There comes a time in most online courses where either the facilitator or the learners want to make synchronous contact. It’s fine and dandy to talk to one another in the discussion board or through email, but once in a while our humanness emerges and just wants to make a connection. The following tools enable text, voice-to-voice, and video communication.
We can use Skype and GoogleChat to connect through text, voice, and even video. However, WiZiQ, FlashMeeting, and Elluminate enable robust environments for connecting, communicating, creating, collaborating, and contributing to the conversation. These three multimodal tools increase instructor and student presence and reduce the transactional distance experienced in the 100% online environment.
All three tools enable all attendees to participate in the live text chat, audio and at least one video feed, document sharing, and a whiteboard. You will be able to invite others to your web conference by email and link or calendar sharing. All three tools work across platforms (Mac, PC, Linux).
A free tool with the following:
- No software download needed
- Automatic widget creation – embed, launch, and conduct the session on a wiki, blog, or website.
- Unlimited number of participants in a session
- Two webcams
- Facilitator controls video, audio, and whiteboard privileges
- Upgrade ($49.95 per year) for unlimited recorded sessions and downloads
- Participants must create a WiZiQ profile to join a session.
- Tutorials: http://www.youtube.com/user/WiZiQ77
The simplest of all three tools:
- No software download needed
- Enables unlimited number of simultaneous webcam transmissions. Every participant who has a webcam is seen in the web-conference.
- Automatic recordings of sessions
- Only one person can speak at a time. Participants are cued up when they click the broadcast button and will be able to speak as the person before unclicks the mic.
- Hosted by E2BN, East England Learning Grid, requires permission to book sessions
- Go to http://flashmeeting.e2bn.net, and register as a participant
- To become a booker, send educational address on school email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tutorial: http://www.iprimary.co.uk/tutorial.php?tutorialID=007
The Cadillac of tools:
- Requires a software download for each session
- Breakout rooms – put participants in separate rooms for discussion, brainstorming, and collaboration
- Only the main room is recorded
- Polls and results
- Subscription costs $499 for 50-seat annually
- Free 3-participant sessions through Elluminate at http://www.learncentral.org/
- LearnCentral members can schedule a session for large audiences at http://www.learncentral.org/group/3432/host-your-own-webinars
- Tutorials and educational opportunities: http://www.learncentral.org/
I just ran across a very cool free screencast tool for those times you want to share your desktop with others: https://join.me/
- Click the bright orange Share arrow – no need to log in
- Click ok when the pop-up window asks if it’s ok to share your desktop
- Send out the link provided in the widget that appears at the top of your screen
- You can start a telephone conference call – they provide the number and access code
- When others join the screencast the chat is enabled
- You can pause the screencast – this enables you to do something behind the curtain that your participants won’t see
- Participants are listed
- You can share controls of the screen – have a student/colleague sign up for a join.me session and send you the link; then he/she can share the controls and you can help solve problems or do a show-and-tell on his/her computer
If you want to capture the session, use one of the following:
- QuickTime on machines with Snow Leopard