Recently, I have been working with a company that makes extensive use of WebEx meeting. (A Cisco product) This is is a virtual meeting place site.
The company/host establishes a virtual meeting room. Payment is based on number of attendees and length of time. We have kept a meeting room open for over 4 hours, but I imagine that the time could be much longer. Many of the sessions I was involved in were training oriented.
This service allows for many functions of a normal training session to be completed on line. The instructor can post an agenda, other class materials and links to other site. Multiple tabs or pages are provided for this. There are several interactive features which are also provided. These include attendance, polling, surveying and chat. Attendees entering the room automatically are identified and the instructor can check them off against the master list. Attendees can “signal” to the instructor via various symbols, such as a raised hand for a question.
They can also indicate completion of a task by also adding a predefined symbol, ie a smiley. A testing function also exists for this service. Tests (multiple choice) are prepared in advance and then released to the participant when the instructor desires. Once completed the test is submitted and graded automatically. Both the instructor and the individual participant see the results. A test can be retaken, if that is allowed. Participants can also share their own desktops with the class. This is particularly useful when training on the use of other software tools. The class can follow keystrokes or observe screen output to better understand functionality. Voice communication can be done either through a conference call feature or through WebEx own VOIP system. The only limitation to the VOIP system is that the instructor must give the “mike” to a participant before they can speak. This can be accommodated by using the signals discussed above to request a mike.