Deciding What Communication Tool to Use

How Important is Price?

1839.gif (136 bytes)This is a young field with new products emerging continually. If the product you want is not available at a price you can pay, someone may write software to fill the demand.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Costs vary from free to thousands of dollars.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Usually, you get what you pay for, but not always.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Some freeware is very powerful. Often Universities develop software and make it available to other institutions for a nominal price.

What Kind of Server is Needed?

1839.gif (136 bytes)Some software will run only on a specific kind of computer operating system. Software for Unix is most common.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Most software is not multi platform. Software for the Mac is most limited.

What Kind of Client is Needed?

1839.gif (136 bytes)Technology demands are not too great. Most programs only require a computer with a modern web browser.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Lotus Notes requires a proprietary client loaded on each machine.

What Else is Required?

1839.gif (136 bytes)Most require an administrator with some technical experience to install and maintain the software.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Some require specific browsers or browsers with certain features.

1839.gif (136 bytes)No two instructors want to teach the same way. If possible, choose software that allows the instructor to customize the way the software is used. Unfortunately, the most customizable and flexible the software, the more time is required to learn how to use it effectively.

What Makes a Good Conferencing System?

1839.gif (136 bytes)Separate conferences for subject areas.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Threaded discussions within conferences.

1839.gif (136 bytes)An informative topic list.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Support for both frequent and casual readers.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Search and filter tools.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Access control.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Administrator tools.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Speed

Universal Problems

1839.gif (136 bytes)Performance - waiting for web pages to load.

1839.gif (136 bytes)User Interface - students and instructors need explanation and practice.

1839.gif (136 bytes)Every product has strengths and weaknesses.