Free Web Conferencing Tool
Those who know me will attest that technology evangelism is something I tend to do without noticing anymore. This has bled into my personal life as I have found myself suggesting web tools to family members over Christmas dinner. (Ouch) But back in the professional realm I wanted to highlight a new development in some free, up to a point, communication tools.
In the past I may have mentioned Yugma, which is a free online web conferencing tool. Within a shared space users can chat, share documents, brainstorm, and even give control of their computer to a presenter. The only limitation was the somewhat clunky phone conferencing feature, which made setting up the voice chat often more time consuming than the meeting. The free version also only supported 10 users at a time, so the meetings needed to be small.
To solve some of the phone conferencing issues, Yugma is now a featured Skype Extra, on the free web application known as Skype. If you haven’t tried Skype, and you spend more time online than off, you may want to give it a go. This tool provides free online calling and a reasonable rate for calls to land lines. The Yugma addition sets up the possibility for a model featuring both services working in unison. This partnership could then help make meetings a bit easier when individuals must collaborate over large distances.
To me this seems like an easy solution for libraries with multiple branches, international campuses, or those who just work remotely. In a way, this model could also be used for many green initiatives as it cuts down on travel time, especially for meetings that require driving between locations. True it isn’t a substitute for a face to face meeting, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have.