Thursday, March 17, 2011

Recommended Software Application - Collaborative Networked Learning

After conducting research on various CMC software applications that support intrapersonal, interpersonal and/or group that enhance and support learning in present and/or future Collaborative Networked Learning (CNL) and Collaborative Learning-Work (CLW) environments (two learning concepts introduced in the 1980s by Charles A. Findley after conducting research on future trends and directions which have become popular in various fields as well as education and business), Avaya Web.alive was selected as it clearly exemplifies the CNL and CLW environments in the workplace.

Avaya web.alive offers a tangible meeting place where employees can meet “face to face” with co-workers, customers, and suppliers anytime – no matter where they work or live - without the hassles and costs associated with travel, without the expense or resources required for video conferencing, and provides the capabilities beyond traditional voice and online communications. This is a Web collaboration tool that provides organizations with innovative new ways to meet; learn from a distance; and conduct online sales. It is very different from other collaboration solutions in that it connects participants in collaboration sessions featuring 3D visuals and spatial audio. Multiple, free-flowing discussions can take place simultaneously while participants can access all materials related to the discussion/session.

The features outlined below support collaboration among individuals, teams, and groups in that they promote the establishment and continued development of healthy interpersonal (communication between and among individuals) and intra-personal (communication involving oneself – what one hears, sees, discerns, learns, etc.) communication. This is made possible by the medium or environment that Avaya provides (collaborative networked environment) which is state-of-the-art and conducive to the sharing of data, information and value-added learning. The visualization features (face-to-face or avatar-based), communication features (3D voice, private audio, Omni voice, audio indicators, text chat, phone), collaboration features (document presentation, desktop sharing, file sharing, drop box, 3D interactive objects, meeting controls, web co-browsing – live streaming), and features relative to analytics capability and identify/security, all support CNL and CLW processes.

With increasingly geographically diverse workforces, companies are seeking ways of ensuring smooth and effective collaboration at a distance to avoid the burden of travel costs. Avaya’s web.alive helps to dramatically reduce the costs associated with team meetings, customers and partner events as well as larger (up to 250 users) events that require engagement and meaningful interaction. Feature-rich tools enhance the collaboration experience, speeding problem solving and increasing productivity. Through rich and immersive avatar-based collaboration, you are able to add sincerity and social presence to online meetings; see what others are seeing and where they are looking; use context-rich and engaging environments; and leverage a suite of collaboration tools to create a truly all-in-one easy to use meeting via Avaya’s web.alive experience. Avaya’s web.alive is always on and always available as a place where ad-hoc or accidental collaboration sessions can happen. Structured recurring meetings, customer sales presentations, or even marketing events can take advantage of this technology and create the opportunity for new business.

Avaya’s web.alive delivers significant business value by drastically reducing the expense associated with business travel while increasing business effectiveness through a higher level of engagement with your employees, customers and partners to build better relationships. Both you and your customers will love the convenience of this solution.

Avaya’s web.alive enables employees to increase their business effectiveness through effective engaging and collaborative learning that is attractive to the workforce and to millennials particularly. Contextualized learning (replicating the process or the environment in which a skill is applied in order to embed learning) at a lower price point than traditional learning solutions, synchronous and asynchronous modules and the flexibility for employees to be trained from home. All of these characteristics and capabilities make Avaya’s web.alive the ideal solution to increase business effectiveness.

Innovative features that transform business productivity:

· 3D voice – proximity-based stereo sound with echo cancellation, whisper and shout modes
· Private audio – secure audio mixed on the server with audio rooms where no one can eavesdrop
· Omni Voice – voice broadcast throughout environment or in a room
· Audio indicators – voice volume indicates that show who is speaking, even if off-screen
· Text chat – private, group or global
· Telephone – integration with “speakerphone” calls (SIP or VoIP) to outside participants
· Gestures/animation – gestures and sophisticated movements that add realism to the virtual experience
· Presence – idle and away states that let you know when others have stepped away
· Simple Controls – allows anyone with a mouse or keypad to navigate like a pro
· Document presentation – file (ppt, pptx. pdf, jpeg, png, gif) drag and drop, right-click upload, copy and paste
· Desktop sharing – allows others to see your desktop screen for expanded collaboration
· File sharing – drag and drop or right click, share with one or more users
· Drop box – drag and drop files into virtual folder for easy storage and later downloading
· 3D interactive objects – engaging objects that encourage participation
· Laser pointer – point to specific items
· Web co-browsing – allows you to display Web pages, live-streaming video and your existing ad server
· Invite a friend – bring colleagues into the mix with URL that teleports them to your location
· Meeting controls – role-based privileges that allow you to restrict who can upload and share materials
Identity and security
· User login options – support for anonymous and authenticated user options with sophisticated security and privacy measures built into the interface
· ID management – user identity and origin displayed on custom photo badge
· Personalization – tool that allows users to choose an avatar’s appearance and attire
· User/admin privileges – control which users can access web.alive features and/or which rooms they can access, plus admin user controls from within the environment to kick, mute or ban users
· Identity integration – allows you to integrate with your enterprise LDAP/active directory

Analytics and notifications
· Notifications – desktop notification in the heads-up display or system tray as well as e-mail notifications with customer rules when users arrive, or other defined triggers
· Live stats – data on what users are doing right now
· Historical stats – data, such as location, frequency and duration, on users, visits, voice conversations/activity, object interactions and system performance available over dashboard Web interface

· Easy installation – three clicks to be up and running in web.alive with auto-audio device detection for voice that just works
· Browser-based – browser-based and embedded on your existing Web site
· Firewall traversal – auto detects firewall and tunnel via https if required
· Self-administration – manage users, permissions, environment selection and customization online
· Developer kit – APIs and software development kits for Web integration, mashups and content customizations
· Scalability – sessions of 200+ participants with voice
· Deployment options – hosted Software-as-a-Service or customer premise deployment behind the firewall
· Client requirements – Intel 945 integrated graphics or better; 128MB, Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7; IGB RAM, 1.50Ghz CPU; Internet Explorer 6/7/8 or Firefox 3/3.5 or Google Chrome and Adobe Flash; USB stereo headset with microphone (optional but recommended)

We look forward to hearing from anyone who has used this software application.

Hema Ghale
Rachelle (Shelly) Goulet
Angela Shennette


Jasmine Lester said...

Anaya sounds like a very interesting tool that can be use for meeting and team projects and being able to communicate remotely. Can it be used as a classroom learning enviroment? Does it all you to record and archive the meetings like keep meeting notes or as a training tool that can be sent out through the whole company.

Don Hows said...

I certainly enjoyed being introduced to Avaya web.alive. As a communications company, Avaya is offering a product which is quite unique to the marketplace.

One of the advantages of this application is that it is always on and always available, but that also means that the environment (Meet, Sell, or Learn) is fixed which makes sense, since it is trying to replicate either a meeting room, selling floor, or a learning center. I don't see the application trying to be a virtual business where you walk through the front door and then make your way to a conference room or a demo room, or a learning center, though I may be wrong on this point.

I think the whole concept of the virtual business with avatars is best suited for the selling and learning side of collaboration. Avaya's website talks about the application's ability to convert more visitors to buyers which tells me that the primary driver behind this app is one to help business sell more products online. And I can see where the virtual world and the avatars may be quite attractive to potential buyers because it has a game-like quality to it. You can customize the environment with your own company logos, but it seems like there is minimal choice in environmental designs. I can also see where this approach would be effective with customized learning because you have that "first person" view of your virtual world which helps mimic a real learning environment.

I personally feel that the application's ability to provide a highly interactive collaboration experience is a little less robust than those products that offer full video. On a video call, I know that I am fully engaged in the conversation, either listening or participating. With an avatar-based virtual environment, I'm paying additional attention to the graphics and generally just looking around. When I want to collaborate, that's what I want to do. I really don't want to have to move my avatar to a specific location or have to get close to another person in order to have my words heard. It really just feels like more work in order to get the heart of the matter.

However, with that said, I can see where the virtual world could accommodate one to visualize their own intra-personal communication. I can see my avatar now, just standing in the middle of a room and staring off into space with little thought bubbles (that I was typing from my PC) hovering over my head.

Kudos for bringing Avaya web.alive to my attention and I hope that I'll be able to use it in the not too distant future.

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