Tag Archives: Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect – audio update

Further to my earlier blog post regarding my Adobe Connect ‘live teaching’ experience, I wanted to provide an update re my live audio testing sessions. With the help of a test group, we had participants ‘tune in’ from the same building as I was broadcasting, other school sites within our Board network and a couple of off site connections. For all connection types, we were able to improve audio quality.

Before the scheduled session each participant looked after two tasks:

1. check that their flash player was up to date, and complete the update if required and
2. complete this Online Audio Test.

Listeners found the greatest audio clarity when I used the USB Yeti microphone, which I purchased at the Apple store.

We also experimented with web cam settings to determine impact on the audio. With only one camera active, the fast image and slow image settings worked well. The high quality camera setting reduced audio quality (slight choppiness) but not overly disruptive. With multiple cameras active, the slow image setting produced the best overall results.

The test results were validated across the 2 test sessions using different locations and equipment for each session. I feel confident we can proceed with online teaching and our Canada Connections project.

~ Mark

Adobe Connect Live

This week I tried my first ‘extended time’ online instructional session with a few administrators in our system using Adobe Connect.  The features of Adobe Connect all worked well in the live setting: status flags, chat window for comments and questions, the notes window for our agenda and screen sharing, which I used to project my browser window to remote users.

The feedback on the method of delivery was very positive. The challenge we experienced was the audio being somewhat choppy. This was not evident on my end as the extra ‘remote view’ computer I had set up to have an idea of what the participants were seeing and hearing yielded good results. Today I spent some time completing some research to learn more about how to improve this aspect of session delivery.  The results of my search provided some good insight into some things to experiment with.

I am going to hold a couple of live audio test session to experiment with mics and audio settings to see if I can make some improvements in the audio delivery.  I am experiementing with 4 different mic setups: a direct plug audio mic/headset, a Microsoft USB LifeChat LX3000 headset,  a USB Snowball and the USB Yeti microphone.  One recommendation was for a Shure 58 mic (requires a pre-amp before it can plug into a computer). I have the equipment to test this too, so may throw this option into the mix. I will share what I learn.

I found the following resources to be helpful:

Adobe Connect Resources
Microphone Options
Microphone Help
Connect 7 Audio Tips
Can they hear you now?
U. Dallas Resources
Penn State – Audio Tips
Online Audio Test

If you have tips to share on this topic, please leave a comment.

~ Mark

iPod Touch Classroom Project

Last Friday we  held the kickoff meeting for our iPods in the Classroom project.

iTouch

The meeting provided an opportunity to bring teachers, administrators and central staff together to talk about the purpose of the project, complete some initial training, look at logistics and set next steps and timelines in place. The purpose of this project is multifaceted. Our comprehensive approach will:

  • Investigate the impact on teaching preparation, roles and instruction in a setting where each student will have a wifi enabled mobile device
  • Use iPods as an integrated learning tool in alignment with our identified instructional strategies and high yield tools
  • Align the use of the mobile devices to technology integration frameworks including:
  • Infuse a Digital Citizenship component concerning appropriate use, expectations, responsibilities and security with an eye to aligning to our existing Acceptable Use Procedure
  • Learn about the logistics of using mobile devices: charging, syncing, content management, device reliability etc.
  • Look at the use related resources: video cables (iPod to TV/data projector), document cameras, listening centre hardware (linking and daisy chaining audio)
  • Support the professional learning with research based evidence of the impact on student engagement, learning improvement and student assessment

The selected schools will provide an opportunity to examine the use of the iPod in the following environments:

  • a technology focused JK-6 school
  • a JK-8 school with an emphasis on grades 6-8
  • a congregated enrichment class

The day provided a good opportunity to familiarize staff with the operation of the iPod Touch units and explore some of the potential applications to be used. Alignment with our Board’s key learning strategies and the technology frameworks will keep us away from using the ‘drill and kill’ style applications.

A highlight in the training was conferencing in an Apple Education Expert to instruct over our Adobe Connect web conferencing system, licensed for use in Ontario schools. We anticipate using the web conferencing throughout the project to facilitate sharing between teachers at the selected schools. I am hopeful we can establish a protocol to use the conferencing to facilitate viewing a live ‘model classroom’ environment once the appropriate understandings re privacy and protocols have been put in place.

It was a great day and we are excited to have this initiative moving forward. I will share what we learn in future blog posts.

~ Mark

Presenting on the Web – session 2

Further to my earlier post this week about my live web presenting session, we had additional successes with our Thursday night session with our computer contact group. What did we do differently?

1. I changed the setup in the presenting area in my office, which was the remote site.  We adjusted the lighting to make the room slightly darker and eliminated some backlight which caused a little glare in the first round.

2. I relocated my speaking notes from my desk to a raised vertical stand tucked in closely to my laptop to minimize my eye movement. The net effect allowed me to look more directly at the camera so the setup was more like a newscast arrangement.

3. In the meeting room end, we turned the MacBook laptop around so the web cam was facing the audience. This certainly gives you a better sense of connection with the audience as the presenter. We are able to do a better job adjusting the mic settings to allow me to hear questions from the audience more clearly.

All in all, a much better experience. The next meeting with this group is scheduled for February. At that time, we will offer a chance for some of the 100+  attendees over the two session to join us in an online meeting. If winter driving is a factor, we should have improved attendance with the online option – bonus!!!

~ Mark

Adobe Connect: Presenting Live on the Web

I have participated in many online meetings with audio and screen sharing of agendas etc. Yesterday I had a chance to do a presentation using Adobe Connect, a professional web conferencing solution with our elementary school computer contact team.  This product is licensed for use in Ontario publicly funded schools.

I was the remote presenter – but not too remote in this case, just tucked away in my office, although I could have been anywhere with a decent internet connection. I was viewed at the meeting on a projection screen via the client laptop and data projector setup in the meeting room. This seemed like a good test run environment as I could attend the meeting if we had any technical issues. I was really interested to reflect on 3 aspects of the live presentation.

Technical Reliability: Our technical set up worked very well overall – no major issues. On two occasions there was a brief pause in audio and video delivery. In my role as presenter, I was aware this was happening as the green bar which bounces to indicate the mic is active stopped moving, so I was able to pause and wait for the condition to pass. There are many factors which may cause a minor hiccup in the audio and/or video stream including server performance, network traffic, firewall connectivity or local machine performance at either end. We will do some monitoring in future session to gain additional insights into this.

Presentation Considerations: It felt very strange as the presenter as in this particular case I could not see or hear the audience. I felt like I was talking in a vacuum. It is very difficult to get a sense of whether or not you are delivery the presentation well when there is no audience cues or reaction. It is amazing what you pick up standing in front of a live audience. You automatically make eye contact, adjust your voice levels and pace, move around (at least somewhat) and visually you have a sense of whether or not the audience is understanding the content.

In terms of my office setup, we did check web cam clarity, volume levels and adjust lighting (watch for shadows). Having a suitable backdrop is important. My bookcase was acceptable, but many backgrounds are not. I made note of two things in this area.

1. The relative height of the web cam relative to your eyes. You need to think of the ‘shot angle’ in the same way a newscast is done. I think  having the web cam a eye level so you can look straight ahead is better.

2. I had a few notes on my desk to refer to in addition to the powerpoint slides being broadcast along with the web cam images. I want to raise up the notes to minimize the number of times you glance away from the web cam.

Audience Reactions: I was interested in the audience reaction. While many saw this as a useful tool that offered many benefits, some expressed a preference for face to face meetings. No reaction is right or wrong, just interesting to note.

Next Steps: We are running our second meeting presentation tomorrow night so I will try to make some adjustments to my setup. I want to set up a 3rd connection which would show the audience on one of the web cams to give me a better sense of audience reaction. We are also going to monitor the bandwidth usage while the session is occurring, so that will be interesting.  We will offer remote attend to our next set of meetings in February.

It is great to keep moving ahead.

~ Mark