Monday, August 8, 2011

On a continuing Journey

  So I thought when I started to investigate this topic area, there wouldn't be all that much out there.  HA HA HA - so wrong!  My overall list of info.:     
  • most of the sites have subscription fees but not all
  • about half of the sites encourage you to check international connections as some countries do not allow their product to be accessed by their population
  • there are not a lot of primary examples out there to browse and learn form, outside of having to subscribe to some sites
  • all sites have testimonials of how great their products are, but the testimonials do not go through the projects they do
  • more people are utilizing the free sites 
  • there are a lot of people in education and business utilizing the web to communicate locally, nationally, and internationally
  • more school districts are beginning to value the contributions technology can make to increase student learning and productivity
  • some of the sites are more intensive and would take longer to learn how to utilize them effectively
  • all technology can have complications that would need you to be flexible and have back up strategies in place
  • time zone differences could limit areas of projects, but can be worked around
There will always be updates and new programming invented.  This will never be a fossilized field.  Educators will need to adapt and 'update' their knowledge and skills to guide their students in this ever changing world to explore every new horizon open to them.


Post #13
“Moving well beyond web conferencing technology, our comprehensive, easy-to-use, and proven solutions improve student engagement and support critical business initiatives with time and cost-saving efficiencies.

The most powerful elements of in-person or face-to-face interaction – facial expressions, vocal intonations, visual cues, real-time discussion, creativity and passion – can be harnessed, enhanced and conveyed in the online environment to learn, meet, and work together effectively.

Focused exclusively on education, Wimba’s software and services are used by teachers, students, and administrators at schools and universities around the world

The Wimba Collaboration Suite™ —awarded the 2009 “Best Education Solution” CODiE award by SIIA— offers students, teachers, and administrators an engaging and comprehensive collaboration environment for dynamic instruction, efficient meetings, and effective delivery of academic and administrative help.

Wimba Classroom™ A live, virtual learning environment that includes audio, video, application sharing and content display used for formal, scheduled instruction and meetings.

Wimba Pronto™ An instant collaboration system designed to promote learning through group work and academic and administrative help.

Wimba Voice™ An audio solution for anytime vocal instruction, practice, collaboration, coaching and assessment, especially in language learning.
    I thought I would take up your question Rick and see if I could find exactly what Wimba added to Blackboard collaborate (formerly Elluminate).  Guess what – not really easy to do.  Most of Wimba’s home page talks about it being Blackboard collaborate.  Going through what the company offers was almost like reading through Blackboard collaborate again.  One frustrating aspect of trying to navigate Wimba’s site was that the links didn’t work well, with a lot of the pages not displaying if you clicked on them.  I had to log into each area to be able to open the pages up and even then some weren’t available.  So in the end Rick, I can’t tell you how the combo that is now Blackboard collaborate is enhanced in any way!? I wonder if the Blackboard collaborate is just an enhanced Elluminate with a better server base and more power?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Microsoft Office 365

What is Office 365?
·         Microsoft office collaborates tools delivered through the cloud
·         Access from anywhere to:  gmail, web conferencing, documents and calendars
·         Business class security
·         Backed by Microsoft
How it works
Ø  Microsoft manages the IT software and you control the user access rights
Ø  Licenced on a flexible per-user, per-month subscription cost
Ø  Provides cloud-based management tools in a single location

Office Professional Plus 
  • Control your inbox with Conversation View; schedule meetings more efficiently by viewing calendar availability for colleagues in other companies as well as your own co-workers in Microsoft Outlook
  • Outlook Social Connector to better leverage the power of business and social networks
  • Collaborate  with real-time co-editing
  • Microsoft PowerPoint Broadcast Slide Show shares slideshows instantly around the world
  • Work virtually any place and on any device with Office Web Apps
Ø  Other services include:  Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Office Web Apps
Ø  NOTE:  Office Professional Plus appears to be the service that is listed most consistently in each of the available plans.

Professional and Small Business
  • For up to 25 employees
  • A solution without dedicated IT staff
  • Essential email, calendar and website services
  • Free online community support
< $6 per user per month
Midsize Business and Enterprises
  • For any size business
  • Advanced IT configuration and control
  • Office Professional Plus, Active Directory or advanced archiving
  • 27x7 IT Administrator support
  • Choice between monthly and annual contracts
  • Plans for academic and education institutions
  • Delivers the power of cloud productivity to educational institutions of all sizes
  • Would have to try the E trial for midsize businesses and enterprises (there is no specific Office 365 for education trial)
  • Combine the familiar Office desktop suite with online versions of Microsoft’s next-generation communications and collaboration services.
  • Simple to use and easy to administer – all backed by the security and guaranteed reliability you expect from Microsoft

Blackboard collaborate

Post #11
Formerly Elluminate…      now Blackboard collaborate
·         Combination of Wimba and Elluminate
·         Provides a comprehensive learning platform
·         Designed specifically for education
·         Real time or any time
-          Helping create virtual classrooms, offices and meeting spaces
-          Offers new approaches to peer-to-peer learning and instructor led help
Blackboard offers:
Ø  Blackboard learn
Ø  Blackboard collaborate
Ø  Blackboard connect
Ø  Blackboard transact
Ø  Blackboard analytics
Ø  Blackboard mobile
Web conferencing

             < For those who are blind or have low vision:

< For those who have learning disabilities:

< Features:
  • Enhanced audio with increased clarity and reduced latency
  • Ability to optimize audio for headset or room microphone
  • Higher frame rates, reduced bandwidth
  • Expanded Windows Media Video (WMV) file support for multimedia playback
  • Refreshed user interface
  • Easier more natural communication
  • Smoother video motion and near lip sync with audio with high-speed connections
  • Easily incorporate wider variety of content
  • Modernized icons and more intuitive placement of polling response options
·         Presence and instant messaging to find others and interact on demand
·         Desktop video conferencing and VoIP audio for cost-effective meetings
·         LMS and flat-file integration for complete directory of teachers, students, and classes
·         Convenient, ad hoc network invitations and broadcast notifications
·         Whiteboard with built-in learning objects and templates
·         Application sharing and queued chat for tutoring and online office hours
·         Instant access to campus services and instant school-wide notifications
·         Universal accessibility and advanced privacy features

Voice Authoring 
Voice Presentation: Add web content alongside vocal messages.
Voice Board: Post and listen to voice messages within discussion boards.
Voice Podcaster: Create or upload podcasts for user subscription.
Voice Email: Send and listen to voice through email messages.
Voice Recording: Record and listen to voice on a web page.
Integrated Gradebook: Automatically update CMS gradebooks with voice board assessments.

·          Blackboard Collaborate™ Enterprise Licensing offers unlimited learning with management control
·         You can easily expand your use and get unlimited learning enterprise-wide for one flat fee—without the hassle of large upfront expenditures, usage predictions, seat restrictions, or overage charges.
·          Single-room solution that fits your needs and your budget. It’s a great way to begin using our educational collaboration platform.
·         30 day free trial offer

I've found Blackboard collaborate easy enough to navigate in my university classes.  I would like to see a few examples of it being used with younger children (grades 1 - 4).  Unfortunately I haven't found such examples as of yet.  I think this a resource that would be better to have a staff buy in instead of an individual.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Post #10
What is Ustream?
~ A website that is made up of a network of diverse channels providing a platform for lifecasting and live video streaming of events online.
~ Established in March 2007, the site has over 2,000,000 registered users who generate 1,500,000+ hours of live streamed content per month with over ten million unique hits per month.
~ It received $11.1 million in Series A funding for new product development from DCM and investors Labrador Ventures and Band of Angels.

How does it work?
·         Ustream allows users to broadcast from the Web site once logged in or from a mobile device using Ustream's mobile broadcasting application.
·          Users can watch streams live on the Web site and on the Ustream iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7 applications.
·         The Web site allows users to interact, such as vote in polls, rate, chat, and so on.
·         The iPhone and Android applications allows users to watch and chat.

-           Ustream's basic service is still free and supported by advertising revenue, Ustream started to offer Watershed, a pay-as-you-go version of their service.
-           Watershed customers pay per viewing hour, charging from $0.25 to $1 per viewer.
-           Watershed users don't have to display Ustream's advertisements and logos and can provide their own instead.

What do I think?
~ It’s open to anyone to watch, which means there is really no privacy.  This would be a concern; I’m sure, with parents if it were used for a live broadcast from a classroom.  Most parents do not want their children’s image on the open net.
~ It would be great to use to watch sites like a rocket launch or other equally intriguing phenomena.
~ You would continuously be checking the site to see what’s going on – kinda time consuming.
~ It has its usefulness and place, but I am leery to use it as a connection to another class, it would definitely be a resource only for me.

Post #9
What are Gizmos?
  • Math and science interactive, online simulations
  • Grades 3 – 12
  • Fun, easy to use
  • Help develop a deep understanding of concepts through inquiry and exploration
  • Research-based, flexible tools
  • Good for small group, individual exploration, or whole class instruction using a LCD projector or interactive white board
  • Correlated to over 200 textbooks
  • Over 450 Gizmos are available online
  • You need to contact them about fees
  • Offer a 30 day free trial 

Professional Development and Training
~ Different levels of training from beginner to building a customized program with ExploreLearning assisting you
~ Online training or on-site
-          On-site:  trainer spends 6 hours training staff at you facility (I wonder about cost?)
-          Online:  8 – 12 hours over 3 weeks (No mention about cost for this one either.)

Why do Gizmos work?
The site has a list of research articles, published in a variety of journals, to support the increased success students experience when working with interactive, virtual simulations.

There are a variety of Gizmo teaching lessons you can watch, this link is to one on plant growth.

~ How to manage, adjust and troubleshoot your account
~ Area for students
~ Community sharing features to share your work with other account holders
~ Finding and using Gizmos

MY thoughts ~ this site has some amazing gizmos that would definitely aid student understanding, especially in areas of math and science.  Math and science are typically two subject areas that are more difficult for students to achieve high understanding in an enjoyable manner.  They have too many concepts that are abstract and difficult for students to envision.
My concern about this site is what they don’t tell you.  If you have to contact them about fees, how affordable is it?  The training programs don’t appear to be ‘a walk in the park’ either.  I’m thinking that this site is for the highly committed school/school district.  I don’t think it would be cost effective unless your whole staff bought into using it.
I know this site isn't along the same lines as all of my other posts, but I was intrigued by it and it was mentioned in a number of other sites I visited.  I just had to check it out.


Post # 8
~ Group conversations are collected and shared in one place from anywhere in the world.
~ No software to install.
~ is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos
~ allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways
- using voice (with a mic or telephone)
-  text
-  audio file
-  video (via a webcam)
- share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to
record comments too
Users can doodle while commenting, use multiple identities, and pick which comments are shown through moderation. VoiceThreads can even be embedded to show and receive comments on other websites and exported to MP3 players or DVDs to play as archival movies.

Subscription Fees for different levels of use:
Single or Class Subscription:
~ allows you to give your Students their own account within a secure collaborative network, Ed.VoiceThread
$60.00/year or $10.00/month
            Subscription includes:
* 100 Student accounts (add more at any time for $1 each)
* Create Student usernames (email address not required)
* Automatically be made a co-editor of Student work
* Admin tool to manage Student account and create Classes
* Custom web address to easily share public VoiceThreads
A school subscription is based on the educator/student enrolment number for your school.  When I tried a few calculations with numbers it always works out to $1.00/person (student or educator).  There is no option of a monthly rate.  The options are similar for the school as an individual class.
The third educational offer is for a school district licence.  You need to contact VoiceThread in order to receive a cost quote.  The district licence does have a few options that are different from the Single/Class and School subscriptions.

 VoiceThread offers a unique way to share information.  I think this would work well with classrooms that are more technologically inclined, at least their teachers should be.  I don’t find it to be as easy to use as some of the other options I’ve discovered, but I think it is worth checking out.  I like the single class option of year or monthly rate.  If anyone has used this site before please let me know.  Thanks!
This is a cool info video: