As you know, I keep processing Skype vs. H.323 and other ramifications and changes in the videoconference world.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is how stable and sustainable a videoconference cart is. Our Polycom Viewstations from 1999 are for the most part still running! And teachers haven’t had to relearn how to use them in 11 years.
Some Free Videoconference Services
On the other hand, free services can be challenging. Free services I’ve heard mentioned in the last couple years include:
- DimDim (oops, it’s gone already!)
- TokBox (oops, it’s gone too!)
- Can you think of any others?
Challenges of Free
- Free services can have flaky, unreliable service. Think of the December 2010 2 day outage of Skype.
- Think of the Delicious scare last December. The service could disappear just when you’ve gotten attached to it. (See Doug Johnson’s blog on tech longevity in the context of the Delicious scare)
- Sustainability. You might try all these other free little VC tools. The quality is iffy & the site may go away. You can certainly dabble in using it in your classroom; but if you want to do anything sustainable you need something you can count on.
- Some teachers are happy to change up tech tools every six months or so. But many other teachers will not waste their time learning something they can’t count on being around in the future. Changing tech tools often jades them on technology and soon they don’t want to try anything new.
- With free sites, often the product they are selling is YOU! Read more here. Do we really need that in education?!
What do you think? Does the “free-ness” of free tools outweigh the disadvantages? Or do you think we should be cautious and thoughtful about investing time and energy in free tools?