Last reviewed on 28 July 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 40055

If you're thinking about switching your digital learning platform, compare Google and Microsoft's key features so you can make an informed decision about which to go for. Remind yourself what your current platform can do, and see if you could use it better when pupils are self-isolating or learning from home.

No matter which platform you choose, you won't have to compromise on your pupils' education or sense of community. You're able to upload video lessons, set work and provide feedback so pupils can continue learning while they're learning remotely.

Here's a breakdown of how Google and Microsoft each help you to teach remotely, and what the key differences are between them.

A note on versions and pricing

Google's platform has been renamed 'Google Workspace for Education' (previously it was 'G-Suite for Education').

Both Google's and Microsoft's platforms have different versions to choose from, and have additional features in paid-for packages.

We refer to the free versions (Google's 'Education Fundamentals' and Microsoft's 'Office 365 A1') in the table below, unless marked with a *£.

Compare the different versions of Google and Microsoft packages. 

Comparison: Google Workspace for Education and Office 365 Education

I want to...

Google's solution Microsoft's solution
Assign and receive work

Google Classroom
A central hub for learning.

Set tasks, and attach resources like worksheets or YouTube videos. Set tasks for the whole class or for groups of pupils (to differentiate learning).

Staff and pupils can log in on a computer, tablet or mobile device (using the Google Classroom app).

Pupils complete tasks in Google Classroom using tools like Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms.

Help pupils keep track of their work with to-do pages and due-dates that automatically appear in their calendars when work is assigned.

Staff can check for plagiarism in pupils' work using originality reports (*£ unlimited use of this feature only with paid-for versions). 

Here's what Google Classroom looks like in action.

Microsoft Teams
A central hub for learning.

Set tasks, and attach resources like worksheets or YouTube videos. Set tasks for the whole class or for groups of pupils (to differentiate learning).

Staff and pupils can log in on a computer, tablet or mobile device (using the Microsoft Teams app).

Pupils complete tasks in Office 365 using Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Class Notebook and so on.

Take a look at the Teams interactive classroom demo.

Communicate with staff

Google Meet
Video-call up to 100 staff members at once in your web browser or on the Google Meet app. Your device will need at least a microphone to do this (and a camera if you want to show video).

Give presentations remotely by sharing your screen.

Use active-participation tools such as virtual hand raising, digital whiteboard and in-meeting reactions.

*£ Video call up to 500 participants, use breakout rooms and save recordings to your Google Drive.

*£ Coming soon: use new features like automatic video-call transcripts saved to Google Docs, and polls during livestream events.

Google Chat
Send private messages to staff members in your web browser or on the mobile app. You can also make group conversations with multiple staff members.

Google Classroom
Create a class and invite your teachers to it to make a virtual staff room. Send them updates using the 'Stream' (it looks a bit like a social media timeline/feed). 

Teams Meetings
Set up video and voice-only calls with up to 300 staff members in your web browser or the Teams app.

Share your screen to give presentations, and work on shared documents together.

Use interactive tools like polling, whiteboard and breakout rooms.

Teams Chat
Send private messages to staff members with 1-to-1 or group chats, and make group conversations by creating separate teams (e.g. a team for senior leadership).

Communicate with pupils

Google Classroom
Make announcements to a class, groups of pupils, or the whole school. These appear in the 'Stream' section.

Give pupils feedback on tasks they've completed. Comments appear in real-time, so pupils can see your marking before you hand work back to them.

Google Meet
Video or voice call pupils – you can do this within Google Classroom. Pupils can 'raise their hand' during video or voice conferencing. 

*£ Use interactive tools like polling, breakout rooms and attendance tracking.

Class Teams
Make announcements to a class, group of pupils, or the whole school.

Give pupils feedback on any work they've handed in.

Teams Chat and Online Meetings
Video or voice call pupils. Pupils can 'raise their hands' during video or voice calls.

Respond to pupils either in group conversations or 1-to-1 messages.

Use interactive tools like polling, breakout rooms and attendance tracking.

Communicate with parents Google Classroom
Set up automatic email digests to parents. These can be daily or weekly, and summarise class activity and work that's due or overdue.

Teams
Set up weekly automatic email digests to parents. These summarise work completed, when upcoming tasks are due and if anything is overdue.

Schedule a parent-teacher conference or create a Team with guest access for parents to share announcements.

*£ Microsoft Bookings 
Have parents schedule appointments for virtual meetings.

Enable collaboration between pupils

Google Classroom
Assign a task to a group of pupils and create a shared Google Doc for all of the pupils on the task to write in (you can also share spreadsheets, slideshows, and Google Sites in Google Classroom).

Google Meet
Pupils can discuss their project on a video or voice call. Staff can sit in to supervise.

Jamboard
Teachers and pupils can work together on an interactive whiteboard and share their ideas. Link this to a Classroom for all pupils to see.

Class Teams
Create a private channel for a group of pupils so they can work on a project together. Link Office 365 apps (like Word, Excel or PowerPoint) for pupils to use together.

Teams Chat
Pupils can discuss their project on a video or voice call. Staff can sit in to supervise.

Class Notebook
Each pupil can have access to a content library maintained by a teacher, a collaboration space for group work, and an individual area.

Teams Whiteboard
Teachers and pupils can work together on an interactive whiteboard to share their ideas. The entire class can see this.

Teach remotely

Google Meet
Deliver a lesson to pupils.

*£ Save a recording so pupils can watch (or re-watch) the lesson later.

Google Classroom
Upload videos you've recorded (e.g. on a mobile phone) to Google Drive or YouTube. When you set a task, you can attach the video for pupils to watch alongside any written instructions.

Microsoft Stream
Pre-record lessons and upload them to Stream. Link the video lessons to assignments and other resources (like worksheets).

Live-stream a lesson to pupils, and record it for pupils to watch later, with a transcript for full accessibility.

Test pupils' learning

Google Classroom
Set quizzes and mark them.

Make template mark schemes (called 'rubrics') to speed up marking on any task.

Google Forms
Test pupils' learning with quizzes and surveys.

Class Teams
Set quizzes and mark them.

Make rubric templates to speed up marking on any task.

Microsoft Forms
Test pupils' learning with quizzes and surveys.

Store resources for pupils and staff Google Drive
100 TB cloud storage space for worksheets, videos, and any other resources you need. Link resources to assignments in Google Classroom.

Microsoft Teams and Sharepoint Online
Upload teaching resources to a team's dedicated storage space.

OneDrive
Unlimited cloud storage space for worksheets, videos, and any other resources you need.

Safeguard pupils

Google Workspace for Education 
Disable specific features (e.g. video conferencing, text chat, or emails) for pupils. You can break this down by year group (e.g. year 6 can use Gmail, but year 4 cannot).

Google Meet

Set up calls so pupils can't re-join the call once it's ended, and pupils and staff can only join if the teacher has invited them.

*£ Record all meetings (group and 1-to-1 calls) so you have an audit trail in case of safeguarding concerns.

Google Chat
Adjust settings to log messages.

Office 365 Education
Disable specific features (e.g. video conferencing, chat in Teams, or emails) for pupils. You can break this down by year group.

Teams Meeting
Manage the meeting attendees – you can control who can join meetings and when, and how attendees participate after they join.

Record all group calls so you have an audit trail in case of safeguarding concerns (you can record 1-to-1 calls with Meet Now).

Teams Chat
Adjust settings so pupils can't chat to each other 1-to-1. Administrators can view all chat messages.

Comply with subject access requests under the GDPR Google Vault and Google Drive audit log
Search for and export data on a staff member or pupil.

Microsoft eDiscovery content search
Search for and export data on a staff member or pupil.

Further reading

Take a look at our digital education platform hub to help you choose and set-up your platform.

See what Google and Microsoft say about their platforms.

Read guidance about safeguarding and online education from The Key and from the DfE