Conferecing and Collaboration Terminology

Conferencing and collaboration technology can be confusing. How do you know which solution to use for your meeting? Hopefully this document will provide some guidance. The important point is to consider which type of meeting you are trying to have


  • Audio Confernece
  • Video Confernece
  • Web Conference
  • Webinar
  • Webcast
  • Desktop Sharing


Conferencing Terminology

Audio conference (or teleconference)

Many meetings occur by phone mainly because it is simple to set- up; almost everyone has a desk phone, cell phone, and/or VOIP client available to call from. It is also useful to have an audio-only option for other conferencing solutions.

The degree of collaboration and presence for an audio call is very limited – you can’t read other people’s body language and facial expressions, and sometimes you don’t know if they are even paying attention. Also if there is any content to review (documents, presentations, applications, etc.) doing this via phone can be challenging.

Video conference (or videoconference)

A video conference is a meeting over distance where the face-to-face communication is the primary concern. Another word for this type of meeting is “telepresence”, the key being the “presence” aspect.  Good videoconferencing solutions incorporate high definition video and audio transmission. Videoconferencing is most effective with a limited number of sites and participants. A single participant can utilize a desktop solution. A small group of participants can effectively participate from a single room if it is properly equipped. Meeting organizers should consider the desired screen layout and/or placement of participants on the screen for larger multisite meetings. If a larger number of participants is required, and most participants will be passive, you should consider webconferencing.

Telepresence videoconferencing also supports content sharing in the form of desktop sharing from a computer. The content is transmitted in a secondary channel to other participating sites. Typically this works best for presentations with slides and static images.  Richer content (live audio and video, applications, documents, forms) do not work as well. When the content being presented or collaborated on is more important, you should consider a webconferencing solution.

Videoconference meetings can be:

-          Point-to-point

-          Multiway

-          Multisite

Point-to-Point Videoconference

A point-to-point call is a two-way video conference where one site calls another directly. This can be:

-          Cisco JABBER Video-to-Cisco JABBER Video

-          Room-to-Room

-          Cisco JABBER Video-to-Room



When at least three (3) sites are involved in a meeting, it is called a multisite call. A site can be one person or one room with several people in it.  There are two ways to setup a multi-site call

-          Ad-hoc multiway – join a 3rd or 4th site to a 2-way call and create a meeting on the fly. This works best with the Cisco JABBER Video desktop software and specific rooms on the UCSF Telemedicine network.

-          Use a conference bridge. Each participant/site dials a conference bridge number and optional meeting PIN to join the meeting.

Advanced Videoconferences

An advanced videoconference involves one or more of the following is needed

  • Connecting with a room or site that is outside the Telemedicine VCN
  • Allowing some participants to connect via phone
  • More than 8 participants/sites
  • More than one presenting site
  • Meeting capture (recording) for live streaming or on demand streaming


If you are planning an advanced video conference event, please contact the videoconferencing solutions group for guidance and assistance. For best results, these types of events should be planned in advance and include time for setup, pre-testing and support during the event.


Web conference

A web conference is a collaborative virtual meeting of one-to-one, one-to-many, or many-to-many participants, where seeing each other is not as important as seeing shared content. It is called webconferencing because typically users connect via a web-browser to join the meeting. There are many features available in webconferencing solutions that are not available in traditional video conferencing solutions, such as:

-          File sharing

-          Text chat

-          Audience polls

-          Remote control

Most webconferencing solutions include options to participate via phone and/or webcam. Typically the meeting host decides which options will be used for the meeting and controls who can take on the role of an active participant/presenter.

Some advantages webconferencing has over video conferencing:

-          Remote participants can join from practically anywhere (computer and network required)

-          Mobile solutions (iPad and Android tablets) are available

-          Content sharing quality is much better than what can be achieved via a traditional videoconference.


A webinar is another type of webconferencing event where a single presenter presents to many participants. The presenter may choose to be on audio or video, but the participants are usually audio-only and are typically muted. Participants give feedback via text chat or responding to polls. A webinar solution includes options for scheduling events, sending reminders, and instructions for downloading any needed software and testing before the event.


Similar to a webinar, this is a non-interactive event involving live capture of video and presentation from a single site which is then broadcast or streamed via a web browser or other application to participant workstations.

Webcasting use cases include:

  • Online lectures and distance learning
  • Training
  • Online learning
  • General communication


Desktop Sharing

Desktop sharing is a good option for internal collaboration. Presenters can easily switch between documents and applications during a meeting. Most solutions offer options to share specific windows or applications, to prevent others from seeing your email, text chats, or other items on your desktop.

Video Capture and Streaming

Video Capture refers to the process of digitally recording a video conference or presentation. Web conferencing solutions typically have an option to record sessions for later playback. ETS offers a lecture capture service for most of their classrooms. It is also possible to record a videoconference on the TMVCN for on demand playback. There are other feature differences between the capture systems that are not covered here.

Streaming refers to the playback of a captured event, typically from a web browser. Streaming is non-interactive.

On demand streaming means you can access the recording at your convenience, after the event has occurred. When viewing an on-demand event, you can pause, skip-back, or fast-forward as needed.

Live streaming means that viewers can observe the event as it is happening (with a slight delay between real time and transmission time). There is a limit on the number of events that can be streamed live, so it needs to be requested in advance and is subject to availability.


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