How to have a meeting via the Internet

Information on individual tools and devices

Typical uses or scenarios

There are many ways of having a virtual meeting in the Internet: text-based, voice-based or a meeting with a true video connection among everybody in the meeting. In the following, we organize the discussion according to scenarios and recipes. Each scenario represents a meeting type, e.g. a board meeting with some ten participants, or a teacher supervising a student's thesis, or large classes of students being taught remotely. The recipes represent technical solutions for one or more typical scenarios, and for any single scenario there may be several possible technical solutions.

The scenarios vary according to the types of interactions they need:

  • seeing the others and being seen (how important, if needed at all),
  • hearing and being heard,
  • determining whose turn it is to speak,
  • seeing common material (which resolution is needed, is the show conducted by one participant, do others participate?), and whether
  • joint authoring of documents needed.

Scenario 1: A teacher supervising a student

Seeing is useful, but not very important, while hearing is vital. Turn taking is not a problem with two parties.

Sharing documents is vital, and the ability to point out specific places in the documents is helpful. Joint authoring is not needed, although it might be a good idea if the markings in the document could be shared.

Recipes: A, C, D, E (deprecated)

Scenario 2: A teacher lecturing to a remote classroom with an assistant

Seeing is fairly important for the students to feel being present, and for the teacher to see how attentive the students are. Hearing is vital. An assistant would be needed in order to control the turn taking in the remote classroom.

Good quality slides and demonstrations are important as the material of the lecture. Joint authoring is not needed..

Recipes: B, C, D

Scenario 3: Staff meeting

Seeing the other participants can be used for controlling the turn taking. Hearing is essential for communication. Participants need some experience or training in order to manage the turn taking seamlessly.

The ability of the chairperson to display materials to all participants with sufficient resolution is important for minutes and other documents. Joint authoring is useful (but not always necessary) for finalising documents.

Recipes: D, G (deprecated)

Scenario 4: Students working on a written assignment

Seeing is important for turn control. Hearing is vital for communication. Turn taking may be a problem, because the attendants need to focus on multiple speakers, video and document.

Common material is necessary. Joint authoring is essential, since the result should be a collaborative document.

Scenario 5: A remote student participating in a (local) lecture

Seeing the lecture is important for presence. The student should also participate through video, but this is not essential. Two-way audio is essential for participation. Turn taking and engaging the students need special attention.

Common material such as slides and presentations may be used to enhance the lecture.

Recipes: C, D, F (deprecated), G (adaptable, deprecated)

Solutions for the scenarios

Current solutions

Recipe A for scenario 1

The participants use Skype for voice calls:

  • Preparation: A headset with earphones and a microphone is needed. Both parties should have Skype installed (no administration privileges needed), and check that their local network allows Skype connections. Both parties have to register in Skype. The receiving party launches Skype to be able to answer the call.
  • Both parties have Skype open. One party calls the other by their Skype username. The other party answers, and discussion goes on until the connection is closed.

Documents can be shared by conventional means (email attachments, setting the documents to ones web home page, or by using eg. KitWiki), or by connecting with NetMeeting as in recipe B or VNC as in recipe D.

Tested at University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics Local Network -- EeroVitie - 12 Oct 2006, TeroAalto - 15 Jan 2007

Recipe B for scenario 2

The lecturer uses ViaVideo for video conferencing. The students and assistant use a video conferencing enabled classroom for video conferencing. For your local video classroom contact, see (in finnish).

  • Preparation: The lecturer ensures that their microphone and ViaVideo camera work, and that they have the Polycom ViaVideo software installed. The assistant ensures that the video conferencing classroom has been reserved and that the software works properly together with the classroom staff. The lecturer has the classrooms IP Address at hand, while the assistant is ready to receive the call.
  • The lecturer calls the classroom and delivers the lecture. The assistant delivers turns to the students when they have questions. Slides and other material can be shown through ViaVideo application sharing.

Recipe C for scenarios 1,2 and 5

The participants use VNC for desktop sharing. The roles of student and supervisor can be interchanged in the following instructions. Note that VNC may allow complete access to the remote machine, so please set a VNC password.

  • Preparation: The student opens the relevant documents and launches TightVNC Server, while the supervisor runs TightVNC Viewer in listening mode.
  • The student shares their desktop by adding the supervisors machine as a new client to the VNC server.

An easier, but more unreliable way to connect with VNC is to simply run the server and wait for the other party to connect with TightVNC Viewer.

For communication, the participants use, for example, Skype (see recipe 1).

Tested at University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics Local Network -- EeroVitie - 12 Oct 2006

Recipe D for scenarios 1, 2, 3 and 5

One of the participants acts as the host of a Adobe Connect Professional session that the others can join.

  • Preparation
    • The host sets up the session
    • Other participants log in at the URL provided by the host
  • The host grants Presenter and Host rights as required
  • Hardware requirements
    • Headset
      • Participate in the conversation
    • Webcam
      • Enable video display

Tested at University of Helsinki -- TeroAalto - 31 Aug 2007 - 1 Nov 2007

Deprecated solutions

Recipe E for scenario 1

The participants use NetMeeting for video conferencing and document sharing.

  • Preparation: Both parties ensure that their microphone and web camera work, and that they have NetMeeting activated on their Windows computer. The receiving party launches NetMeeting to be able to answer the call.
  • One party calls the other by their hostname or IP address. The parties share the relevant documents with NetMeeting application sharing and discuss over video conferencing until the meeting is finished.

In Windows Vista, NetMeeting is no longer supported.

Tested at University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics Local Network -- EeroVitie - 12 Oct 2006, TeroAalto - 15 Jan 2007

Recipe F for scenario 5

The remote student views the classroom/lecturer via Skype and the shared desktop via NetMeeting.

  • Preparation
    • Either party hosts a meeting and the other joins in
    • The lecturer shares his or her desktop
  • Skype video connection is established
  • Hardware requirements
    • Remote student
      • Headset
        • Hear the lecturer and the classroom conversation
        • Participate in the conversation
    • Classroom
      • Speakers
        • Hear the remote student
      • Microphone
        • Allow the remote student to hear the lecturer and the conversation
      • Webcam
        • Allow the remote student to see the lecturer

In cases with no video projected in the classroom, desktop sharing is not necessary.

In Windows Vista, NetMeeting is no longer supported.

Tested at University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics Local Network -- TeroAalto - 22 Jan 2007; With University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics, and University of Jyväskylä, Language Centre -- TeroAalto - 24 Jan 2007

Recipe G for scenario 3

The participants use Festoon to communicate. See the Festoon page for further information on its setup and use.

  • Preparation
    • One of the participants starts a Festoon video call inviting the others
    • The recipients accept the call invitation
  • The parties share their presentations with the others as appropriate
  • Hardware requirements
    • Headset
      • Participate in the conversation
    • Webcam
      • Enable video display

This procedure is adaptable to scenario 5.

Festoon is no longer supported by the manufacturer.

Tested with University of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics; University of Oulu and University of Vaasa -- TeroAalto - 15 Feb 2007

Common technical problems with Video Conferencing and other meeting tools

Firewalls may cause problems for many applications. Microphones or web cameras may also be set up incorrectly. Some programs may require being lauched in a specific order.

Miscellaneous Instructions



-- KimmoKoskenniemi - 07 May 2006

Topic revision: r37 - 2008-11-21 - HennaRiikkaLaitinen
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