Monday, September 17, 2007

FlashMeeting - Video and Audio Conferencing

If you've got a need for a cross-platform video or audio conferencing solution, then take a look at FlashMeeting Online  Service

FlashMeeting is a web application based on the Adobe Flash plug-in and Flash Media Server. It runs in a standard web browser window and it allows a dispersed group of people to meet from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Typically a meeting is pre-booked by a registered user and a url, containing a unique password for the meeting, is returned by the FlashMeeting server. The 'booker' passes this on to the people they wish to participate, who simply click on the link to enter into the meeting at the arranged time.

About FlashMeetingDuring the meeting one person speaks at a time. Other people can simultaneously contribute using text chat, the whiteboard, or emoticons etc. while waiting for their turn to speak. This way the meeting is ordered, controlled and easy to follow.

Afterwards, those with the appropriate privileges can view a replay of the meeting, look through any minutes of text chats, etc. and view a technical analysis of the whole thing. Here's a full list of features…
  • Video and Audio broadcast over a network or internet.
  • No download and installation - it works in a web browser with Flash 8 (or greater) plug-in.
  • Easy to use - click the Broadcast button to start - click again to stop!
  • Indicate your intention to speak with a simple queuing system.
  • Public Text chat - chat to others while watching the broadcast.
  • Private Text chat - send private messages to individuals.
  • Share a URL - open a web page on all remote machines.
  • Shared whiteboard available to share text, drawing or photographs.
  • Vote and 'Emoticon' options - share your opinions and feelings!
  • Countdown timer shows time remaining.
  • View participants either as a list of images or names.
  • Simple booking procedure to manage your meetings.
  • Secure and private meetings.
  • Low-data friendly (one broadcast stream at a time).
  • Record the meeting for easy web replay.
The downside is that it isn't fully accessible to the public in that getting a 'booker' account requires you to satisfy various criteria by the operators, The Open University. Still, if you're involved in education or community learning, then it may well be worth investigating.

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