Web conferencing applications which enable a presenter to host a Webinar or meeting with live video and audio, text chat, whiteboards, shared files, and even desktop sharing offer countless opportunities for collaboration, online training, and remote assistance. While many of these sophisticated programs are costly, a new crop of free Web conferencing applications has emerged which offer amazing alternatives to traditional online meeting programs such as WebEx and GoToMeeting.
Librarians could use these free applications for holding office hours, reference consultations, library instruction, hosting their own Webinars, conducting live interviews, or collaborating with remote team members on projects.
VRoom by Elluminate is “three for free Web conferencing”. Elluminate lets users sign up for their own virtual meeting room (vRoom) in which they can hold Web conferences with live Webcam, two-way audio, application sharing, IM chat, whiteboard, and file transfer with up to 3 simultaneous users.
Yugma is a Web conferencing application which allows a presenter to share their desktop with conference attendees in order to demonstrate, share, or collaborate on projects. The free, personal version of Yugma enables conferencing with up to 10 people along with an IM chat interface within sessions. Professional accounts can record sessions, share files, change presenters, and share mouse and keyboard controls. The Skype edition integrates with the VOIP application and includes the users’ Skype contact list.
WiZiQ is a completely Web-based education platform which lets teachers present to up to 25 students from within a virtual classroom through live video, audio, and text chat. WiZiQ allows content sharing, provides a whiteboard and records sessions. They have a module which integrates with the Moodle LMS.
Dimdim is a free, open source live meeting software which offers audio and video conferencing and lets hosts share their desktop with attendees. This application requires no download or installation for meeting participants and can be used with up to 20 people with the free version. Dimdim offers whiteboards and both public and private chat options.
PalBee enables members to conduct video conferencing sessions complete with whiteboards, text chat interface, file sharing capabilities, and free recording of sessions. Presenters can hold unlimited sessions with up to five people for up to one hour, and also can pre-record sessions and then share them
Vyew is a fully Web-based conferencing and collaboration application which features white boards, audio and video support, and an integrated chat client. Hosts can share their desktops, take screenshots, conduct conference calls with up to 150 others, and hold conference sessions with up to 20 participants with the free version.