This is the seventh in a series of forum posts asking for feedback on the software and services around the different categories of Classroom 2.0 programs. This time it's online meetings: Elluminate, Flashmeeting, Skype/Skypecasts, Google Talk, etc. I'm particularly interested in desktop sharing, video capability, and threaded discussions.

Which are your favorites and why?
What features are important to you?
(If you're feeling verbose) What are the pros and cons of the programs you've tried?

Hopefully, these discussions will provide an unparalleled reference for new users making choices about what tools to use.

Tags: meetings, reviews

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I would like to try Google Docs to prepare a conference presentation with co-presenters. I haven't tried it yet but have heard that other people's writing appear live on the screen as you work together. Sounds ideal. I would like to get into other technologies, but it's important to me that they are free.

Hi Richard, I am a great fan of google docs. You can share in real time and even chat through the chat function. The presentation can be compiled in google docs. I find google docs extremely user friendly and have shared them both within Australia and on a global basis.
Hey Steve,
I've used several tools over the past few years and Elluminate has been the hands-down best tool for synchronous meetings. It's audio/video, desktop/application sharing, slide presentation, chat, polling, groups (break-out rooms), web tours, and archiving all have worked quite well for groups large and small. I'm not sure how threaded discussions fit into a synchronous tool; they seem more suited for an asynchronous tool. I'd love to see a synopsis of the feedback you get. Feel free to add to this wiki page if you care to:
Very nice work on your wiki. Thanks for the good report on Elluminate.

I want some threaded discussion chat capability because I am so tired of telephone conferences that require no productive output except those talking! :)

Like you site on Virtual Classrooms. We are about to start with StudyWiz Spark. Do you know anything about it?
I have tried Elluminate, flashmeeting, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, and Discovere. My favorite is Discovere. It is simple to use, it's cross-platform, the learning curve is not steep at all, the file size generated is amazingly small, it works on slow bandwidth computers and takes just a few minutes to put the recording up on the web to archive. for details. There is no video capability with this application but I sometimes use it in conjunction with skype. The most important feature for me is ease of use.
I am just starting to work with Elluminate. Got my own room and an academic year for my district. Seems like a great tool and if it goes well, we will integrate it with Moodle next year.
Cost is a concern so we use DimDim in our district.

Inside our our network we use the open source server

If someone wants to give a training or meeting outside out network (from the trainer to the teachers at home), the meeting is limited to 20 people but is available anywhere, then we use

I'm using Adobe Acrobat Connect (formerly Breeze) with an instructional design class I'm taking this summer. I think it is pretty user friendly on the student end. The instructor's presentation and interaction with students is pretty seamless. I haven't had any problem with chatting, using a microphone to participate, view powerpoint presentations, downloading documents posted by the instructor through the interface, etc. It's also nice to see streaming video of the instructor in the corner of the screen. I had to use Tapped In for another class and found it not as sophisticated. I've used Elluminate once for a web meeting and thought it was just as good as Connect.
I used WiZiq for summer book club discussion and I'm not sure I know enough to comment. I did have lots of echo and static problems but I'm sure that was due to the inexperience of all users - mostly myself and kids. During summer months we don't have access to the district tech support folks so I had to wing this on my own and found it to very user friendly. The program itself is wonderful... easy to upload ppt, images, interactive white board, chatroom.
At Longwood we have utilized Wimba for the awesome integration it has with Blackboard. It allows screen-sharing, full whiteboard, powerpoint importing, video, audio, and sharing all those tools with the viewers.

I'm a big fan of Google but I think their offerings in this space are limited at the moment. I love Skype but I'm not sure that it works well for group discussion and interactivity. 37Signals is putting out some great stuff with Basecamp, Campfire, and Writeboard. Usually their products aim for simplicity so theirs not a large featureset but they end up being very user-friendly.

I did a blog post on this topic awhile ago with more information on what I liked and disliked. Check it out here.
I've used Elluminate and have really enjoyed the experience. It has worked very well for different classes I have been in. I can't speak to its video capability, but it allows both threaded discussions while the whiteboard and microphone. I haven't used any of the others though.



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