Elluminating

I mentioned a while back that I will be presenting at an online workshop for RSC Eastern on Web 2.0. Bookings for the event have now opened and places are limited so if you are interested please register.

In preparation I had my first go at Elluminate Live on Friday. Elluminate is a real-time virtual classroom environment designed for distance education and collaboration in academic institutions and corporate training.

So here are my initial thoughts…

Speed

It’s a Java application and I was a little worried that it would be slow and clunky, especially as I tuned in using my home Broadband connection, but it wasn’t. There were a few moments when people lost connection but given that we met for almost an hour it did pretty well. There was a little time lag when I spoke and did certain things but it’s just a case of taking it slowly and checking people are with you. (A better explanation of how exactly Elluminate works is available.)

Ease of Use

Elluminate Desktop

Elluminate Desktop

It was actually really easy and intuitive to use and pretty good fun. The main areas I tried out are the chat facility, uploading ppts, the whiteboard and presenting web tours. We also had a go at sharing your desktop, though it’s unlikely I’d have to do this at the event. I didn’t get to try out the Webcam, it can be a real bandwidth hog though so probably best to avoid for a big group.

I was logged in as a moderator. Our set-up meant that participants used the chat facility most of the time but could select the microphone if they wanted. I think you can restrict use of the microphone – having too many people talk would get confusing. One suggestion was that I set up my laptop too and log in as a participant. This will allow me to see what everyone else is seeing too.

Overall

I really enjoyed the session. I think as long as people accept that it is still a pretty new way to do things and technologies can need a little bit of tweaking and time, then it can be an invaluable tool.

It is possible for the whole of the event to be recorded and shared which is really useful too. For example here is a recent event presented by Ross Gardner from OSS Watch on what open source software is. (Note this links to an actual Elluimate and you will need to download a JNLP file).

I’ll post more on Elluminate after I’ve had another go but for now, to be honest, the only complaint I had was that my headphones made my ears hurt!

Make Way for Webinars

I’ve been invited to present at an online event for JISC Regional Support Centre Eastern.
The webinar will be on Web 2.0 and will run in February, I’ll keep you posted on times and dates.

For those who haven’t heard this term before Wikipedia describes a webinar as:

..a neologism to describe a specific type of web conference. It is typically one-way,from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction, such as in a webcast. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question & answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. In some cases, the presenter may speak over a standard telephone line, pointing out information being presented on screen and the audience can respond over their own telephones, preferably a speaker phone. There are web conferencing technologies on the market that have incorporated the use of VoIP audio technology, to allow for a truly web-based communication. Webinars may (depending upon the provider) provide hidden or anonymous participant functionality, enabling participants to be unaware of other participants in the same meeting.

Although I touched on the area of Virtual Meetings and Conferences in my Ariadne article (Staying Connected: Technologies Supporting Remote Workers) this will be my first online presentation! Naturally delivery of workshops or lectures over the Web has great potential for remote workers so I’m really happy to be involved.

The JISC Regional Support Centres have given a number of webinars in the past and two are discussed on the Intute blog as part of their webinar trials.

They list some of the pros and cons of hosting an online event. It seems the events went well but Emma Place and the Intute team conclude that they need to “work on their online presentation skills and develop sessions that are more suited to the medium“. This is something that I am very conscious of and I hope to do a few practice runs before the big day.

The Intute post also briefly mentions the technologies used for the webinars (Gotomeeting and DimDim). The RSC Eastern event will use Elluminate). I intend to write a future post on different software in this area when I’ve a little more experience.