Real-Time Collaboration with Web-Conferencing

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Last month, the Virtual HRD, Technology and Distance Learning special interest group (VHRD SIG) for the Academy of Human Resource Development (ahrd.org) organization held an online “Brown Bag” luncheon utilizing Cisco’s WebEx (www.webex.com) platform to connect members for this special event. Attendees joined through their computer or mobile device to experience real-time (synchronous) video in HD format from the presenter. The text chat feature was very useful for attendees to ask questions and engage with one another about the topic. WebEx (and similar web-based platforms) allows for increased productivity by meeting “within” integrative technology (see McWhorter, 2011) while avoiding costly travel expenses and time away from the workplace.

To host a meeting through WebEx, an account is required. For a group of 3 or less, the cost is free for standard quality video. Other pricing plans range from $24-$89 (allowing for 8-100 attendees and HD video; see: http://www.webex.com/plans/meetings-plans.html), and the subscription is good for a month. After creating an account, the host initiates an email with meeting link to invited participants. The attendee simply touches on the link and chooses to connect with audio through a phone # or computer. A helpful “check your audio and video” tool is available upon login. This web-based platform is easy to use and integrates voice-over internet protocol (VoIP) audio, desktop sharing, a whiteboard, text chat, and file-sharing tools; and, the presenter’s role is easily passed to others in the group. Also, the meeting is easily recorded for archiving and playback.

WebEx is very useful for collaboration within virtual workgroups, engagement of students in online learning, facilitation for faculty virtual office hours, and hosting real-time online events such as SIG meetings, webinars, and conference calls with multiple stakeholders. Now, with its mobile capabilities and free apps for Apple, Blackberry, and Android platforms, it might be the perfect tool for your next virtual meet-up!

Reference:

McWhorter, R. R. (2011). Scenario planning as the development of leadership capability and capacity; and Virtual Human Resource Development. Texas A&M University (unpublished dissertation).

For more information, contact Rochell McWhorter at: rmcwhorter@uttyler.edu

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