Platforms for online focus groups & meetings

Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: research tools | Comments Off on Platforms for online focus groups & meetings

What platforms do you like for conducting online focus groups and/or meetings?  I have been looking into GoToMeeting and Mikogo, as well as Skype’s conference functionalities.

The GoToMeeting website states that it can be used for up to 15 people, and that it works on Mac or PC.  Participants can call in via phone or a computer enabled with speakers and a microphone.  The meeting leader/organizer can show visual materials by opening them up on her desktop and clicking through them (it’s essentially a screen share function).  GoToMeeting does have a free 30-day trial, but after that you need to buy a monthly or annual subscription.  (USD $49 and $468, respectively.)

Like GoToMeeting, Mikogo is a platform for real-time voice-to-voice meetings.  It offers desktop sharing and the presenter role can be easily switched.  The free (yes, free!) version of Mikogo supports meetings of up to 10 people.  If you want to use it for larger meetings, then you’ll need to buy the company’s BeamYourScreen tool, which has additional features, like live customer support.

I like Skype and have blogged about using it for one-to-one interviews.  Some advantages of Skype are that Skype-to-Skype calls are free and the program is easy to use.  However, I do see a couple of potential drawbacks to Skype’s conference call functionality.  First, each person has to have Skype loaded on their machine, and it could be a hassle to get members of large groups to download and operate it.  Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t seem to support the real-time use of visual aids, such as PowerPoint.

If you have used any of these please feel free to share your thoughts on their usefulness, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

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