webinar ware wars

Having recently test-driven Wimba Classroom with the University of Otago, I have started looking more generally into applications for synchronous web conferencing (hence the unwieldy portmanteau “webinar”).
A cursory surf suggests there’s a swiftly swelling bubble of webinar wares, ranging from free open-source to expensive business variants. And proliferating almost as swiftly are online reviews and critiques of these (helped along in a modest way by this entry of course). The Open Source Advocate identifies three OS options (although OS doesn’t also necessarily mean “free”). Athabasca U has tested dozens, possibly hundreds of online teaching technologies, over thirty of which are webinar wares (see header B at the link).
To add my own two cents’ worth, Wimba delivered a qualified success: my presentation transmitted well, but reciprocity — fielding feedback from delegates on-site at Otago — was unreliable and intermittent (despite hardline connections at both ends). Come to think of it all went well until I had to switch computers; maybe it was a local software issue? Ayway, my session included two other remote contributors, both of whom used Skype, which seems to be holdings its own as a webinar solution.
But with such a crowd of competitors, it seems that one (or even just a handful) will have to emerge eventually as a gold standard. (And I hope it’s free … or at least reasonably priced.)

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