Adobe Connect for Videoconferencing and Recording Teaching Sessions

connectI have recently used Adobe Connect in a variety of ways to help lecturers record teaching sessions and give their students opportunities to meet and talk to key figures in the industries they are training in. Connect is a videoconferencing platform which allows people to communicate online by watching and listening to each other via webcam, and sharing documents or their computer screen with each other. Participants can also use chat functions to send messages, and answer questions in polls. No software is needed, as everything is done via a webpage. At City, our licence for Connect means that any member of staff can log on to talk.city.ac.uk and set up an online meeting room.

My first use of Connect to support teaching and learning was last summer, before the exams period, when a key revision session for the first year undergraduate Sociology students needed to be recorded. A number of students could not attend because they were out of the country. Instead of simply recording the session and giving students access to this via Moodle, we live streamed the class using Connect and over 20 students joined in from several different countries (around 50 students were present in the “real” class). While the lecturer took questions from the students who attended in person, I hosted the online meeting room online and participants used the chat function to ask questions which I relayed to the lecturer (although it’s simple enough for one person to host an online meeting and lead the session at the same time). We got some really great feedback from students during this session. Those watching from home were impressed that we’d gone to the trouble of letting them join the meeting live rather than having to watch a recording.

JOM834 Adobe Connect JOM952 Adobe Connect

Last term, a number of lecturers, particularly in Journalism, organised press conferences during which their students have an opportunity to talk to and question key figures from industry. While a web-based Voice over IP (VoIP) service like Skype could also be used for this, Connect also allows computer screen and document sharing. Sessions can also be easily recorded and stored on the Adobe Connect server, so that students can watch them again later. Access to recordings can be controlled quite closely.

We’ve also used Adobe Connect’s screen-sharing function, combined with the recording function, as an alternative to lecture capture in rooms which aren’t currently equipped with recording hardware, but where a need for specialist software means we can’t use our Personal Capture laptop kits. Connect doesn’t do a perfect job of lecture capture, because the online meeting room and recording have to be set up each time it’s used, and recordings must be retrieved from the system and posted on Moodle manually. Further, the recordings are not perfect quality and since they are Flash they won’t play back on all devices. However, by setting up a meeting room, connecting a microphone (and/or webcam) and recording the meeting, we have the ability to record a teaching session anywhere in the university. For this purpose, no-one else joins the meeting room; we simply record the session and share the desktop of the computer, which means that whatever the lecturer shows on the computer screen will be recorded along with their voice. The recording can either be downloaded as a stand-alone flash video file or linked to on Moodle.

Case study – creating presentations using prezi instead of powerpoint

Professor Suzanne Franks presenting at the symposium

Professor Suzanne Franks, Head of Undergraduate Journalism at City University London, wanted a more innovative way to present at the International Symposium on “China as a Development Aid Actor: Rethinking Development Assistance and its Implications for Africa and the West”  hosted by the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford. We discussed the options and she decided to try to use prezi.com. Prezi is an online, cloud-based tool for creating presentations, exploring ideas and storytelling. Prezis can be played on a computer with internet access, downloaded for playing offline or played on an ipad by downloading a free app.

Professor Franks’ presentation was about the influence of China in Africa, particular in the media and media training. She decided she wanted to use images with no words and wanted to position the images/photos in the correct part of the country. She also used a map of Africa overlaid with the flag of the People’s Republic of China. You can see an image of this to the left (see the full prezi here).

Prezi is a really innovative presentation tool that can be used in many different ways. Here are some reasons to try prezi

1. Prezi moves slickly between images, graphics, text, video and audio so is very flexible

2. A prezi can be linear but is best utilised to introduce concepts or projects

3. Prezi allows you to zoom in and out of a bigger picture

4. Prezi is free for educators to use, just sign up with your university email account

I recommend that you take a look at their popular and award winning prezi presentations to give you an idea of how versatile the tool is and this blog post for tutorial videos

A Case Study: Online Marking in Moodle

James Anslow is a lecturer in the Department of Journalism at City University London. He was formerly Chief Production Editor at The Sun and The News of the World and runs the blog eJournalism UK.

He runs the undergraduate module on Editorial Production which introduces students to sub-editing, layout for print and web, script writing, copy writing and programme making. In this case study, he talks about his use of Moodle to mark scripts and design files online. James uses Moodle and the Turnitin plugin to mark hundreds of pieces of work a term.