Monday, December 22, 2008
Posted by: Bob Grenier, PhD.
If you do not have access to teleconferencing facilities,FreeConferenceCall.com might be the answer. It provides the capability for up to a six hour call with as many as ninety-six participants. It is available 24/7. There is a function to record the call and access it later.
What is the cost? Free! However, the participants do not have toll-free access. To get an account you only have to provide your name and an email address. I have been using it for over two years with great success. Don't worry about spam, it hasn't been a problem.
The second tool I recommend is a free tool called Doodle. You can use it to poll colleagues to make a choice or schedule a meeting. I have used it for finding a meeting time acceptable to the group. I start by choosing the days and then times on the different days when I am available to meet. I then send a link to all I want to invite. When they respond, they indicate the times when they are available. After everyone has responded, hopefully there is a time that is acceptable to all. You can also use Doodle with Facebook and iGoogle.
What is the cost? Free! To learn more, go to doodle.com.
My final recommendation is Google Documents. It is similar to Microsoft Office Live. With Google Documents, you can share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with anyone who have an email address. You can designate a person as a collaborator or a viewer.
I am member of an executive committee for another organization. Recently, we needed to finalize our 2008-09 budget. I uploaded the budget spreadsheet prepared by the treasurer and scheduled a free conference call with the other members of the committee to work on it. I designated all of them as collaborators. Each was responsible for finalizing their section of the budget.
During the call, each member logged onto their Google Documents account and opened the budget spreadsheet. We discussed various entries and the person responsible for that section would enter any changes. All of us could see the changes immediately. We were able to finalize the budget in an hour.
As the chief officer of this committee, I have used it for many other purposes. I expect each of the officers to update their progress in support of our success plan each month. I can set parameters to be notified when content has been changed. This has been very helpful since I do not have to check to see if modifications have been made.
Google Documents is an example of so called Cloud Computing. Although files can be uploaded, they can also be created online. An advantage is that the documents in the cloud can be accessed from any computer with Internet access.