Agora is a simple to use and powerful online meeting tool, designed from the ground up with the non-technical user in mind. Agora fits well in virtual classroom and distance learning contexts and offers tightly integrated features such as video conferencing, desktop sharing, whiteboard and instant messaging. Agora does not need expensive specialist hardware to run, just a $40 webcam and headset.
Here is a list of Agora current features.
Many people will be familiar with Access Grid and may well wonder how Agora relates to that. Agora has been designed primarily for use by users located in their offices or homes. It has minimal hardware requirements and has no need for trained technicians to be present at sessions. This makes Agora better suited than Access Grid to applications lacking the considerable funds necessary for the creation of an Access Grid environment, schools and colleges being a perfect example. Agora could be used to connect classrooms, seminar rooms and tutor's offices over the country and potentially the world. There are a few screenshots of Agora in action below.
- How to setup your Agora Client
- How to make Agora more scalable
- How to setup your firewall for an Agora service
- Frequently Asked Questions
I am current in the process of bundling up the Agora code for insertion into Sakai's svn. A JIRA space is also being setup and will go live when the code is in.
The Agora code has been submitted for upload into Sakai's subversion repository. Agora is now officially an open source project and is released under the Apache 2 license.
The Agora code is now in subversion. You can check it out at https://source.sakaiproject.org/contrib/agora. Make sure you read the BUILDING file!
Agora has been converted to use Wicket as its display technology. If you want to build Agora from source you need to checkout the sakai-wicket project from here and build it. At some point the sakai-wicket artifacts will move into a maven repository somewhere so you won't have to build them.
Agora has some new features. You can now create a broadcast; this effectively means that the meeting creator is the only one who can send any data and the other participants can only view it. This fits the classroom metaphor very well and it obviously cuts down hugely on the bandwidth used. There is also now a 'Past Meetings' link where you can browse the artifacts generated in previous meetings. In the middle of a meeting you can click on the 'Save' menu item in the whiteboard and the whiteboard contents get saved as a png file in the resources tool. You can then browse these artifacts from the resources tool or from the 'Past Meetings' link in Agora. Another new feature is schedule integration: when you create a meeting or broadcast you can specify the start time and a duration. This goes into the schedule tool so you can see, especially when using the aggregated view in 'My Workspace', at a glance (or almost) when meetings are coming up.
Agora can now be added to your own workspace for some synoptic view functionality. In a similar fashion to the announcement tool, you can see all of the meetings that you are currently invited to without having to navigate to the worksite. You just click on the meeting's name to join it.