Types of Group Communication Tools
What is Web Conferencing?
Web conferencing is group discussion that uses text messages (and sometimes images) stored on a computer as the communication medium. Participants type messages for others to read instead of speaking them.
Unlike the discussion that occurs in the face to face classroom, messages that are typed into the computer software are recorded. They can be played back by anyone in the class at any time.
Students in the class have the opportunity to consider and to respond to messages posted by classmates or by the instructor.
What Activities Are Not Considered to be Web Conferencing?
Synchronous communication. In synchronous communication and chat rooms, group members communicate at the same time. All students in the group must be virtually present at the same time to conduct synchronous communication. Most forms of synchronous communication are text based. Group members type their messages.
Voice based conferencing using speakers and microphone. This form of conferencing is synchronous, but doesn't depend on text.
Video conferencing. Video conferencing may also use speakers and microphones. It is also a form of synchronous communication.
How Does the Web Play a Role in Conferencing?
A web browser is used to access the messages and images and to submit new messages.
The messages are stored on a web server.
Sometimes old "pre-web" conferencing software has been adapted to the web.
What Types of Group Communication Software Work on the Web?
Bulletin Board Systems
What Are the Features of Centralized Forums?
They have a rich history since the idea originated with mainframe computers so has had a long time to develop. Many of the features of the mainframe software packages have been incorporated into more modern web-based software such as those listed below.
Messages are stored and treated as an ongoing conversation.
New messages are placed into the discussion structure as soon as they are received.
Often there are sophisticated features for both management by the instructor and participation by both students and the instructor.
Examples of Centralized Forums Software
There are many more.....
What Are the Features of Groupware?
Groupware usually hosts more activities in addition to discussion fora than Centralized forums do.
Groupware also evolved from the PLATO Notes files of the 1960s.
Best example(s) is Lotus Notes (1989), and Lotus Domino (1997) and Lotus Learning Space.
Has group scheduling, document sharing, integrated applications, toolboxes, templates, etc.
They are usually powerful and complex.
Since they are meant for office use they often focus on efficient workflow and not on discussion.
What Are the Features of Bulletin Boards?
They have a microcomputer origin from the late 1970s.
They have been adapted for web use.
They were originally designed to swap files and to post notices.
Each message is treated independently. It is not linked to others of the same topic.
They are usually not well adapted to discussion.
It may be easy to acquire the software free and easy to set up and maintain it.
Examples are Spinnaker and WebLine. Neither is free.
What Are the Features of UseNet?
Handles individual messages sorted by broad subject areas.
Uses standardized protocols.
Messages can be replicated around the world. They are not useful for private discussions.
Their functions have been integrated into web browsers.
There are few stand alone products.
They are free, straightforward and standard.
What Are the Features of Mailing Lists?
They are completely passive. The discussion arrives through email. Web browsers aren't used.
The messages are not threaded, that is, they are not sorted by topic. Instead, they usually arrive in the order they were written.
They can't easily handle multiple discussions, since messages about different topics arrive together.