Monday, 27 February 2012

Advantages and disadvantages of using online collaborative platforms for meetings, events, training and lessons.

This is an update from the post I did last year about using online facilities for meetings and conferences.  The obvious advantages remain the same e.g. saving travel costs, saving travel time, saving venue costs, saving space within organisations.  The technology provides a range of features including video and audio and feedback options such as voting.  The quality of the platforms is improving and the quality of the equipment that is available for presenters and participants is also improving.

Yet some of the issues still remain and haven’t changed much over the last year.  Some presenters continue to use it as a way of broadcasting their views to a captive audience without considering how it is being received.  Some of these issues are based on the technology – it is essential that the sound and vision quality are very good.  This applies whether it is a meeting, an event, a training session or a lesson.  It is uninspiring and disappointing to be participating in a session where, especially the audio is of poor quality.  It is difficult to concentrate on the content as you get distracted by the technology. 

The other issues are based around the type of session that is being delivered.  This is the crucial factor – delivering an event which is mainly the broadcast of information is very different to a meeting or to a training session.  Such events rely on the information being interesting and engaging and the recipient not getting bored or disengaged by the poor technology.  Personally I would prefer the presenter to be in a more formal environment than their sitting room but as long as there are no distractions then it works.
Meetings online are easy – all you have to do is check that the audio works, that the video works and that you know how to use the screen sharing facility.  Then you use the same skills as a real meeting – having an agenda and other papers and making sure everyone can participate in whichever way you choose.  Raising hands is a useful facility for this as are ‘smiley face icons’ and the chat facility if need be. 
Training sessions and lessons are a different matter.  We have been trying out different methods of delivering training and information sessions using online web conferencing / collaboration.  The important factor to decide is how much interaction with the audience is needed and the type of interaction.  It is not strictly true that the more interaction the better but if the session is split into smaller parts with some information displayed and then some interaction e.g. chat, poll etc. then the audience remains engaged.  The displaying of information and screen sharing is the factor that has in fact been the most difficult – not because displaying a PowerPoint or document is difficult but that it takes practice to do it seamlessly and move between the different options.  Any slight mistakes are amplified – the presenter needs to swap between desktop sharing, application sharing and presentation sharing without hunting desperately for the right option.  When it works, it works well but takes practice, a lot of practice.

1 comment:

  1. Online collaboration tools like RHUB, WebEx, GoMeetNow, gotomeeting etc. helps businesses in team building, project planning, company meetings, reduced traveling costs, increasing work efficiency, productivity, have better client interaction etc.