Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers what a big deal it was in the 90s to host a virtual meeting. I can remember a provincial meeting that was scheduled months in advance, a room full of thick wires and cables and much crossing of fingers hoping the technology would work and we would be able to see and hear each other. I also remember feeling very excited about how this technology could change our ability to work with each other over distances. The expense though was prohibitive. Though we could meet and collaborate virtually we didn’t often get to do so.
Fast forward to a couple of years ago. There was one virtual meeting platform I piloted for use with groups that regularly crashed. There were other problems too. We would be able to see some of the participants but not others. We could hear some people and not others. The longer we were online the more the difficulties piled up. Fussing with the technological issues took way too much of our time together. We rapidly gave up on that system and decided the timing wasn’t right yet for online group meetings. The concept was there but the technology did not yet meet our needs.
More recently, I have been experimenting with two different systems for virtual meetings.
Wiggio.com is a free online toolkit designed to “make it easy to work in groups”. The Desire2Learn company created this website based on their own frustrations with working in groups.
In Wiggio you can host virtual meetings conference calls, upload files, create polls and to-do lists as well as send email, text and voice messages to your group. It’s straight-forward and doesn’t require you to be super tech-savvy. The company reports that over 150,000 groups are using their website. Businesses, sports teams, event planners, and non-profits are examples of groups that have made great use of this site.
Now, that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system yet. There are still some technical issues that arise. However Wiggio has a lot going for it in terms of virtual meeting space.
VSee.com is another virtual group meeting option I have been exploring. VSee, the world’s largest telemedicine platform, ” was created by a team of Stanford University human computer interaction scientists and network experts in order to overcome the limitations of traditional videoconference tools”. They wanted to create a platform that would “work over any network, and require minimal training”. The applications that it is being used for in terms of telemedicine are amazing.
In terms of my own use I stick to the basic free option for secure video chat. Though it’s not relevant in the context I am using VSee for at the moment it is worth noting that VSee is HIPAA compliant.  You can check out more about their data privacy here – https://vsee.com/hipaa
Once again when we have been meeting in VSee there have been technical issues at times and so one group has chosen to use the back up of a teleconference at the same time as being able to see each other via this website.
Of course these days there are multiple options for hosting meetings. They certainly are easier to use than they used to be and less expensive too! What I appreciate most about these is the opportunity to connect and collaborate with colleagues from across Canada.
Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. http://www.therapyonline.ca
 HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, a US law that provides privacy standards for health information and records.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA