2.4 Videoconferencing widget: FlashMeeting
This section introduces a widget that allows you to access FlashMeeting (FM) videoconferencing. FM provides a user-friendly interface for simultaneous video/audio/text conferencing, and makes available some more advanced features, including the ability to work collaboratively through a whiteboard, exchange files, replay meetings, view statistical analyses of meetings, create meeting minutes, as well as create and manage groups and contacts.
The ROLE project has created the FM widget to enable you to use the videoconferencing facilities on the EA-TEL server based in the Knowledge Media Institute (KMi) at the Open University, UK. This server is used on a daily basis by many hundreds of people across the world and in the following activity you will have the opportunity to see some of these FM events. FM is used by a variety of educators and learners as well as by those who simply want to take advantage of its simple videoconferencing facilities enabling virtual meetings with participants located across the world.
What is FM?
It is an application based on the Adobe Flash 'plug in' and Flash Media Server. Running in a standard web browser window, it allows a dispersed group of people to meet from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection. Typically a meeting is pre-booked by a registered user and a URL, containing a unique password for the meeting, is returned by the server. The 'booker' passes this on to the people they wish to participate, who simply click on the link to enter into the meeting at the arranged time.
During the meeting one person speaks (i.e. broadcasts) at a time. Other people can simultaneously contribute using text chat, the whiteboard, or emoticons etc while waiting for their turn to speak. This way the meeting is ordered, controlled and easy to follow. A replay of the meeting is instantly available, to those with the 'unique' replay URL.
Meeting users belong to one of three account types; Guest, Sign In and Booker.
All meetings are recorded. They may be made publicly i.e. open access or privately available.