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Five video conferencing tools you didn't know you had


Virtual whiteboard capabilities simplify note-taking

Visual Editor: Sarah Evans

The ability to take notes and share them with other users on a video call can be a vital part of meetings. Video conferencing service providers usually offer some kind of note-taking capability, whether it's a virtual whiteboard or letting users annotate shared content.

Cisco offers both real-time annotation and virtual whiteboard features in WebEx. Annotations allow users to edit content that has been shared on a call, while the whiteboard feature offers more free-form drawing and note-taking, Melody Kee, senior group products marketing manager at Cisco, said.

"A lot of people don't know you can annotate the conversation," Kee said. "You can ask for control of the conversation and start marking up slides during a meeting."

A virtual whiteboard is a feature that is not widely used, according to Nemertes Research analyst Irwin Lazar. Notes taken using the virtual whiteboard feature can be saved and shared with users after a meeting has ended.

Polycom has a feature similar to a whiteboard called the VisualBoard.

"Whiteboarding can be complex and video feeds can't always pick up on it," John Antanaitis, vice president of solution marketing at Polycom, said. The VisualBoard fills a collaboration gap that allows users to connect their computer or laptop to the board and access cloud storage, and share content as well as annotate and email files.

"Users can see everything that's taken place -- even on mobile," Antanaitis said.

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How often do you use video whiteboard and annotation features during a meeting?
I use video whiteboard capabilities quite often at work. We’ve started making heavy use of online conferencing over the past couple of years, and the ability to share a whiteboard with someone in another location is a fantastic benefit when brainstorming.
It’s good to see so many tools out there that offer this type of communication and integration. I remember when our company first started looking onto electronic whiteboards. We had gotten a couple for some of our scrum teams, who didn’t like how the devices were meant to be used, so they were basically used as traditional, non-electronic boards (I actually saw one wheeled into a training event for that purpose last week!). Even though that was just a few years ago, it seems like another world now that video conferencing and virtual whiteboards are the norm.