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Virtual classroom for free

I’ve been making some good use of the Elluminate V-room facility, a secure virtual room with voice and video communication, chat room, interactive whiteboard and application sharing. It is free but the limit of three participants (including the moderator) limits the functionality for anything but the smallest of meetings. OK you can upgrade to whatever size room you need for bigger meetings, teaching classes or even presenting a conference … but it costs. Not unreasonable prices but significant.

Now, along comes WiZiQ which offers a very much simpler interface (good) but also more limited features (no app sharing that I can see), no privacy and it seems to run a lot slower. However, it is free and can cope with up to 25 simultaneous participants.

The no privacy point is an interesting one. Teachers can offer public lessons through the system and make PowerPoint presentations available by uploading to a shared library which can be browsed by all members. You can even search for teachers or students who share your interest.

I suppose it’s a question of “You pays your money and you makes your choice”.

I like the ethos of making the content open but I wonder if system performance and uploaded content will be credible enough to satisfy demanding and increasingly savvy participants.

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