Excellent Web Tools for Hosting Online Conferences and Discussion Panels

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June 23, 2014
Below are some great web tools I would recommend for anyone planning to host a webinar, organize a discussion panel, an online conference, or a tutoring session for free or with the least cost possible. You can also use these tools to host discussions with your students around topics of interest to the class.
The tools I have featured in this list are among the most popular titles out there. They are all relevant for integration within  formal as well as informal educational settings. They are also easy to use, student friendly, web-based ( no software installation required) and above  users do not need any advanced tech knowledge to operate them.

1-Google Plus Hangout

This is my favourite tool for hosting group discussions online. Google Plus Hangout allows you to organize video and text conversations with your contacts.  Within hangouts, users can share files, documents, and photos. Video calls on Hangouts are limited to only 10 members but using Hangout on Air will let you share your hangout live on YouTube or your website. The hangout will also be recorded and automatically saved on your YouTube channel.

2- Skype

Skype is another powerful web platform for hosting virtual panel discussions and tutoring sessions. Just a few months ago Skype made group video calls free. You can use Skype group video calls to organize online live meetings with your guests. You can share your screen with them or share documents, diagrams, and pictures simultaneously while talking.

3- Wiziq

Wiziq is an excellent platform for hosting virtual classrooms and webinars using a wide set of live audiovisual and communication tools. Using Wiziq, you will be able to easily create online courses using the integrated Course Wizard. You will also be able to engage students in live discussions using interactive whiteboards, screen sharing, video and text chatting, HD video streaming, and polling tools.

4- Meet.fm

This is another good web-based tool you can use to host online discussions and meetings. Meet.fm allows you to create a meeting channel that guests can easily join just by entering the URL of your meeting channel. In a meeting channel you can share your screen with your guests as well as  files and documents . Meet.fm is available for desktop, iPad and Android.

4- Any Meeting

Any Meeting is a freemium platform for hosting online conferences. Using this service you will be able to hold webinars where you can share anything that can be displayed on your computer, including PowerPoint, Excel, Word and web pages. You can also upload PDFs and slides to Any Meeting and share them with your guests. Up to six people can video conference at once  with the possibility of recording the whole conference online.

5- Live Minutes

LiveMinutes is another good collaborative platform that facilitates video conferencing. The great thing about this tool is that it include live collaboration features similar to those found on Google Docs. Users can, besides live video chatting, work on documents in real time, edit to-do-lists, and annotate images.