Personal Note: My blogging will be taking a hit for the next month or so, as I'm teaching an online course on Moodle, Adobe Connect Pro, and also Personal Learning Networks, and then will be hitting the lakes of Minnesota (my kids have challenged me to a fish-off).
Something most educators are not aware of is that the AEAs have been busy developing their long distance learning options. What once was only the ICN has expanded to include Moodle, Polycom, and most recently Adobe Connect Pro (formerly Macromedia Breeze).
Adobe Connect Pro is a synchronous e-learning tool, basically a virtual meeting room that can be a webinar, videoconferencing, e-whiteboard, remote-control screen sharing, or recording for on-demand content. And, we are excited about the possibilities. Not just in terms of online course, but the use of Connect Pro to offer remote help for districts using our Heart database, and also using it as a chance for online communities to gather.
Adobe Connect Pro features many different windows, which they call "pods" (as you can see in the screenshot). Like many other online virtual meeting tools, it has a place for attendees to participate and change status. It also features the ability to share powerpoints, images, and flash movies, and to annotate all of those with its whiteboard tools. Screen sharing can be done by the host or the participants, and can be the whole desktop or restricted to specific windows or applications. Literally, a group around the world can sit and work on the same Excel spreadsheet together.
The program uses VoIP audio conferencing, which we have been very impressed with in our trials. They have the standard chat window and note pod, but also have a place to conduct polls for audience feedback, and windows to share weblinks and file documents that can be downloaded by the guests. And best of all, a session can be recorded for those that miss it. When a session is recorded, all of the pods remain active for participants to manipulate when viewing. So a person who missed the session can still download the files and click on the websites.
Each AEA and the DE have purchased at least 5 licenses for meeting rooms that can hold up to at least 100 participants. To show you the interest your AEA has had with the product, I've met with the AEAs chief administrators, joint directors, and board secretaries about using the product (by the way, congratulations on the baby boy, Andy!), as well as several consultant groups at Heartland, and each group is very excited about the possibilites. And right now, Heartland is offering its first online class to train users how to use the program.
Look to see your AEA utilize the product to cut down on your district's mileage and offer more training, especially with the Iowa Core rollout coming next year.
Screenshot via Technology Teacher blog.