Tech Tuesday: webex

Looking to host meetings online with one or two other people?  The free version of webex is a great tool.  Businesses and educational institutions across the world use paid/premium webex packages to hold online meetings and collaboration sessions.   The free webex service, which allows groups of 2-3 people to meet online, offers much of the same functionality as the paid subscriptions and can be more than sufficient for smaller teams.

One way to think of Webex is as a beefed up version of Skype with lots of additional features to facilitate online collaboration.  I find the video, audio, and text chat features in webex to work well.  Like Skype, webex allows you to share your desktop (although I find webex to be much more reliable in this regard) but also includes additional collaboration features, such as:

  • File upload: Upload large files to present and discuss during meetings, use the comments feature to suggest changes, and organize your files in folders (250MB of storage)
  • Meeting minutes: Create relevant notes for each meeting
  • Record and playback meetings: Share with colleagues who could not attend the online meeting
  • Drawing tools: Mark up or draw on shared documents

At any point during a webex meeting, the host can transfer control over to another participant.  This new presenter now has the ability to share his or her desktop and take control over the overall meeting functionality.

Signing up for the free version of webex could not be easier.  Simply go to the signup page and provide your name and email address.  The free version includes unlimited meetings, file sharing, instant messaging and many of the other core collaboration features.  The one drawback of the free version is that your meetings can have a maximum of 3 people.

If you’re looking to video chat and catch upwith a friend who is abroad, Skype or other simple video chat services are still your best bets.  If you’re looking to host meetings and collaborate with others, webex might be the right option for you.

-Jeff Taylor

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