Saturday, February 11, 2012

Blackboard Collaborate: Things I would like to see.

I am not sure how many of my blog readers know this but I do most of my teaching using a synchronous tool called Elluminate Live. Actually it now goes under the name of Blackboard Collaborate but in CDLI will not be using the most updated version until 2012... so we still call it Elluminate Live. For purposes of this blog I will call it Blackboard Collaborate.

Unlike many teachers who record their Blackboard Collaborate classes and post them online, I actually use one of Blackboards' tools called Publish and publish my classes using a jar/unplugged format and h264 mobile format. I do this so students can view the devices on either a computer or a mobile device. Using the jar format allows students to print the notes and screenshots from the class basically on demand. The ability to do this with a recorded virtual class is quite advantageous for many reasons. But it is a time consuming process... Hence my first feature request.

When we open the manager tool for Blackboard Collaborate, we can see a list of recordings on the server. When we click on the link for the recording we have the option to open and review the class or save the jnlp /temp file to our computer. It is this file that I use inside of Publish to render the recordings. But... What if there were options located next to this link inside the manager which allowed you to publish the recording directly to your computer? What if there was a way to publish directly to your LMS from the Blackboard Collaborate manager? That would take out the intermediate step of using your computer to render the classes entirely. This would be an enormous time saver for teachers who publish their own recordings in the way that I do. Why not have the ability to publish to your YouTube channel directly from the manager? Imagine the ease at which a teacher using Blackboard Collaborate could repurpose review classes for a small group to video learning clips for the whole planet to use. That would require a video editor to be added to the Publish tool... Something that I would like to see added as well. I guess that would be the second feature request.

The third feature request comes indirectly from my experiences with Texas Instruments. On one of my online pd sessions with Texas Instruments, I had a participant ask if she could use her iPad to log into our synchronous session. So, being ever so curious, I decided to look at the possibility. When I was finished testing I was able to connect to a synchronous session using an iPad, iPhone and iPod with an external phone line. But... we were using WebEx as our synchronous tool. So Blackboard Collaborate... I would like an app that allows my students to log into my classes on a tablet and a smartphone. Not only would my students find such a tool very cool... It just may increase attendance in class while students are traveling, at home due to snowstorms, etc... Even if the app allowed a participant to log in while the teacher/instructor still logged into a class with a computer would be a great step forward. For this request I think about Wayne Gretzky. He did not pass the puck to where a teammate was... He passed it to where they were going to be. I feel this request in time is getting closer to the Great One passing the puck to where the player is. Hopefully the pass won't be behind the player.

Blackboard Collaborate is a phenomenal tool for online delivery. These things would, for me, make this tool that much more phenomenal!


Dana Griffiths said...

Rick: Right now most of our students have access to a home computer or laptop, and can watch the published recordings. But as tablets continue to increase in popularity, people are going to replace their laptops with tablets. Desktops/laptops are going to go the way of the land line - and be seen as an option, not a necessity. Your third feature request is so important!

Valerie Schreiner said...

Rick, I am wondering if you have had the opportunity to try the new MP4 feature that allows you to convert recordings to MP4's in the cloud without having to use Publish. The resulting files can automatically appear inside the LMS structure as well. Your feedback appreciated.