When in January 2012 we launched our online mediation project Virtual Mediation Lab for teaching mediators around the world how to add online mediation to their practice and allowing them to participate in free online simulations, the video conferencing software Skype seemed a good choice.
Why? Because, besides allowing them to have a video conference with up to 10 people, the word “Skype” sounded familiar to them. Most mediators had heard about it or had that software already installed on their computer.
1 – Good Video and Audio Quality
2 – Good Support of Mobile Devices – iPad, iPhone, Android Tablet or Smartphone
3 – Joint, Private Meetings and “Virtual” Rooms for Shuttle Diplomacy in Multi-party Disputes
With Zoom it’s very easy for mediators to switch between joint and private meetings with the parties, and create separate “virtual” rooms in order to engage in Shuttle Diplomacy in multi-party disputes – as shown in this 30-secs video
4 – Better Protection of the Parties’ Privacy
When people want to have a video chat via Skype, in order to see each other on their screens they have to share their Skype usernames, and add them to their respective contact lists. In our view, such requirement is unacceptable in online mediation. Take, for example, a contentious divorce case. Why should a wife want to share her Skype username with her soon-to-be-ex husband? With Zoom parties don’t need to share any private information with each other. When an online mediator invites 2 or more parties to participate in a video conference, she can (1) send them an email BCC (blind copy). That way, the parties can’t even find out their email addresses. Or (2) give them directly their online meeting ID, with an optional password.
5 – Annotation
During an online mediation, the parties may want to share some information – e.g. pictures, documents (contract or proposal, payment receipt) or videos – to clarify and support their position. With Zoom they can also draw the mediator’s and the other party’s attention to specific parts of that information – using simple and intuitive tools like spotlight, highlighter or pen – without having to say “Look over here” (“here” where?).
6 – Number of Participants
With Zoom, now 50 people can participate in an online mediation.
ZOOM Free and PRO Version
Zoom is available in two versions
- FREE version, for online meetings up to 40 minutes
- PRO version, for online meetings longer than 40 minutes. This is the version we use for our 75/90-min online mediation simulations and recommend for the online mediation of real cases
Interested in Online Mediation?
If you are a mediator, mediation center or ADR organization interested in online mediation, learn more about our 2-hour hands-on training and webinars