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Features

Features

Site: Jisc Moodle Archive
Course: Web Conferencing
Book: Features
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Saturday, 26 September 2020, 10:00 PM

What is Web Conferencing?

Web conferencing is a form of real-time communication in which multiple computer users, via the internet, occupy the same space by accessing a tool using their web browser.

Web conferencing allows users to conduct business meetings and seminars, make presentations, provide demonstrations and online learning opportunities and offer direct customer support.

When choosing a web conferencing platform you will need to determine how you intend to use it. Make sure the features are useful and suitable for your needs. For example, one tool may provide you with many features to support webinars and teaching and learning, but these might be redundant if you want to conduct meetings.

This toolkit has been designed for browsing and is not intended to be read in a linear fashion. So if you are mainly interested in delivering webinars, you only need to visit that section for all the appropriate advice and guidance.

Typical Web Conferencing Platform

Blackboard Collaborate is a fully featured web conferencing platform comprising all the components needed to carry out online teaching and learning, webinars and meetings in a live environment. The illustration below shows a typical screenshot and the features you would expect to find. Other web conferencing software will have similar features although the layout may be somewhat different.

Typical Meeting Platform

Webex Meeting Centre is a fully featured web conferencing platform comprising all the components needed to carry out online meetings in a live environment. The illustration below shows a typical screenshot and the features you would expect to find. Other web conferencing software will have similar features although the layout may be somewhat different.


Typical Features

The features shown below are the bare essentials and will be found in all web conferencing platforms.

Audio

This is an essential aspect of web conferencing as it allows the host/presenter to communicate with session/meeting participants. One way or two way audio is available in most web conferencing packages. Audio can be delivered via the internet (voice over internet protocol - VOIP) or by a phone bridge (audio conferencing). Most applications will have some kind of 'wizard' to test audio settings.

Video

One-way or two-way video is offered by all web conferencing platforms. This is a very bandwidth-intensive feature, which often limits its use to participants using broadband connections. Using live video throughout a session can be very distracting; you should use it judiciously. If face-to-face interactions are critical, consider using a traditional classroom approach instead.

Chat

Text-based chat allows the participants and presenter/trainer to communicate with one another through text messaging. Private messaging allows participants to signal difficulties without disrupting a session. Often, chat discussions (or transcripts) can be saved as text files and used after the event is over. Participants who are more reserved are often more likely to interact when text chat options are available. Questions can be “parked” to be answered later – either during or after the session. If you have a co-facilitator, they can monitor the chat to identify and fix technical problems without interrupting the session. If you happen to be using a subject-matter expert, they can monitor the chat pane in order to answer content-related questions that may be out of the scope of the current discussion or activity.

Whiteboard

Roughly the online equivalent of a traditional flip chart, whiteboards allow speakers/trainers and participants to post ideas. The primary difference is that many whiteboards allow multiple people to write at the same time. Images can be placed on prepared whiteboards (often in the form of Power Point slides) ahead of time or pasted during the session. You can use the whiteboard for anything you would use a flip chart or marker board for in a traditional classroom/presentation/meeting setting, for example, you can capture participants’ ideas in flip-chart style.


 

 

Facilities that promote interaction

With more and more teaching taking place online it is important that web conferencing platforms have a variety of tools built in that compensate for the loss of eye contact, body language and provide feedback. Here are 3 tools that enable interaction between trainer-to-learner, learner-to-learner, and learner-to-content. Web Conferencing is recognised not only as a mechanism to distribute content, but as an opportunity to implement learning strategies that engage learners, increase interactivity, and promote collaboration.

Emoticons

Feedback tools

Emoticons can be used to help you to get a quick check on the pulse of an online session and allow the participants to appraise the trainer on the pace and clarity of the content. Asking participants to provide feedback can be a good re-engagement technique if the audience is not participating. This feature is seldom found in web conferencing platforms that specialise in convening online meetings.

Polls & Surveys

http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=download&id=1395770

Use surveys and polls to determine whether the participants understand the material to keep them tuned into the discussion. Use surveys to transition to a new topic by asking questions about the new topic and then commenting on the results. This feature is seldom found in web conferencing platforms that specialise in convening online meetings.

Annotation Tools

Many web conferencing services offer a whiteboard and annotation tools allowing the host/presenter or the attendees to add content live during the web conference. Allow collaborative working, for example, pooling ideas to create a list or simple mind map. They can also offer an alternative way of voting/supporting ideas by marking content already on the whiteboard or a slide with the pen or drawing tools

 

 

Features that facilitate sharing

Recording

The ability to record is very useful, it provides you with a secondary resource which can be used by those who missed the live web conference or revisited by those that did, perhaps for revision puposes. Links to recordings can be sent out by email or added to websites.

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Screen sharing

This facility allows you to share your full desktop and means that your viewers can see everything on your screen as you open it and move your mouse around. Screen sharing can be really useful to demonstrate how to use software or to showcase resources from your PC. It also give you the ability to share any type of document with your participants (by opening it up on your PC) rather than be limited to just the main presentation.

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Web tours

A web tour is similar to desktop sharing but allows you to take participants to specific web pages through your PC. This facility can be very useful to show web based resources and how to make the best use of them.

https://www.google.com/search?as_q=Web+Tour&tbs=sur:fm&biw=1525&bih=745&sei=2igvUoDcI8ethQf4noCADg&tbm=isch#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=759yWi32SGL5UM%3A%3BGmDdzYG7j9fIwM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Ffc07.deviantart.net%252Ffs70%252Fi%252F2013%252F119%252F1%252Fa%252Fopentalk_2013___web_libero_e_open_source___sfondo_by_linuxbird-d63h0j5.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Flinuxbird.deviantart.com%252Fart%252FOpenTalk-2013-Web-Libero-e-Open-Source-Sfondo-368629745%3B1024%3B724

File sharing

Most web conferencing platforms will allow the moderator'facilitator (webinar host) to share files with participants. Unlike in a web tour where attendees see a document on the web conference host's desktop, shared files can be downloaded for participants to keep and make use of during the session or for activites afterwards. While file sharing can be achieved in other ways being able to make relevant documents instantly available live during a web conference can be very convenient for all. 

https://www.google.com/search?as_q=File+Sharing&tbs=sur:fm&biw=1525&bih=745&sei=uSkvUtLSEo2BhAf8xoH4Bg&tbm=isch#facrc=_&imgdii=EoMrNICucevJ8M%3A%3B_IPWYIM6RknukM%3BEoMrNICucevJ8M%3A&imgrc=EoMrNICucevJ8M%3A%3Bk2CbPi6-jbaqVM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F4%252F4b%252FPuzzly_sharing_%28from_licensing_tutorial%29.svg%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fen.m.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FFile%253APuzzly_sharing_%28from_licensing_tutorial%29.svg%3B326%3B215

Breakout rooms

This advanced feature is only likely to be found in premium web conference platforms. Breakout rooms allow you to divide your participants in to groups and send them off in to separate rooms for discussion and activities. Usage would be a timed activity, with all participants returning to the main room at some point. While breakout rooms can take your web conference to new levels of interaction they are also more demanding to manage, making it essential to plan your approach carefully in order to fulifill your objectives for including them. This feature is seldom found in web conferencing platforms that specialise in convening online meetings.

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/484322

Useful Resources

This section is used to provide general information about web conferencing and some of the thinking behind its use.

Charles Jennings

Charles Jennings is a leading thinker, practitioner and consultant in the areas of performance improvement, change management and learning. Click on the video below to see Charles introduces the concept of 70 20 10 learning and how it can provide a new way to think.

Bob Mosher

Bob Mosher is an active and influential leader in the learning and training industry and is world renowned for his pioneering role in e-Learning and new approaches to learning. Click on the video below to hear Bob talk about the 5 Moments of Learning and how organisations still struggle to break free from a traditional formal 'learning event' instead of ensuring that people can perform effectively when they are called upon to act.

Cindy Huggett

Click on the link below to visit the website of Cindy Huggett to see how she helps trainers and designers move to the synchronous virtual classroom and how she helps trainers to transfer their delivery skills to the online environment.

Cindy Huggett - Online Training Consultant

Click on the link below to see an Activity Selection Grid with explanation and examples of the typical tools you will find in a web conferencing platform.

Activity Selection Grid