Question: When I am trying to help someone over the phone, it would be really helpful to show them what I'm doing on the screen, or see what they're doing. Is there a cheap or free way of doing this?
The IT Guy says:
There are a variety of products for doing shared-screen presentations and webinars, such as WebEx, GotoMeeting (opens in new tab), Elluminate, and Adobe Acrobat Connect (opens in new tab), to name just a few. They have a range of functionality, from just screen sharing (such as GotoMeeting), to robust online collaboration environments with voice, video, and shared whiteboards designed for live distance-learning programs (such as Elluminate and Acrobat Connect). Unfortunately, these are all programs with fees attached. GotoMeeting costs $40 per month for running sessions of up to 15 participants, with a sliding scale for larger numbers of presentations and groups. The other programs cost significantly more in return for their wider feature sets.
However, as seems to be the case in so much of the Web 2.0 world, someone has developed a free/less expensive alternative. It's called Yugma, and you can check it out at the website. It will work on Windows, Macs, and even Linux, and the free version will let you share your screen with up to nine other people. You can make anyone else in the presentation the presenter, which allows them to share their screen. It includes a chat window, but no voice. You can use a service such as Skype or a telephone conference for audio. If you want to have more people participate or some other advanced functions, there is a monthly fee to add those features. It may not be as totally complete as some of the other options, but it's hard to beat for-free, especially if you only use it occasionally!
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