August 20, 2014

BigMarker: a free, open web conferencing hub

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For those interested in non-formal learning, you may want to take a look at BigMarker, a web ‘hub’ for those wanting to teach or learn in an informal way – or for those who want to add a live conferencing session to a formal course. The company is reaching out to career coaches and experts. They are looking for more professionals willing to donate their time and knowledge to help people find employment.

Its web site states:

BigMarker is a free web conferencing community. Through our platform, you can reconnect with your family in Rio; manage your employees in Madagascar; organize your non-profit’s resources to Ottawa; teach a virtual class from Tulsa to students all over Thailand; foster a support group for cancer survivors from France to the Falkland Islands. With unlimited access to live events, there are endless opportunities for you, your community, organization, business, classroom, and social network to grow.

Technically, the functions are similar to Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate, although it does allow group video conferencing for up to 10 people at a time.

However, the main advantage (apart from being free, like Skype) is that you can make the conference either private or public, and can use the site to promote or find learning modules.

As the site is new and, like all cloud computing these days, still being developed and expanded, it has a limited but reasonable number of modules (about 300) available at the moment, although the ones I looked at seem to have well qualified instructors. The topics covered to date are:

The current theme is ‘Bring down unemployment’ and features modules on:

  • developing a killer resumé
  • how to break into the music industry
  • how to sell yourself in the job search.

No doubt there will be other themes in the future, but you would not be limited to any particular subject in setting up a web conference.

The main challenge will be to get informal learners to the site to find the kind of learning they are looking for, but I can see this being a useful link to add from a university or college student support site. It will also help with what economists call ‘frictional’ unemployment – making sure that jobs that exist are filled, but of course not structural unemployment (which requires the creation of new jobs).

For those of you fed up with getting no support from your IT staff for Adobe Connect, or unwilling to pay the fees for such services, this looks like a very viable alternative. If you try it, let me know what you think.