Choose a Web Conferencing Tool

The hardest part of choosing an application to run your emeeting is hammering out the types of interactivity you'll need to run the meeting. We recommend that you begin by figuring out how many people will attend the meeting, and if any of the bells and whistles that you are looking to implement are non-negotiables. Polling, recording, chat features and screen sharing are not available on all platforms, so you may want to choose based on how you’d like to set up your session. The chart below gives descriptions of the main features of several popular online meeting tools, along with links to their sites where you can learn more.

Name
Users
Chat
Video
Polls
Whiteboard
Recording
Mobile
Blackboard Collaborate
Sessions can be created by instructors from within courses or as standalone events
Unlimited
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Google Hangout
Free to use with your VCCS account or with your existing gmail
Up to 10 for video
Yes
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Skype
Create a free account to hold casual 1-to-1 video chats
25 for audio, 2 for video
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Yes

Best Practices for eMeetings

Oftentimes ensuring a successful online meeting has more to do with planning than with the application you use. Regardless of the type of meeting that you'd like to hold, take advantage of these tips for getting the most out of your emeeting:

  • Prepare an agenda and offer it to the participants beforehand
  • Thoroughly test software beforehand and provide participants detailed instructions
  • For formal lectures and presentations, recruit someone to provide technical support during the session
  • Feature multiple speakers to build a collaborative enviroment
  • Build in activities, polls and time to collect feedback
  • Create follow up tasks and activities for after the session to support future inquiry

Getting Help with Your Meeting

Having to present during an emeeting while simultaneously handling technical issues is like changing the tires on a car while it's in motion. NOVA provides training, tutorials and live support for many of their emeeting solutions, including Blackboard Collaborate.