Facebook has recently launched a new video chat service called Messenger Rooms, apparently, as a response to the increasing demand on video calling services during the lockdown. As is the case with other similar tools (e.g., Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom, to mention a few), we always look at the educational potential of these services and see how they can help us, teachers and educators, further our teaching/learning objectives. With the existing features it provides, Messenger Rooms seems to be a good video conferencing application to use in distance learning. You can use it with your students and/or colleagues to hold chat sessions (and remote learning activities) that support up to 50 participants. Unlike Google Meet, for instance, which forces a time limit of 60 minutes per call, Rooms has no time restrictions on the duration of your video chats.
The great thing about this service besides being free is that invited participants can join the conversation even if they have no Facebook account. The service works online and there is nothing to download or install. You can easily create a room from Facebook or the Messenger app (click on People then ‘create a room’) then invite others to join. For invitees with no Facebook account you can share with them a generated link. As the admin of the room you can adjust the settings of your room the way you like: you can make it private, select who can view and join it, remove people from a call, or even lock your room. When you lock your room no one else can join it. You will also be able to see rooms that others create if they are open to you. Check this page to learn more about how Messenger Rooms handles privacy issues.
Note that Messenger Rooms is still rolling out and is not yet available everywhere. Watch the video below to learn more about this new service.