You will know that Elluminate and Wimba were both taken over by BlackBoard earlier this year, and merged into a new concern called BlackBoard Collaborate.
At an online webinar yesterday, the plans for the new company were outlined. A total of 236 people attended the session, which used Elluminate as its platform.
It very quickly became clear that Elluminate was the senior partner in the merger. It had always been the larger company, and it was obvious that the new joint product (codenamed ‘Gemini’) would be based on Elluminate Live!, not Wimba Classroom.
Work has already begun on Gemini, which seeks to merge the capabilities of Elluminate Live!, Wimba Classroom and Wimba Pronto into one product by the end of 2012. The new product will be a free upgrade to all existing customers, and would be both “browser-based” and “Java-based”. Support for Wimba Classroom will cease in 2013.
- All existing VLEs with integrations to either Elluminate or Wimba would continue to be supported.
- Video quality would be improved using Wimba’s technology, but retaining Elluminate’s low-bandwidth capability.
- Echo cancellation would be improved to support sessions with both local and remote participants
- By summer 2011 the Gemini phase 1 product will be available to Elluminate users, incorporating some (configurable) improvements to the user interface.
- By summer 2012 Gemini phase 2 will include Wimba features: a content repository allowing session resources like whiteboards to be stored, shared and re-used, and also archive movies of sessions will be available in .mp4 files.
- By the end of 2012 Gemini will support mobile devices in the iPad/Android class.
- Gemini will continue to use the SAS server system, Plan! and Publish! as currently used by Elluminate, but will be hosted in several locations (sounds like Wimba’s UK servers will become Gemini servers)
From our point of view, changes will be minimal, since we already use Elluminate Live!. We will simply get an improved and expanded system. There was no word in pricing other than that Gemini will be a free upgrade for existing users.