Join.Me at my computer

How many times have you been talking to a patron on the phone and as hard as you try to explain a database function, the patron isn’t able to follow along?   You could whip up a quick Jing video to email to the person on the other end of the line, but wouldn’t it be quicker if you could instantly share your screen!?  Join.Me is the answer!  As opposed to some commercial screen sharing conference tools such as WebEx or GoToMeeting, Join.Me is available for free and is extremely easy to use.  There is no downloading or accounts required on either end, and you can be up and sharing in seconds.

Here’s how:

  • Librarian goes to http://join.me and clicks on “Share”
  • Librarian is asked to “run” an application – this  generally does not require any administrative privileges.  (This seems to work more smoothly using Internet Explorer.)
  • Librarian sees a Join.Me tool box appear at the top of his or her screen with a number code.
  • Librarian tells patron to enter that number at the http://join.me web page under “Join.”
  • And voila! The patron sees the librarian’s computer!
It’s easy to share with Join.Me

It’s as easy as that!  Once the patron is viewing the librarian’s screen, it’s easy to show step by step directions to navigate a database!  An additional feature is that the librarian can even give a patron access to their mouse so that the patron can try their search his or herself!  Another bonus feature of Join.Me is that it has a chat function and a free (long distance) phone number for teleconferences.  For those looking for additional bells and whistles, Join.Me also has a paid “pro” account which also allows you to set up a custom code in place of the number that is used to connect that patron to the librarian.  For example, if I set up my custom code as cooklibrary, the patron would simply enter cooklibrary on the “Join” section of the website.  Additionally, the pro account also allows you to schedule meetings in advance. However, Join.Me or Join.Me Pro don’t include many of the tools that other web conferencing programs have such as highlighters, pointers, etc.

While I’m not convinced that Join.Me is the best tool for actual web conferences, it is an excellent way to quickly get sharing and could be extremely useful for any telephone reference you encounter.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Yugma and Web Conferencing

Need to meet with a colleague across town or across the country? Trying to present content or teach an online class? Need to teach library instruction at a satellite campus? There’s no need to travel or to teach in an asynchronous environment- why not try a web conferencing tool? Web conferencing allows for easy screen and presentation sharing as well as options for audio through a conference call or voice over IP (VoIP). Some programs even have the capability for a shared mouse and keyboard so that something like database search instruction can be modeled and then tried by all participants in an online, shared environment. Businesses have been using these technologies for years, but they can also be very useful in an academic setting with more and more online and distance education opportunities as well as collaboration between faculty and/or staff at different institutions.

yugma1Yugma is one of the many options out there for online conferencing. One great benefit of Yugma over many others is that it has a slimmed down version that’s available for free! With the Yugma free version, you have the capability to share your screen to up to 20 people at a time. It also gives you a free conference call number or the option to use Skype (VoIP) for all participants to be able to connect vocally. For written communication, public and private chat is also included. Yugma is also unique in that it is compatible with Mac, Windows and Linux systems.

With an upgrade to a paid account you additionally are able to share keyboard and mouse, change presenters, record and archive sessions, schedule meetings in advance, and access presenter tools (highlight aspects of screen/presentation). Prices run from $14.95 a month (or $149.50 a year) to $179.95 a month ($1799.50 a year) depending on the number of possible participants in a conference (20 to 500). An additional “Webinar” feature is available at $19.99 a month (or $199.50 a year) which allows you to have personalized web space where participants can sign up and directly access the webinar.

Yugma is intuitive to use, although I did run into some hiccups with the free account. The presenter/organizer will need to download the program, however participants should be able to access the screen share/presentation by simply visiting the Yugma website (www.yugma.com) and entering the access code that the presenter will see when setting up the session. A few things to look out for when using Yugma:

  • Although Yugma gives the presenter the option to “Invite Contacts” or “Invite Contacts to View Only”, the free version only allows viewing, so choose the view only option.
  • If you upgrade to the paid version and would like participants to be able to do more than view, they need to “run” the program which may cause administrative rights problems.
  • The latest Java will need to be installed on both presenter and participants computers
  • The teleconferencing, although free, doesn’t have the best sound quality. Skype is also an option.
  • The access code that the presenter is given when setting up the session is in a 000-000-000, however needs to be entered by the participants on the Yugma page without the dashes.

For additional options for web conferencing see the Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_web_conferencing_software