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Online Conferencing

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Virtual Learning EnvironmentsEdit

Microsoft Live Meeting

Horizon Wimba Live

Macromedia Breeze

Elluminate

NetTutor

Centra

WebEx

WebHuddle

DimDim

Audio ConferencingEdit

Skype allows you to audio conference up to 8 people when running a dual core machine. You can also audio conference up to 100 people using SkypeCasts. This is a beta service and can be a big quirky. Skypecasts are open to the public while free, but you can mute everyone and selectively unmute listeners to participate in the conversation.

I would also suggest looking into web streaming software such as ShoutCast server (runs on Linux) that allows you to stream conversations out onto the Internet --- basically a radio broadcast. You can learn more about this type of technology at www.webcastacademy.net.

This type of audio broadcasting, with a chat room and WebHuddle in the backgroud, and allows for much of what you would use in a traditional WebEx scenario. Albiet a bit more complex.

Online Synchronous Conferencing Software Review CriteriaEdit

Must include capability for:

  • Multiple access levels (administrator, moderator, participant, etc)
  • Shared whiteboard, capable of multiple screens
  • Allow uploading of PPT presentations
  • Text based chat
  • Advance Organizer of slide shows
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Application sharing
  • Classroom control features, such as hand raising and sequencing
  • Control level of access to communication by individual
  • Sessions must be recordable and viewable later
  • Ability to work behind firewalls or through a proxy server

Desired capability:

  • Single sign on
  • Multiple platform support (PC, Mac, Unix)
  • Transparent installation of any necessary client software (e.g. Flash, Java,)
  • Adaptive accessible technology
  • Synchronization if entering late or lost connection
  • Instant polling or quizzing
  • Educational rather than business metaphor

Session Administration should:

  • Be web based
  • Handle authentication (If not single sign on to WebCT, then preferably tied to an LDAP or Active Directory server.)
  • Handle room reservations and set up instantaneously, by the users (students and faculty alike) and without administrator involvement in most cases.
  • Allow for multiple virtual rooms at the same time, so long as the collective consecutive users is under the cap
  • Record usage (by individual, time, course, etc.), available to administrator

Recordings should:

  • Allow the viewer to control playback, preferably by slide
  • Show all interaction
  • Allow access to links and files

Whiteboard should

  • Have full featured drawing and image import capability
  • Allow annotations on the slides by all participants
  • Be savable

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