Adobe ConnectNow is a free service offered by Adobe as part of the Acrobat.com suite of tools, by far offering the easiest method to holding a meeting online. It features a number of tools, including screen sharing, collaborative whiteboard, chatroom, shared notes, and voice/webcam chat. We’ll show you how to set up your own meeting room, then show you a more in depth look at each of the features.
Head over to Acrobat.com and click the Adobe ConnectNow button (second from the left). You should see a box similar to the above picture. Hit Sign Up.
With the magic of Flash, the login form turns into the registration form. Fill in your email (you can use Gmail aliases here) and other information it requests. Then click Begin.
When you first enter, this faux popup will show and give you the meeting URL you can give to others to enter the meeting. It’ll also give you a link to customize the URL (based off of your email by default) and an opportunity to send email invitations. It also has a checkbox to not show this message again.
You’ll be greeted with the default meeting layout, which shows 4 “pods” (a pod is a module, such as the chat room, shared notes, etc.). The largest pod is the screen sharing pod, along with webcam, chat, and shared notes pods to the side. As the host, you’re able to customize the layout, as well as remove and add pods.
To remove pods, hover over the title bar and click the “x” that appears. To have them cover the entire meeting screen, click the box icon (maximize button). To move them, click and drag the title bar. To resize pods, move your mouse to any edge until it has the resize icon and click and drag.
To view available pods (and add or remove them), click “Pods” at the top and view the listing. You can also reset it to the default layout.
The whiteboard, which is not in the default layout, is probably the most fun (and least useful) of all the pods available. It allows the meeting to draw, make shapes, and type stuff on a virtual whiteboard. Sometimes the implementation is a bit buggy, as shapes and other drawings may not erase properly. Other shortcomings include the fact that the drawing area is limited to a certain width/height and cannot be expanded regardless of how large the actual pod is.
The chatroom is basic and allows for private conversations and text colors.
Shared notes allow you to write formatted text to be shared with the rest of the users in the meeting and can be changed by anyone.
The Files Pod allows users in the meeting to upload and download files.
Adobe ConnectNow requires that you install an addon before you can share your screen. When you do install this addon, it’ll load the meeting inside another window, at which point if you decide to share your screen, will close the window and launch a smaller window with the basic modules visible. Once you install the addon, the meetings will now always launch in this new window.
The screen sharing module allows for basic annotation on the actual screen, and also lets other people control your screen if you allow it. For an online implementation of remote assistance, ConnectNow’s screen sharing is solid.
This is a basic overview of ConnectNow, and you should now be able to easily setup an online meeting room as well as have a basic understanding of the various “pods” and their functions.