Evaluation of Collaboration Tools:  WebEx and NetMeeting
Diana Dell, Ed.S.

“Fostering collaboration and interconnectedness is particularly important for educational institutions, as we all have similar goals that can't be achieved without one another” (Bassett, page 1).  Collaboration can be defined as the act of working together, especially in a joint intellectual effort (Dictionary.com).  In the context of teaching and learning, Clark and Mayer (2003) describe the process of collaboration as “a structured exchange between two or more participants designed to enhance achievement of the learning objectives” (p. 199).

 

Instructional media tools can be used to facilitate both asynchronous and synchronous collaboration.  Asynchronous collaboration refers to interactions that are not simultaneous.  Conversely, synchronous collaboration refers to interactions happening at the same time.  The table below details common instructional media collaboration tools and classifies their use as either asynchronous or synchronous.

 

Asynchronous

Synchronous

  • e-mail
  • Threaded Discussion Boards
  • Document Sharing
  • Web Publishing

 

  • Audio and/or Visual Conferencing
  • Interactive White Board
  • Chatting

 

 

A review of product features was conducted to discover the merits of two collaboration tools.  The review addressed WebEx Web Conferencing Communication Services and Microsoft’s NetMeeting.  The writer’s experience and satisfaction with a collaboration tool called Elluminate Live within the K-12 environment served to set the criteria for evaluation of these tools. 

 

When considering the K-12 environment, both products offer a wide variety of features to engage the learner in the asynchronous and synchronous collaborative activities using the tools listed above.  However, NetMeeting has four notable deficits.  The deficits of NetMeeting for use in K-12 schools are listed below:

 

  • lacks the ability to deliver of several types media, mostly importantly Flash, that are widely used in K-12 schools
  • no assessment tools
  • no “hands-on lab” feature
  • no “breakout session”

 

WebEx Web Conferencing Communication Services has these much needed features and is therefore the collaboration tools that best meets the needs of K-12 teachers and students.

 

References

(2004). Window NetMeeting. Retrieved June 20, 2006, from Features Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/features/default.asp

 

(2005). Datasheet. Retrieved June 20, 2006, from WebEx.com Web site: http://webex.com/pdf/TC_datasheet.pdf

 

(2006). Academic Edition™ Live eLearning . Retrieved June 20, 2006, from Elluminate.com Web site: http://www.elluminate.com/academic_edition.jsp

 

(2006). Collaboration. Retrieved June 20, 2006, from Dictionary.com Web site: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/collaboration

 

Bassett, P.F. (2004). Innovation, Collaboration, and Education. The Presdiency, Spring Issue, Retrieved June 20, 2006, from http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3839/is_200404/ai_n9401210

 

Clark, R. C. & Mayer, R.E. (2003). E-Learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.