about my experience feel free to contact me.


Thanks for sharing @Tom_. You have it quite organized and structured! We do “Orientation Sessions” to get to know the participants a little bit better and also to give them a space to know each other. We explain how the platform works, and answer any questions regarding the sessions. This helps us get a little more feedback and avoid technical problems that usually interrupt the first class.


I’ve tried Zoom. Recently I’ve also used Google Meets which is great as it’s included if you have a Google Workspace. The only gripe is that it doesn’t have an annotation tool…


Thanks @sach. I agree the annotation tool is important.

Also, I’ve used Zoom in tandem with Miro for students to share and for us to discuss projects.

The other thing with Google Meets, is that you don’t seem to be able to maximize the view of another person’s screen if they are sharing…unless I missed how to do this!