Sunday, April 29, 2007

** Flashmeeting - Great for videoconferencing?**

Since my post on March 3rd, I had been keen to explore the benefits of using Flashmeeting over Skype, which has become the normal method of VOIP conversations recently. I arranged in advance to have an hour long discussion with Allanah King ( Nelson, New Zealand) and Jane Nicholls ( e-fellow - Dunedin, New Zealand). Thanks to a friend Stuart Brown at the Open University, much involved in the award winning UO OpenLearn Project

"I just wanted to share the great news that OpenLearn has won the IMS Global Learning Consortiums' top prize this year!!

Full press release below:

Vancouver, British Columbia – 19 April 2007 – The IMS Global Learning Consortium (IMS GLC) today announced the results of the final rankings in the first global competition of high impact use of technology in learning. Featuring the highest levels of innovation, adoption, and learning impact, the Learning Impact Awards (aka LIAs) symbolize the use of technology for support or enhancement of learning. A set of twenty-five finalists, from nominations submitted from around the world, were invited to the Learning Impact conference in Vancouver to be judged by a set of six expert reviewers and combined voting from the attendees, which served as a seventh reviewer. Nominations with superior measurable impact on faculty/teacher adoption, student achievement, and ease of implementation earned the finalist slots. For more information on the expert panel of judges visit: http://www.imsglobal.org/learningimpact/agenda.html#experts. The 210 conference participants were roughly split three ways among executive leaders in the education markets worldwide, chief technologists from organizations providing advances in learning technology, and information or academic technology leaders responsible for implementing, using, and selecting technology to support or enhance learning. For more information on the Learning Impact conference of which the LIA awards are a part, see http://www.imsglobal.org/learningimpact/agenda.html.

The LIA awards are also unique in that they recognize the use of technology in context. Nominations include not only information about the technology, but how it is used by an educational or training organization. The 2007 award winners are as follows:

Platinum Awards (top three rankings):

OpenLearn at the Open University, United Kingdom (supported by Moodle)
ETS Criterion Online Writing Evaluation service at Farragut High School, Knox County Public Schools
Cyber Home Learning System of Korea
Gold Awards:

HarvestRoad Hive & the Resource List Management System at the University of Western Australia
California State University Fresno Fast Forward Program
European eTwinning Action by European Schoolnet
Silver Awards:

Using Giunti Labs learn eXact LCMS at the UK NHS and Royal College of Radiologists R-ITI Project
Microsoft Research ConferenceXP at Australian School of the Air and Classroom Presenter at University of Washington
Respondus 3.5 and University of Alberta
Bronze Awards:

Tegrity Campus 2.0 at Saint Mary's University
Articulate at Jefferson County Public Schools
Wimba’s Course Genie: An Authoring Tool for Common Cartridge at Langside College
Honorable mentions:

eCollege Program Intelligence Manager at Iowa Community College Online Consortium
Desire2Learn at Office of Open Learning, University of Guelph
Microsoft Learning Gateway at Shireland Language College
BlueStream Digital Asset Management System At The University Of Michigan (supported by Ancept and IBM)
ANGEL at Penn State
UGO Online Academic Resource Management system at the University of Montreal (supported by Logiweb)
A study on how to enhance support for the Cyber Home Learning System by Korea Education & Research Information Service
Meeting the Needs of a Global Student Body with Jenzabar at Park University
Microsoft Partners in Learning at Ministry of Education, Thailand"
Well done to Stuart and the OpenLearn team... anyhow I have drifted from the point, Stuart was able to point me to the correct person at the Open University who could give me Booking Rights on Flashmeeting. I set up a 4 person (25 is the max)meeting for a 60 minute session. The resulting video conference is available here
It was a good exercise as I had taken part as a participant in one of Joe Dale's ( Joe has just held a VideoConference between his school and Sylvia Tolisano in Florida) recent Flashmeeting sessions, so was a relative novice while my 2 colleagues were completely new to the whole thing.
Once we had got used to the whole turn taking thing and the small details such as remembering to leave the mic open for a few seconds after you have spoken in order to avoid cropping the end of your speech, it worked very well ( I had a problem at the time in that my MacBook seemed dis-inclined to hook up the built in camera to Flashmeeting so I had to rig up a dv camera - this has been sorted out through reading the guides and downloading a small software update from Adobe).
You use a closed room where guests are invited to join (25 attendees limit seems plenty), there are a variety of additional tools which appear as tabs - these include:
* a list of those in conference.
*a chat area page.
*url exchange page.
* an image page where you can see your colleagues.
It operates on a hand up system where you signal that you would like to speak and you are put in a queue. The meeting times down at the top left and gives you audio warnings as you approach the time limit of you conference. Audio seems to be subject to similar fade in and out as Skype.
The Verdict
All of us who took part in the session found it to be a useful looking option holding out the possibility of having visual contact with colleagues in a conference which is not available using Skype, while having many of the extras which Skype also has. Plus some extras that you might expect from an academic institution - great stats on the conference ( check them out if you have the chance to have a look at our videoconference) I suggest a definite 8.5 out of 10 if not more, I think time and more use will see this rating rise.

** I know that the people who have developed Flashmeeting are very keen on its development internationally contact me and I will give you Jeff Howson's (E2BN)e-mail address.

1 comment:

Allanah said...

That's a worry- I didn't realise we were actually recording! I hope I didn't say anything untoward!

I was most impressed with Flashmeeting and would rate it even higher and am looking forward to have more of a play with the tool soon.

Thanks for the help guys.

Allanah

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