Web Conferencing Tools
With the power of Internet connectivity in full force, the world is becoming smaller and smaller. Businesses worldwide are experiencing the change that the Internet and the resulting advances in technology, bringing with it tools that are designed to realize the globalization dreams of corporate minds all over. One such tool is the web conferencing tools that are continuously being touted as a cost-effective alternative to offsite meetings.
Basically, web conferencing tools are software applications that allow each participant to sit at his computer and virtually attend an online meeting. The meeting itself takes place in a wholly online environment made possible by a web server hosted by the service vendor.
Web Conferencing Tools vs. Forums
During its early days, web conferencing tools consisted mainly of posted text messages that are uploaded onto a server board, known as a message board or a forum. Subsequent changes in technology led to a gap between conventional forums and the more interactive type made possible by the incorporation of other multimedia elements. Thus, web conferencing tools came to mean a dynamic interaction between groups of individuals often accompanied by voice communication or video while mere “posted text messages” was relegated as definition for forums, message boards, or bulletin boards.
Web Conferencing Tools: Communication Options
Voice communication in web conferencing tools is made possible via a normal telephony network or a net-based one, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). The pervading technology used in today’s web conferencing tools however is VoIP since it provides a more affordable and more practical means of fostering communication between conference participants.
Besides voice, some vendors and developers also incorporate chat facilities into their web conferencing tools. Though text-based, chatting is different from posting on a forum in that messages are posted in a real time environment, thus providing for lesser feedback time and faster response. Chat is not as effective a communication tool as voice as it is greatly limited in transmitting emotions. Thus, chat facilities in web conferencing tools only come in handy when the spelling of a particular word becomes an issue or files are being sent.
Another important component of web conferencing tools and perhaps its most basic feature yet is screen sharing. This particular feature allows users of web conferencing tools to view and manipulate (to a certain extent) the presenter’s screen. The white board concept and annotation options are based on this one feature. Screen sharing allows for a more interactive discussion between meeting participants.
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KEYWORDS “Web Conferencing Tools” = 13 (density = 3.1%)