Web conferences provide real-time, synchronous communication between people via the Internet. They can incorporate screen sharing, audio, video, text chat, file storage and whiteboards and more. Audio integration may use Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) or a traditional telephone line. The term webinar typically refers to an interactive seminar or presentation given over the Internet. A webcast refers to a live, streaming event that is viewable via the Internet, similar to a broadcast on television.
VoIP vs Traditional Teleconferencing
Voice-over-Internet-Protocol is a feature of some web conferencing products. It is an attractive option when cost is a concern. A traditional phone conference is still the preferred option because of its reliably clear sound, but VoIP is quickly catching up. Some products have higher quality VoIP than others; the Ed Tech staff has been particularly impressed with the VoIP quality of Adobe ConnectNowBETA.
Currently the School of Medicine does not provide hosting services for web conferences, however we can recommend several products:
VCU provides faculty with use of Wimba Live Classroom, which is available in conjunction with their Blackboard account. All VCU faculty have a Blackboard account; it is accessible through through the eID. Wimba features:
- Application sharing: PowerPoint, PDF, etc.
- Archiving for later use
- Equipment: headset with microphone
We recommend attending the training seminar offered by the Center for Teaching Excellence for a thorough introduction to Wimba.
- No downloads or accounts needed for participants
- Permanent, easy to remember meeting room URL
- Videoconferencing, VoIP or teleconferencing, screen sharing, annotation, text chat
- Equipment: Web camera, headset with microphone or telephone
We believe ConnectNow is the best alternative to Skype, which the SOM does not recommend because of its peer-to-peer platform.
WebEx MeetMeNow is a popular web conferencing software available for purchase on a monthly or per-meeting charge. The standard account includes unlimited meetings with up 15 participants.
- No downloads for participants; hosts need meeting manager software
- Desktop and screen sharing, chat, annotation, and streaming audio and video
- Teleconferencing included
- MS Office integration
GoToMeeting is Citrix Online's web conferencing product; it is available via monthly or yearly subscription. The standard account includes unlimited meetings with up 15 participants.
- Downloads required
- Desktop and screen sharing, annotation, chat, recording
- VoIP and teleconferencing included
- MS Outlook and Lotus Notes integration