Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Does Adobe Connect Connect in Class?

Well, I held my first class using Adobe Connect this evening. It was a pretty good experience. We were able to gather 13 of use with cameras and a couple that only had an audio connection with the gang. The interactive quality was OK. We had about a 2 second delay between what we said and when everyone else heard it. Admittedly this may have been a stretch on the throughput from house to house throughout Iowa, but it was a bit aggravating at times.

We began the session by giving each student audio and video access and having them figure out how to connect their camera and mic and brain at the same time.  They had to remember to press the little Talk button in the lower left corner.

The question is will Adobe Connect replace the Iowa Communications Network which is the face-to-face video conferencing system that I have been teaching on for the past 16 years?

Adobe Connect has some advantages:
  • Students can connect from their homes.
  • All of the students can be available at once (assuming that you have the bandwidth).
  • The recordings are automatically digital and immediately available.
  • By definition, all of the students will have internet access so we won't have to worry about sites where the schools have locked up the internet access or the sites we want to use are blocked.
  • While the ICN has its flaws; when it worked - it worked well and there was a good connection between sites.
  • Access is not dependent upon the school's custodian to open the door.
  • The cost is almost free.
Adobe Connect has some disadvantages compared with the ICN:
  • Students who shared sites with other people often developed a collegial atmosphere.
  • All students are geographically alone.
  • The audio and video seemed sporatic.
  • Adobe Connect was a bit clumsy and not intuitive in many of the actions I had to take to make the connections and interactions.
 I have a long way to go to master using Adobe Connect in my classes.  I like how I can have set up an ongoing meeting where we can always at the spur of the moment.  I still don't think that Adobe Connect is easy enough for the typical teacher to feel comfortable.  It can be learned but there are a number of things that can be done to make it easier to use.

I hope that Adobe finds this posting and asks me for some suggestions about how to improve their interface.  I think that I would like to have such a tool available for my students to use to communicate with one another as well as with me.  I think that it can be an empowering tool, but it has a ways to go.

What do you think?  What are your experiences?

Z

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5 comments:

  1. Dr.Z,I think it is better than the ICN, maybe since its fairly new there are kinks to be worked out?? Otherwise, I loved getting to know my new cohorts last night! (I blogged about it on my blog-Schaa Spills Ink on blogger.com!!!!!!!!!!!

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  2. I don't see Adobe Connect taking the place of the ICN. I see Adobe Connect as an additional engaging tool that can enhance a variety of synchronous and asynchronous learning environments. When I was a professor at Minnesota State, I used Adobe Connect often with our masters students and sessions were quite engaging. Now in Richland School District Two, I have used Adobe Connect to deliver technology professional development to school-level Instructional Technology Specialists (ITS) both on an individual or small group basis. This is appealing to ITS because they don't have to leave their schools in case they have to attend to other unexpected activities. It does take some practice because you are now trying to manage the virtual meeting with all the options, but, at the same time deliver a productive meeting with your students/audience. Having used Adobe Connect (even when it was Macromedia Breeze) for the past several years now, here are some general considerations.

    --For large groups, consider an "audio only" web session. If you have too many participants with web cameras, you begin to encounter technical problems such as very delayed and choppy video due to bandwidth even if everyone has high-speed Internet access. In most cases, the host (and 1 or 2 presenters) should have web cameras running simultaneously.

    --You can create customized layouts of your pods that you see fit when meeting with your students. Here's a short handout I came across on the web on creating custom layouts (http://www.cwu.edu/~media/cwuconnect/ConnectLayouts.pdf).

    --Make sure students go through the Audio Wizard to configure their headsets. I tell individuals that headsets are the best option for audio input/output. I have found using speakers and a separate desktop microphone is a problem with echos (audio feedback).

    --Inform students on how to gain your attention if they have a question (i.e. Raise Hands and the Q&A pod).

    --Record the meeting for participants who were unable to attend the virtual meeting. Adobe Connect creates a Flash file recording that allows users to not view the meeting, but can also view/scroll on the Attendee List, download files posted to the File Share pod, access links that you may have posted on the Link pod, etc.

    These are just some of my thoughts on using Adobe Connect. I hope this helps.

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  3. debbrux9:20 PM

    When high-speed Internet enabling high quality audio and video is ubiquitous in Iowa, I think virtual classrooms such as Adobe Connect will replace the ICN. I've used Elluminate (http://www.elluminate.com) a couple of times, and a teacher can even deploy quizzes in real time during a session. There is definitely a learning curve, but once you get the hang of conducting a class session that way it has the potential to eclipse proprietary videoconferencing systems such as the ICN.

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  4. I have to admit, I liked it MUCH better than the chat function. I am mad that I couldn't get my web cam to function (I know how you would all love to see my face at 9 PM on a Monday after teaching all day and then watching a track meet:) I definitely like it just as much as the ICN, and it lets us learn at home. I say, let's keep trying it. CathyO

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  5. Hello, I think think that your article is very interesting. i'm working in an assignment about the integration of technology tools in education. Can use information from your article in my homework? Please let me know.
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