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Web Conferencing

Web Conferencing have wide utility in the business world. We can make conference by sitting in any part of the world with the help of web conferencing. Web conferencing is a powerful tool and provides a virtual meeting environment that gives the benefit of real meeting. There are various kinds of conferences held using a web conferencing information system. Depending on the nature of the conference it becomes important to plan the web conferencing information system schedule. It becomes very important to check the requirements for smooth progress of the meeting.

 

 


Even if the nonprofit is headquartered in a single location, your employees, volunteers, and fund providers may be scattered across the country — or possibly the world. And while your organization likely uses email or telephone for the majority of its long-distance communication, sometimes a full-blown meeting is the only way to hammer out the details of an important initiative.

Rather than stretching your tight budget to fly out key project team members for an in-person meeting, you might consider using a web conferencing service, which lets anyone with an Internet connection and a web browser meet and collaborate online in real time.

In general, web conferencing tools work in the same way. The person initiating the conference sets up a new meeting in the tool and then invites participants to join by sending them an email containing the meeting's time, date, password, URL, and login instructions. Some conferencing tools require participants to install a piece of software on their own computers before they can participate, though others are entirely web-based. All require an Internet connection.

The tools diverge primarily in the features they provide for collaboration and communication. For instance, some let participants speak to one another through their computers' microphones while others let everyone interact via video.

To help you choose a service that suits your nonprofit, we've pointed out features commonly found in web conferencing products and explained other considerations you should be aware of. If you're curious as to how various commercial and free web conferencing services stack up, download the comparison chart below which compares the features of the following ten products:

Adobe Acrobat Connect Now
Adobe ConnectNow, one of the Acrobat.com services, is a great way to share ideas, discuss details, and complete work together — all online. Reduce travel costs, save time, and increase productivity with a web conferencing solution that's easy to access and simple to use. Use screen sharing, chat, notes, audio, and video to conduct meetings online that can be as interactive and productive as in-person meetings. Adobe ConnectNow is free web conferencing solution with limited features.
 


Features
Screen sharing
Whiteboards
Remote control
Integrated audio choices
Meeting URL
Video conferencing


DimDim
DimDim delivers synchronized live presentations, whiteboards and web pages while sharing your voice and video over the Internet – with no download. It is a good Free commercial Web Conferencing solution for team of up to 20 with features like,

Fetures
Browser based, It works on Windows, Mac as well as Linux.
Share and Present documents
Share Computer Screens, WebPages
Share microphones (up to 4 people for Free)
Share whiteboards
Built-in VoIP support etc.

DimDim is capable and unofficially known as an alternative to WebEx that can really save money on Pro accounts. However, DimDim gained faster publicity by going open source, referred to as a free/cheaper alternative to WebEx.

Mikogo
This one is just amazing, Mikogo is an easy-to-use cross-platform desktop sharing tool, ideal for free web conferencing, online meetings or remote support. And it's FREE for both commercial and private use. The fact is, We weren't even aware of! Until someone from Mikogo team added a comment below! Everything looks amazing but Linux support is missing altogether. Mac is mostly supported. So, Mikogo works good on Windows. We feel that it may soon support Linux and that would be a thing to wait! Anyways, Thanks to Mikogo for the all free meeting suit, free web conferencing tool, it really helps. Website is very neat, features are plenty without limitation and that's the reason why it is listed in the first place!
 


Features
Desktop Sharing (for Mac/Windows)
Multiple Meeting Participants for Mac/Windows)
Switch Presenter for Mac/Windows)
Remote Keyboard and Mouse Control(for Mac/Windows)
Meeting Scheduler for Windows)
Meeting Recording and Playback (for Windows)
Whiteboard (for Windows)
Transfer Files (for Mac/Windows)
Application Selection (for Windows)
Back Monitor (for Windows)
Pointe r(for Mac/Windows)
Copy/Paste/Email Meeting Info(for Mac/Windows)
Pause Transmission (for Mac/Windows)
Voice Conferencing Service(for Mac/Windows)

Vyew  
Vyew is a new and powerful platform for real-time and always on interaction between people and content. It is a great way to do free web conferencing and lets you have unlimited meetings, SSL Secure login, 10 real time participants and more.

 

 



Features
Browser based, No download is needed. It works on Windows, Mac as well as Linux.
Hundreds of Active/Archived Meetings per User
Flexible, PowerPoint-like Authoring
All meeting content is auto-saved in real-time, always available to authorized users.
Publish your meetings via direct URL or embedded in a webpage/email.
Customizable interface with colors and your logo.
Built-in Voice over IP )VoIP, Webcam and Free teleconferencing that use standard phones within the USA to call into a conference call system etc.

OnWebinar
OnWebinar is a free web conf service that allows you to organize distance learning, business meetings, online coaching, videoconferences and interactive communication. The service includes video broadcasting, private chat, public chat, shared resources area (whiteboard, slide show presentation, desktop sharing, files and links), polling tools, videoconferencing etc.

BigBlueButton
BigBlueButton is an active open source project that focuses on usability, modularity, and clean design — both for the user and the developer.

OpenMeetings
OpenMeetings, an Open Source Free Web Conferencing tool that is worth trying. It supports a lot of features…

Features
Video/Audio
See Desktop of any participant
Whiteboard with drawing, write & edit, dragNDrop, Resizing, Images (DragNDrop from Library), Symbols
Safe/export Drawings from whiteboard and load it next time, edit and resave
Document Importing
Send invitation and direct links into a conference room
LDAP-Connector
Remote SOAP-Gateway for Single Sign On, integration and remote administration
Moderating System, User-/Organisation-/Moderating- System
Private and Public (Organisation only) Conference-Rooms

Other Programs
IBM Lotus Live
Microsoft Office Live Meetings
ReadyTalk
Cisco Webex Meeting
Yugma Pro
YuuGuu
Zoho Meeting

Installation and Setup

Required Software
Certain web conferencing services require that the meeting initiator, and in some cases the attendees, install a software program or browser plug-in. If you decide on a service that requires such software, you'll need to make sure before your first meeting that the appropriate parties are willing to install the application and understand how to do so. Also, you should check to make sure that meeting initiators and attendees are running an operating system that's compatible with the software.

Integrated Invitation Features
Many web conferencing services provide features that interface with Microsoft's ubiquitous Outlook email application. If an organization plans to hold regular or recurring meetings with a large number of attendees, choosing a service that adds the meeting's details to participants' Outlook calendars can help ease the planning process. For added convenience, some web conferencing tools also let you schedule or join meetings from directly within Outlook.
 


Collaboration Features
Screen-Sharing Capabilities
One of the most common collaborative features found in web conferencing services is the ability to share resources on one computer with the entire group. While the majority of web conferencing tools will let the presenter show attendees' his or her desktop or certain documents, others go one step further by sharing chosen applications in a full-screen view or by allowing the presenter to highlight a specific portion of his or her screen.

Multiple Presenters
Since meetings frequently include staff members and volunteers who have expertise in different areas of a project or an initiative, the initiator may want to hand off presentation duties to someone else. If your organization needs to run meetings this way, look for a conferencing service that allows for multiple participants to assume presentation duties.

Drawing and Annotation Tools
In the course of presenting a document or a web page to your colleagues, you might need to underscore certain points or note ideas generated during the discussion. To this end, many web conferencing services provide annotation tools — such as pencils, pens, and virtual sticky notes — similar to those found in popular graphic-design applications.

Whiteboard
If an organization routinely uses dry-erase whiteboards to capture notes and thoughts when holding in-person meetings, you may want to look for a web conferencing service with a virtual equivalent. A whiteboard gives meeting participants a dedicated space for brainstorming ideas or outlining projects, a potentially useful feature when you're bringing people together to collaborate rather than simply presenting information.
Communication Features

Text Chat
Instant-messaging (IM) is a rapid form of text communication that can often be more efficient than sending email back and forth. Just about all web conferencing services offer a built-in text-chat tool that participants can use to communicate with specific attendees or the entire group, eliminating the need for attendees to install or use a third-party IM client.

Teleconferencing
Just because you've moved your meetings to the Internet doesn't mean that you have to abandon traditional conference calling. Most web conferencing products include some form of voice-calling feature, allowing you to talk to fellow participants while the meeting is in progress. While some services include a free teleconferencing option, others charge to use this feature; in either case, your organization will need to foot the bill for any long-distance fees it accrues. Also, if your nonprofit already uses a third-party teleconferencing provider, you may want to check whether it can be integrated with online meeting tools.
VoIP

Besides teleconferencing, some online-meeting services also offer audio communication in the form of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), a technology that allows users to make telephone calls over the web. Generally speaking, VoIP offers cheaper calling rates than teleconferencing services, though the quality of the calls is often not as good. Note that in order to use a VoIP application, all callers will need to purchase headsets that can be connected to their computers.

Videoconferencing
If you need your online meetings to closely resemble an in-person gathering, consider a service that offers a videoconferencing feature. Videoconferencing lets participants with webcams — small, inexpensive cameras that send images over the Internet — to broadcast a video image of themselves into the online meeting. While videoconferencing can help lend an immediate feel to web-based meetings, many services that offer this feature will also charge your organization a fee to use them.
Other Considerations

Recording
One advantage that many web conferencing services have over in-person meetings is the ability to record entire meetings (including audio) as a video file. This way, if meeting attendees forget important points or need to reference presentations at a later date, they can simply view the recording rather than contact other participants with questions. Some services allow meeting initiators to store recordings on their local machines, while others host the files on their own site, a point to consider if your non profit's computers are short on hard-drive space.

Subscription Versus Pay-Per-Use Plans
How often your organization plans to hold online meetings is a key factor in deciding whether you should select a service with a subscription model or one that charges you on a per-meeting basis.

If you just need to hold occasional, small meetings, a pay-per-use plan — which generally costs around 30 cents a minute per participant — might be the most economical choice. On the other hand, nonprofits that need to hold larger weekly meetings may find it cheaper to subscribe to a service that charges a flat monthly (or yearly) fee for a set number of participants. If you do decide that a subscription makes the most sense for your organization, check to see whether the service locks you into a contract, and make sure you're comfortable with the terms.

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