How much are we willing to spend and what are requisite capabilities on a meeting resource? The choices fall into two categories. One is from vendors and the other is termed “free source.”
Vendor-supplied methods have a number of advantages. They are professionally developed, have technical support and an easier start up. The vendor is responsible for the integrity of the product. On the other hand, these products have less flexibility in terms of changes to the product. The cost is a major concern on the part of buyers.
Open Source products must be developed, and the expertise of the developers determines the quality of the product. It is developed by a community with like concerns and needs. Technical support is not automatically provided. However, there is a greater ability to determine what elements will be included. There may be little or no cost to join. On the downside, it requires technical expertise to modify, maintain and update the program.
Like the CMS’s, delivery methods are something of a mixed bag. Not one has all of the capabilities most users want, except, perhaps, the ones with high price-tags. To start with the free: bigblubutton works well within its range of capabilities. It has a history of devoted tech people improving it year after year. What I would want added would be the ability to use PowerPoints and video. There is also a program called Any Meeting that has impressive features. Both of these are free.
My own experience has been with Blackboard Collaborate, GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex and Jigsaw. There are pros and cons to each. Jigsaw is relatively new and working out bugs. It does not function well in application sharing. Adding video, PowerPoint, image and pdf assets are easy and work well. GoToMeetins and Webex meetings I have attended have each had technical problems. Collaborate is not perfect, but it excels in sharing applications and having students interact with them. You can actually call up a QUIA game and have the students play.
Like CMS/LMS morphing, my hope is that a product will be developed that more fully meets our needs as virtual teachers.