As a student, I’ve had classes that used Elluminate (this was a few years ago) as a method for synchronous learning in an online class and also as a meeting place when we had group projects. In this particular online course, my classmates lived all over the world, so using this e-learning platform was a great way to interact with everyone on different level than discussion postings. A bonus for the class was that it was recorded, so if a student couldn’t make a session they could access recording at a more convenient time. In my opinion, another benefit to an online synchronous class that only one person can talk at a time, allowing the speaker to express their ideas fully.
One of my goals for my class is to find a platform to tutor my students online. Fortunately,The LMS that the college that I work for does have chat available, but not all of my classes are assigned an online component which leads to a lot of individual back and forth emails. Even when I can’t use the chat tool, there is the option of using Skype or Google Talk, but I would like to use a platform that allows users to share screens or use a whiteboard. This started me on my search for an online learning platform that could fulfill these requirements and that were also FREE. In my search, I found out that are several names for this type of software including online colloborative software, e-learning platforms, web conferencing, meeting rooms, or virtual classrooms. Most of the sites charged for access although they offered a free trial period to try the product. I did find a few that were free, but with limited access or ad supported:
Blackboard Collaborate : This platform is the “new” Elluminate after Blackboard acquired it. It has a 30 day free trial for a 25 seat meeting room. After trial your account changes to the free 3 person vRoom. This seems ideal if you are interacting, collaborating, or tutoring one on one.
Anymeeting : This webconferencing site is free with ads and you have the option of audio through the phone or the computer. You can invite up to 200 people to your meeting and has the functions of screen sharing and recording.
Are there any other suggestions for free online collaborative e-learning platforms?