Web conferencing update
As part of the current round of Distance Learning Fund projects (about which more in due course), we’re been looking over the last few weeks at which web conferencing tool best suits our needs in supporting teaching and learning at Loughborough. The 15-strong longlist of contenders included several tools which are already used by different departments – Elluminate (MEC), AT&T Connect (CREST), and DimDim (Library / E-learning Team).
If you’re not familiar with web conferencing, it might be described as video conferencing over the Web, allowing dozens of people to interact in a virtual meeting room or classroom via a combination of webcams and text chat. Most systems also allow for the sharing of documents, polling of participants, and even sharing of the presenter’s desktop. Participants can each be in any location around the world with reliable Internet access, although scheduling of sessions can be challenging where participants live in timezones many hours apart.
There is huge potential for further exploitation of these tools in support of distance learning, and this is an area in which Richard Blanchard and CREST colleagues have been built up significant experience over the last few years.
In selecting a tool to take forward, we’re taking into account a variety of factors, from education-specific features such as breakout rooms (lacking in some of the more business-orientated tools) to cost, reliability, ease-of-setup and use, and whether the tool can technically be integrated into Moodle / Learn.
The final shortlist comprises Elluminate, Wimba Classroom and Adobe Connect Pro. Bryan Dawson, who has been leading this mini-project, is currently arranging trial sessions with each of the tools, and if you’re interested in experiencing them for yourself, or in passing on any particular needs you may have, do get in touch with him or with me.