Skype: Best suited for single presenter or one-to-one interactions, Skype allows screen sharing in “free” mode, which allows the remote presenter to share PowerPoint or graphics from their computer. Skype is limited by available bandwidth—it is preferred that a hard-wired network connection is used in place of wireless. Multiple presenters are permitted if one presenter has a paid Skype account. Skype is the easiest, most cost-effective option for a single presenter or one-to-one conference.

Requirements: computer with webcam/microphone for each participant, network connection

Cost: free for one-to-one video conferencing


Web Meetings (GotoMeeting, WebEX, etc.): These services are similar to Skype, but handle multiple presenters more effectively. As with Skype, screen sharing is available for a presenter to share PowerPoint and/or graphics from their computer. Sound is usually provided via a telephone line, permitting the use of speakerphones, which are more effective in large groups or classroom environments. These services are hosted by a service provider, so bandwidth and computer hardware are not as important, but still a determining factor; in addition, bandwidth requirements are reduced if conference audio is not transmitted over the network.

Requirements: computer with webcam/microphone for each participant, network connection

Cost: free to join a meeting; month/annual plan to host meetings


Hardware Videoconferencing (Polycom): Polycom (and other hardware-based services) leverage ISDN, phone line, or network-based connections between two participating locations: locations can range from a room with a single participant to a large conference room with multiple people. Sound and video are controlled and sent from the hardware unit. Hardware can support multiple camera connections, allowing dynamic switching to occur during a meeting (zooming on a single person, focusing on different sections of a room, etc.). Overall, hardware reliability for this option is usually the strongest as connections are optimized for dedicated performance.

Requirements: hardware, typically fixed location, ISDN line or network connection

Availability: in room 4349, 4580, and 3560 

Cost: maintenance of hardware (if ISDN is used, line costs can be expensive); network use via IP connection is free in that there is no additional cost in addition to whatever is being paid for the network connection