Microsoft Teams announced that it will begin testing 49-person video calls this month, and that a general roll-out for the feature will come in the fall. According to Microsoft, 49-person video calls should help virtual classrooms stay cohesive, as every student can raise their hand or speak to the class.
Of course, the decision to support up to 49 video feeds isn’t arbitrary. Microsoft Teams wants to catch up with Zoom, which also supports a maximum of 49 video participants. Still, the maximum number of people that can tune-in to a Teams meeting is 250, while up to 500 people can watch a meeting under Zoom’s paid plan.
Along with its expanded video chat support, Teams for Education is adding a “breakout room” feature that allows students to collaborate in small, private groups during large class meetings. Microsoft says that teachers will receive attendance logs and class insights after meetings, and students will gain a much needed “raise hand” feature.
Teams is also adding some restrictions to Education calls, including a “lobby” where students can be verified before being admitted to class. Behind the scenes, teachers will have the option to prevent students from starting meetings on their own, or prevent students from presenting at a meeting.
Microsoft is racing to catch up with Zoom before kids go back to school. Some Teams users may see the option for 49-person video chats this month, but general roll-out for the feature won’t be complete until this fall.