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Wednesday Web Resources: Online Training and Web Conferencing Tools

By Mikal E. Belicove

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Carol Tice, who's been writing the Wednesday Web Resources column for the past year or so, has handed off the reins to me. Giddyap! Each week I'll spotlight two high-tech, free and subscription-based web services that operate in the Software as a Service category. These SaaS companies provide services that I think have a rightful place in today's business environment.

Before you ask, here's what qualifies me to handle this task: I started and sold an internet-based company--so I've worked in the trenches and benefited from using services like the ones I'll be reviewing. In addition, as co-author of two leading internet directories, I've reviewed, ranked and published more than 6,000 reviews of websites and web-based companies since 2007.

For this debut column, I'm going to highlight a pair of companies--Mindflash and Dimdim. Each of these hosted services get you up and running in short order, advance your learning curve with detailed help tools and offer a kick-ass blog that goes above and beyond in the helpful category. Mindflash: Just mention the words "in-house training" and you're going to get groans from both employees and your HR folks. Mindflash allows non-technical users to upload training tools on the Web quickly by using the in-house PowerPoint presentations, Word docs and PDF documents they already have. Once files have been uploaded to Mindflash, you can deliver and keep track of training courses online with a system that automatically converts your files into a Flash-based course that's super easy to administer.

Mindflash allows your company's marketing personnel to quickly communicate information and test for understanding on new products your sales force is responsible for selling. The software lets you inform, train and test anyone--staff and customers alike--without having to haul them all into the same room every time they need to test and qualify on a new product or tactic.

The great thing about Mindflash, aside from it's ease of use, is that it encompasses the entire training management process. The system sends out training announcements, tracks test taker's progress, and can even be used as an orientation tool for new employees. And it's personalized, with white labeling built in so you can easily add your own company logo to the interface.

Truth is, this is a learning management platform that is unlike any other I've ever seen, and that's a good thing! They have a helpful blog that goes way above company announcements and news. There are tips, tricks, strategies and warnings for users, each written in easy-to-understand language for those who might not be so techno-savvy.

Mindflash is currently in private beta, but Entrepreneur magazine and Daily Dose readers can use the following link to gain access to the beta version: http://beta.mindflash.com/entrepreneur. Public beta is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. Pricing for has not been announced, but there will be a free trial period followed by a paid fee.

Dimdim: Web conferencing in this economy is a godsend for those start-ups that formerly gathered the troops at expensive hotels in exotic locales to get business done. Dimdim offers an easy, open and (key word here) affordable alternative to those costly company conferences of yesteryear. There are plenty of online conferencing solutions out there, but Dimdim offers online meetings, demos and webinars for up to 20 people at no cost. You heard me; it's free for up to 20 users. You can give presentations, upload and display Word and Excel files, share web pages, write on shared whiteboards, incorporate voice and video--also for free, and with just a web browser--and no additional software is required.

I found the interface to be a bit clunky, but it works like a charm. And where else can you launch a free web-based meeting for 20 folks in less than 10 seconds? There's absolutely nothing to install, it's Mac and PC compatible, and you can share your computer screen with just one click. Oh, did I mention that it's free? Even if you've got more than 20 attendees, the cost is just $25 a month, and you have unlimited usage.

Version 6.0 is launching soon, and it includes:

  • Four-way video chat (the old version only has two-way)
  • New MyScreen application, which allows sharing of your entire desktop, a single application window or region
  • A public or private link to your original documents to all attendees at any time, ensuring document privacy.

In addition, Dimdim features a great blog with detailed instructions on how to set up and manage your online meetings.

Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. 

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