University of Alberta

Synchronous Learning Tool

Synchronous Learning Tool Production Service

As part of the Digital Learning Pilots R & D project, we selected a new synchronous learning platform to power eClass Live. Adobe Connect has been selected as the University of Alberta's centrally supported tool for delivering synchronous courses for digital learning. It supports instructors in all faculties and provides fully mobile synchronous learning experiences to all students, and is integrated with eClass, powered by Moodle. Over the spring and summer terms of 2013, we piloted Adobe Connect in a number of courses and now offer a university-wide production environment for the Fall 2013 term. The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) worked with those instructors who'd used Elluminate previously to migrate them from Elluminate to Adobe Connect, and Elluminate will be de-commissioned in the next two weeks. CTL has offered several free training courses (http://ctl.ualberta.ca/events) during the summer and will continue to offer them in the future. We encourage all synchronous instructors to attend a free training session.


Synchronous Learning Tool Selection Project

The current synchronous learning tool, eClass Live!, is powered by Elluminate. Elluminate was purchased by Blackboard and discontinued in favour of a new product named Collaborate, based on Elluminate's code. As Elluminate is no longer supported, the University needs to select a new tool to serve as eClass Live!

Background

The University of Alberta has been using Elluminate as its centrally supported synchronous learning tool for a number of years. In July 2010, Blackboard announced the purchase of Elluminate and Wimba, and in December 2012, announced the end of support for Elluminate. This termination of support forces the University to adopt a new synchronous learning tool for eClass Live! The Blackboard Corporation expects Elluminate and Wimba sites to migrate to Blackboard Collaborate.

Selection Process Flow and Intended Timeline

The selection of this tool has been thought out carefully, and the project flow follows. Current step is emphasized.

  • Project team formed.
  • Demonstrations of the products to the project team.
  • Stakeholder identification and invitation.
  • Survey of stakeholders of current use and knowledge of products.
  • Demonstrations of the products to stakeholders. The demonstrations will be conducted by Duane Szafron, a professor who teaches, going through a list of tools in the same order for each product. Usability will be evaluated for each tool in each product. Mobility support will be evaluated on iOS (phone, tablet) and Android.
  • Survey of stakeholders for each product, including usability and mobility impressions.
  • Final survey of stakeholders, for overall impressions.
  • Selection of product (pricing and licensing requirements in play).
  • Set up of selected product (installation, configuration, testing).
  • Pilot (Spring and Summer Terms 2013). Participate in the summer pilot!
  • Production (Fall Term 2013).

Synchronous Learning Tool - Call for Participation in a Limited Number of Pilots - Spring and Summer Terms

As I indicated in my Synchronous Learning Tool Selection Announcement, we have selected Adobe Connect as the University of Alberta's centrally-supported tool for delivering synchronous courses.

Now we are planning to run a small number of pilot courses in Spring and Summer terms. In the Spring term we will use a standalone Adobe Connect server which will be accessed from Moodle links. In the summer term we will have a tighter integration between Moodle and Adobe Connect, although Adobe Connect will still be usable from other Learning Management Systems using links.

Is there an instructor in your unit, with a course offering in Spring or Summer, who is VERY experienced in teaching with specific synchronous tools such as break-out groups, application sharing, polling and allowing students to present their own work using synchronous tool functionality?

Would this instructor be interested in participating as one of a small number of pilots of Adobe Connect in the Spring or Summer term? If so, please ask this person to contact Tashie or me by e-mail by March 28.

We will provide Adobe Connect training for the instructors in April.

The project team will review the list of interested instructors and select a few for each pilot term. Do not worry if your instructor is not selected for one of the pilot terms, as we are still on-track for offering a campus-wide production environment for the Fall term that they will be able to use.

Duane Szafron, VPIT

Pilot courses and instructors

Spring Term 2013
EDIT 202Anwen Burk
EDEL 325Amanda Montgomery
MED 543Holly Huber
NURS 301 & INTD 570Nursing
Science AdvisementJulie Naylor
Summer Term 2013
TBATBD

Synchronous Learning Tools considered

Synchronous Learning Tools demonstration schedule

Selection notice

Thank you for participating as a stakeholder in the Synchronous Learning Tool selection project. There was some urgency to this project since we needed to evaluate the appropriate products in time for a Spring term pilot and Fall term institution-wide production release. We have compiled requirements and evaluated their importance. The project team has seen demos of 5 leading products and we conducted public demos of each of them. We have evaluated the 5 products, based on the requirements and stakeholder responses. The consensus of both the project team and the stakeholders is that two of the products, Adobe Connect and Blackboard Collaborate, are much more suitable for our Synchronous Learning Environment needs than the other three products.

For example the overall average scores from the Stakeholder surveys for each of the five products were:

  • Adobe Connect: 4.40
  • Blackboard Collaborate: 4.01
  • Cisco WebEX: 3.43
  • Big Blue Button: 2.46
  • Microsoft Lync: 2.32

These relative scores, the comments of the stakeholders, and the evaluations by the core project team has led us to select Adobe Connect as our solution. Although Adobe Connect and Blackboard were both high in the scoring, Adobe Connect was viewed as being much better for current Tablet and Smartphone Support (4.63 versus 3.25) and Application (Desktop) Sharing (4.16 versus 3.58).

The next step for this project is to run a small number of pilot courses in Spring term using Adobe Connect and to prepare a communications and training plan so that we can move to full production mode in time for the Fall term. If you have taught a course using synchronous tools before and would like to participate in one of the Spring term pilots, please send Tashie an e-mail. Although we can only run a few pilots in the Spring, we need to run some so we can gather valuable user feedback before the Fall term. Please monitor the project website for further information. However, we will also send an e-mail about training during the spring/summer.

Thank you for filling out the requirements survey, for attending the public demos and for filling out the evaluations surveys for each product, and completing the final survey to rate them. In summary, thank you for participating in this project!

Project Team

  • Duane Szafron, Team Chair and Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Information Technology)
  • Calvin Barnes, Project Manager, AICT
  • Anwen Burk, Education
  • Mike Carbonaro, Professor, Associate Chair & Undergrad Coordinator, Ed Psych
  • Jennifer Chesney, Assoc Vice-President, University Digital Strategy
  • Scott Delinger, IT Strategic Initiatives Officer
  • Tashie Macapagal, Exec Asst to VPIT, survey and project coordinator
  • Dave Sun, Technical Team Lead, Centre for Teaching and Learning
  • Patrick Thibaudeau, IT Team Lead, Campus Saint Jean
  • Janet Welch, Assistant Dean, Educational Technology Services, Faculty of Education
  • Kim Peacock, Senior Academic Tech Officer, Faculty of Education

Notes

Frequently asked questions are addressed, and you are encouraged to ask others at and they will be added to the FAQ page.

There will be regular communications to the community on the progress of the migration.

Note that the selection of a new synchronous learning tool only affects the centrally supported LMS. Use of the central synchronous tool is not mandated.