MITC 2010: Technology Wrecking Ball

Presenter: Bob Deneau

Bob presented on three technologies that he is using in his district: Adobe Connect Pro, Skype, and Microsoft SharePoint. EdTech has some familiarity with all three of these technologies, though I am only personally familiar with Adobe Connect and SharePoint. I’ve never used Skype, though several other members of our group have used it extensively.

Adobe Connect Pro is a web-based video-conferencing solution. All it really requires is a web-camera and a microphone (or a telephone as there is a call-in number you can use). It is very easy to use and can support several different points. There is a free version that can support up to three different participants, while the Pro version cab support considerable more participants. It also allows you to share your desktop or use an electronic whiteboard to collaborate with the participants. Similar products include WebEx (used by our Video Communications Center to support distance learning), Wimba Live Classroom (available inside of Blackboard), and Elluminate.

Skype is a web-based phone program that allows you to make Skype-to-Skype calls for free (it just takes up some of your available bandwidth). Bob gave some examples of how Skype is being used in the classroom, at least for K-12 schools. One option that may be useful on our campus is to bring in virtual experts in the field into the classroom. In other words, people in industry may not have the time to visit the campus to tell the students what engineering is like, but it should be relatively trivial to use Skype to connect them to the classroom.

Finally, Bob’s school district is using SharePoint as their web portal platform of choice. The teachers in his district have quite a variety of tools as their disposal (blogs, wikis, documents, and more) and can restrict access to content in a wide variety of ways. They are somewhat limited in their templates (most likely a policy issue rather than a technical issue–K-12 schools tend to limit what teachers are able to do, as far as I can tell).

S&T currently uses Documentum for official campus web sites, but we are exploring other options. Individual instructors and students alike can also use the campus Google Sites to create their own web sites for projects and courses. However, Google Sites does NOT have any sort of Assignment/Grade Center functions, so evaluating student projects in Google Sites will still most likely need to integrate some sort of Blackboard functionality. EdTech can certainly help instructors decide how best to use the available resources on our campus.

Bob’s web site can be found at: