Tuesday, December 04, 2007

All Levels: Elluminate Live

see article in TechLearning (Nov. 15, 2007) for an example of how this was used at a conference and other info: http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=196604804

also the Elluminate website: http://www.elluminate.com/

This is actually software, and sells for about $36. per seat. What it does is create a real-time online session that does not differentiate between operating systems, ability or available bandwidth. It can integrate with other tools such as Blackboard, Moodle and WebCT. There is a two-way video component that allows both moderators and participants to project video images that look nothing like the old 'lips moving, sounds not matching' issues of the past. Participants can take notes in a separate window during a live session, and save or share. Notes can also be edited while in review mode. Includes multiple streams of closed-captioning, auditory event notification, shortcut keys and screen reader access. There are also tools such as Breakout Rooms to allow for small group discussion within the context of a large meeting.

I've seen various iterations of this type of software, and some of it is freeware. The cost per seat is expensive, but in an online classroom environment is not outrageous. The interactivity with other tools (WebCT, Blackboard etc.) may appeal to instructors already familiar with those products, and those whose curriculum is already developed under those tools. You'll need Windows 2000 and higher (thorigh Vista), with a minimum 500 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM, and also works in a Mac OS (10.2 and higher), G3-G5 with at least 256 MB RAM. That may be problematic for the average online classroom that has a wider variety of OS and RAM, but in more controlled environments (such as courses that require or provide specific computers), labs etc. it can be quite effective. This would likely require an academic system buy-in.

Middle School to PhD: Study Curve

http://studycurve.com/ Study Curve

This is an interesting mix of a social networking environment, expert assistance, tutorials, and subject area focus. It targets middle school through PhD, and puts users together with similarly-minded individuals for ongoing help and collaboration. There is also an Expert Rating System, virtual study groups, and the pairing of business professionals and college professors with students. You can also host a private class forum, posting Q & As and locating classes across the country for collaborative projects. There is also a team that controls all content, display and distribution on the site.
For students used to sites like Facebook, finding a study buddy seems a good way to expand their technological expertise, and assist with coursework as well. Once again, it's a good example of how the process of education is changing, and how the emphasis is changing from straight research and design to collaboration. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

Also added to the 'Tech Tools Recommended' list on this Blog