APC Online Meeting Spaces
APC online meeting spaces is a project focused on providing APC members and partners with online spaces that will allow them to replace some of their travel with online meetings. The spaces will encourage more direct online communication while keeping in mind local context and constraints stemming from it (bandwidth, hardware requirements, software policy, etc).
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APC online meeting spaces is a project focused on providing APC members and partners with online spaces that will allow them to replace some of their travel with online meetigns. The spaces will encourage more direct online communication while keeping in mind local context and constraints stemming from it (bandwidth, hardware requirements, software policy, etc). Objectives of this project for which APC has partnered with The International Development Research Centre IDRC are:
- Development of a set of tools that will meet the various needs of online practitioners for online meetings and collaboration
- Development of a support and capacity building system which will make it possible to keep these spaces running in future.
- Capacity building of ICT4D practitioners in using the spaces
- Research into online meeting and collaboration tools
APC believes that in order for such system to be efficient, it must not get ‘locked’ into one specific online meeting system. On contrary, APC explores a whole set of tools that are appropriate for ICT4D community and its specific context, and we are dedicated to offer adequate tools to those many colleagues who are on low bandwidth and using old Hardware.
APC is developing a system of service provision and consultancy on online meting platforms. The service will be available to APC members and partners from ICT4D community. It will be designed to help organizations who are in the process of replacing F2F meetings with online meetings, or are for other reasons interested in exploring opportunities for strengthening their online collaboration strategies and skills.
The service will include:
1. Needs assessment
Review of current meeting/collaboration strategies and suggestion for the most appropriate online tools and their usage.
2. Providing ‘space’ on chosen online meeting/collaboration services, licensed to (or hosted by) APC
3. Online training in using specific tool/s
Covering both technical support (particularly in case of self-hosted tools), as well as solving momentary hick-ups that always accompany initial steps with similar new tools (lost passwords, problems with A/V settings and other configuration, etc)
5. Facilitation assistance and some limited assistance with meetings documentation
APC is developing a system enabling management of these meeting/collaboration spaces (booking, permissions management, usage tracking, etc).
APC purchased a license for using a space/island in SecondLife, as well as a license of Blackboard Collaborate (Former Elluminate vClass online) meeting space.
APC will include Moodle Online Learning Framework into the service scheme. The tool will be hosted by APC and we will make use of our previous experience with various interactive plug-ins for Moodle which make it appropriate for certain types of synchronous online meetings/collaboration. Other open source self-hosted tools will be evaluated and included in the service, if appropriate.
Further research (possible future alternatives)
APC closely follows the development of open source online meeting spaces, as well as artificial worlds/systems similar to SecondLife (such as Open Croquet, OpenSimm, Sloodle and Ogoglio). In the long term perspective, these tools are likely to be more appropriate working environment for ICT4D community than SecondLife,
Service informed by ‘user reality’ and privacy concerns
Given the profile of APC members and partner organizations, a strong emphasis when choosing the tools is being put on interoperability. Other important characteristics, such as hardware and bandwidth requirements determine the recommendations for specific tools in particular cases. Therefore it is important for APC that the service includes variability of different tools appropriate for very different scenarios of usage.
APC closely follows privacy issues related to the use of some popular proprietary online services. Service providers’ policies on (and practice in) dealing with users’ data is a very important factor that determines whether specific tools will be included in mentioned service scheme.
As part of this initiative, APC will explore various sustainability models for each of the tool.