WebEx and that ‘ground control’ feeling

I’ve used several Web conference platforms over the past five years, and many of them have had their good, bad and clunky sides. From Skype and WebEx and Adobe, to those with particularly odd names, such as Oovoo and DimDim. I recently used Join.Me when working on my book, Chat Republic, and its screen-share option was stunningly simple.

But today, for a project involving NASA, and my school, we connected 27 classrooms via WebEx, and I have to say it was one of the most relaxes web chats I’ve ever had. I was nervous, because so much was at stake.

Some 425 children were all agog about being able to ‘Talk to an Astronaut’ who happened to be not just any astronaut, but the first Native American in Space, Commander John Herrington.

Students would step up to the phone (we were dialing in on plain-old-telephones to make sure the line was stable; no wireless gizmos!) and ask their questions, and could see Commander Herrington break into a smile and respond. More about that event here.

I was really impressed with the WebEx platform. It may not have the look and feel as, say Adobe, but it does the job by keeping things simple.

Sure, astronauts deal with instrument dashboards that you and I will probably never come into contact with, but for the rest of us –non rocket-scientists– the simple interface works. Especially when all we want to do is chat, just like we were in the same room.

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