When the client asked me to seek out open source webinar platforms last week, I was skeptical. Open-source is part of the foundation's mission and philosophy (and mine, too, for that matter), but I had my doubts as to how well an open source webinar platform would actually work.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the meeting software that I'd used just a week before for a national leadership summit was in fact DimDim, an open source meeting and software solution. After digging around for a bit, playing with the demos and in general making a pest of myself to the DimDim staff, here's my initial evaluation (and Heather Ross, my buddy and instructional design expert, this is the answer to your question of how exactly DimDim is different):
DimDim is a free web conferencing service where you can share your desktop, show slides, collaborate, chat, talk and broadcast via webcam with absolutely no download required to host or attend meetings. There are a few versions: open source, professional and enterprise editions. The free version allows up to 20 participants in a meeting; more than that, and you'll need to upgrade to Pro for up to 100 participants.
- Software runs off a web browser; nothing is downloaded to your or participants' computers
- Up to two live video/webcam feeds per meeting--so you can host via your webcam and have one additional guest video presenter at a time
- You can share the standard presentations (PowerPoint slides, e.g.), but you can also share live websites and your own desktop live as well
- Shared whiteboards that host and participants can collaborate on and annotate
- Up to four participants at a time can be given audio access through VOIP/computer mic (not through a regular telephone line, although that might be coming)
- Text chat for all participants to chat with each other and the presenter
When this software was being used live, we did lose audio about every hour or two (this was for all all-day conference), but we did get those participants back quickly. The participants were able to see all the slides that the live attendees saw, and they heard the audio just fine as well. When I did a video demo, there was a bit of latency, but that is undoubtedly because I was logged on using wifi and not hardwired. If all video hosts have hardwired connections, I suspect the latency would be minimal (and Kevin at DimDim confirmed this--thank you!).
So far, my experience with DimDim has been fairly positive. What about you? Has anyone else tried this?