Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Which Virtual Classroom?

Today on twitter someone asked me which virtual classroom (VC) I used and I had a list for him/her as I use several. I even confessed that I truly haven't decided on a favorite as they all have their pros and cons based on the students and platform that I am using. At LANCELOT School, we try to familiarize the trainees with at least five virtual classroom solutions so that when faced with a client they can choose the one that is the most appropriate for their needs or if they go into a client's VC they can usually adapt to the new solution quite quickly. Here is a list of the ones that I use:

Free VCs I use:


Adobe Connect Now
This is free for three people. Screensharing is great. Annotation tools can be used with screensharing (the only room). All cameras can be seen at the same time.

Digital Samba
This is free for three people. All cameras can be used at the same time. One of the few VCs that allows word documents to be uploaded.

DimDim
This is free for up to 20 people. Only the host can share the web camera. Web touring and Screen sharing is really quite good. One drawback is that you can't upload jpegs.

Elluminate
This is free for three people. This is the best for low-bandwidth. Has web-touring, clock, and break-out rooms, which is awesome. The whiteboard tools are also really great. I especially like the ability to use the clock, which no other VC has. All three cameras can be seen at the same time and up to six cameras can be used with the professional version.

Spreed
This is free for up to three people. All cameras can be seen at the same time. One of the few that allows word documents to be uploaded. As far as I know the only VC with a mindmap tool, which is really cool. Like most flash-based systems, it is best with high band-width.

Webtrain
This is free for two people. Good for low-bandwidth, web touring, wonderful whiteboard tools, remote control, only one camera can be seen at a time.


Paid VCs I use:


Adobe Connect Pro
One of the more expensive VCs on the market and I jump at the chance to use it. Like most flash based solutions it is best for high bandwidth. It has polls, breakout rooms, whiteboarding, screensharing, filesharing and all participants can be seen on camera if everyone has one.

Instant Presenter
I have found this VC to be the easiest for people with low technical skills to enter and to navigate. Six people can be on the camera and VOIP at the same time. Screensharing, polls and whiteboarding are quite easy to use. It is a very basic VC, but quite good.
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