Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cisco Systems- WebEx Collaborative Network Learning Enviornment

Cisco Systems under their brand name of WebEx is offering a full suite of enterprise-wide applications or collaborative network learning (CNL) software in the form of WebEx Meeting Center, WebEx Event Center, WebEx Training Center and WebEx Remote Support. WebEx fulfills the need for value-added learning, training and communication through intra-personal, inter personal and group communication in a fast paced world.

WebEx Meeting with its multipoint video capability provides intra-personal communication, in the form of interpreting other people’s non-verbal communication, and interpersonal communication which apart from video is augmented with voice, chat, notes, and annotation tools. Visualization capabilities of the software include allowing participants to share their desktops with other participants and accessing a virtual whiteboard that allows everyone to illustrate their thoughts and ideas. Additionally, shared visuals can include files and applications like PowerPoint presentations or charts, graphs, and system learning applications.

Most importantly, all of the knowledge sharing and comments that takes place during a meeting can be recorded and shared with others in a secure environment. The recording tool allows networked teams to keep everyone updated on the latest status of a project, issue, or situation and can be viewed anytime, anywhere. In a classroom environment WebEx Training Center provides all the functionality of WebEx Meeting but focused on a learning environment offering breakout rooms, hands on labs, and integrated testing capabilities.

One of the key features of WebEx Meeting that supports group engagement is the ability to chat with one person or everyone, allowing side conversations between members that are common in F2F meetings. There is also a hand raising feature so you can make sure you get the chance to ask your question without intruding on the current speaker. Other key features include a whiteboard that allows meeting members to draw up ideas or produce answers in a group effort and the ability for the host to pass control to other members so that they can share their desktop or any other information they may have in an orderly fashion so everyone is not trying to share their creative ideas at once. WebEx also offers the option to mute one or more persons when necessary.

WebEx Meeting promotes communication flexibility and user access by extending its platform beyond the PC to iPad, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and other mobile devices. WebEx Meeting promotes interactivity in a meeting or classroom learning environment.

General considerations to stimulate your thinking

We need to support the different roles of humans in their effort to use a CNL and a CWL by creating new processes that make their work more efficient. Processes such as WebEx do this. As noted in Eisenberg, Goodall, et al (2010), we need to create team learning environments so that all members function as a whole which will “enhance a team’s capacity to think and act in new, synergistic ways, with full coordination and a sense of unity among team members.” (p226) Today humans transcend over large areas to do their work, they need simple yet robust programs, processes and connections to their employees, employers and customers allowing them to serve their needs. The same dimensions of teamwork in a physical workplace need to operate in a virtual world so that each employee is able to feel a part of a team and do their job to the best of their ability.

Facilitation and leadership--throughput

To support the learning process with a CNL program such as WebEx Meeting, teams need to meet on a regular basis. To encourage dialogue, brainstorm ideas, attend a learning seminar and to feel a part of a group, a video conference is beneficial. WebEx provides tools that allow people to listen, make comments and contributions and participate in a learning atmosphere that create an advanced virtual world where anyone with internet access can go. Prompts such as a whiteboard for sharing thoughts and comments, raising hands to ask questions, areas to make and build on diagrams, pictures, graphs, and notes are essential for facilitating a group/team feeling.

Concept formation--throughput

The power to connect anyone, anytime, anywhere is bringing learning workers together like never before. The old constructs that once dictated formal ideation (the process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas) has been replaced by a worker’s ability to connect with friends, associates, and colleagues immediately in the WebEx Meeting Center and gather instant feedback to new, untested ideas. Knowledge sharing and knowledge polling can be spontaneous, raw, unencumbered, and very advantageous for team collaboration.

Some of the key tools available in WebEx Meeting Center include chat, notes, live annotation, and polls which are very useful in determining how workers really feel about a given subject or idea. Anonymous polling allows every worker to respond truthfully without worrying about the politics of the question. Additional features include:

· WebEx Meeting Center Product Features

· Supports from 25 to 500 participants

· Unlimited meetings

· High-quality video conferencing

· Integrated voice conferencing

· Network-based recording

· Meet on your mobile device

· Compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, and Solaris

· Localization for 10 languages

Representational tools and knowledge access—input

Tools and strategies such as blogs allow people to put their own thoughts in a place where others can view them at their convenience. Families that live distant from one another or virtual work groups can also blog about the days events so that all members of the team and family can stay updated. Features such as Wi-Fi, 3G, and 4G with smart phones, ipads, laptops etc. allow access to this information from inside or outside an organization.

Representational tools such as WebEx Training Center allows for live interactive online instruction and training. This program will help expand and improve the learning experience of students or team members in a work environment. Some of the features include:

· WebEx Training Center Product Features

· Ability to share documents, applications, streaming videos, and more

· Multi-point video

· Breakout sessions and hands-on labs

· Online polls and quizzes

· Chat and threaded Q&A

· Attendance registration and tracking

· Integrated audio (using a telephone bridge,VoIP, or a mix of both)

· LMS support

· Up to 1,000 participants per session

Socio-emotional messages and trust--throughput

All of the features in WebEx Meeting and WebEx Training Center are essential for a collaborative learning environment and originally designed to enhance productivity. However, a number of features like multipoint video, active talker, on-demand record, and polling provide a context where members can build and maintain trust with one another. Of all the features, I would argue that video and active talker promote trust the most. Sensing the verbal and non-verbal communication between members allows us to give our trust and thereby gaining trust from others.

WebEx Meeting allows the host to pass control to other members in the meeting just as would be expected if all the members were having a F2F meeting experience. Communication norms can easily be managed by the host allowing a loosely-coupled structure on one end to a highly structured presentation format on the other. Feedback can be in the form of chat and notes or even more integrated through document, application, and desktop sharing and file transfer

Eric M. Eisenberg, H. L. Goodall, Jr., Angela Trethwey (2010) Organizational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraint (6ed), St. Bedford/St. Martin's.

For any additional comments and/or questions

Don Hows

Jasmine Lester

Dawn Andalft-Newman

Friday, March 18, 2011

Great App for Visual Collaborative Learning Work

As the world flattens and virtual collaboration becomes more common in learning and in business, countless collaboration tools have been developed and used with widely varying usability and popularity. Colaab, launched in 2009 out of Scotland, got our attention because it boasts a few notable distinctions from many of its competitors in the groupware marketplace. First, other than the installation of a small Microsoft Silverlight plug-in upon sign-up, you don’t need to download anything to use Colaab – everything happens in the internet browser. And updates happen in real time without the need to refresh your screen, so you can see what’s happening in your group as it’s happening. Colaab allows users to do more with comments and annotations than other groupware tools, which can simplify the process of expressing and interpreting thoughts in the group. But most significantly, Colaab is the only collaboration tool on the market to employ Silverlight’s DeepZoom technology, which allows users to view high-resolution, high-quality images with virtually no wait time. This powerful imagery distinction makes Colaab ideal for art students, architects, designers, advertisers, and others who routinely work with high-resolution images in a collaborative environment.

But Colaab has those of us who are more likely to share plain old written documents covered, too.

When we log into a workspace (which may be one of several that we see on our personal dashboard), we see tabs on the right side showing recent actions, news feed, and communications as well as a list of all co-collaborators in the group, with those who are currently logged in lit up green. These real-time feeds, along with full audit trails of all actions in the workspace, ensure accountability among teammates, a critical piece of collaborative learning work.

We can easily initiate chat, set up a videoconference, or send a personal email from these tabs on the right, or we can start working with our team resources. Just about any existing file can be uploaded and shared through Colaab, or we can create documents (.doc, .docx, .ppt, .pptx, or .pdf); images (.png, .jpg, .psd, or .gif); videos (.wmv), or XPS files right there on the site. Or, a teammate can enter a URL and Colaab will get a screen grab of it for the group to work with. All team members can work on these resources together in real time, or we can opt to add input asynchronously, as our personal schedules permit. Feedback is easy to give and receive with the use of the resource toolbar, which allows collaborators to add comments or annotations to the open resource. The comments can actually be connected visually to a specific area of the image or document, and the annotations can be markings of any kind or color – a great way to convey ideas about the resource without having to express (and for the receiver to interpret) the right words! The screen shot below shows what we might see if we were collaborating on the design of a house. Note the pointed comments and the circle annotation around the window.

Responding to these notes is as easy as clicking in the comment box. These annotation and commenting methods can be used in written documents, photographs, and even in videos, which users can opt to watch with or without comments and annotations visible. Ideas can be refined by the group as they pool their individual knowledge and perspectives to their project.

Colaab has just been introduced at University College Falmouth in the U.K., where it is used by students in the schools of art, design, media, and performance. With the use of this DeepZoom-enabled software platform, people working in the visual arts won’t need to co-locate to work together as they have in the past – more art and design classes could be structured as online learning experiences. And even those who do share the same physical location may find that communication and collaboration flow more freely with the use of Colaab. A drama teacher could record and upload dress rehearsal of a performance and then the entire cast and crew could annotate, wordlessly pointing out areas that need to be improved by simply circling someone’s position on stage, for example. No words need be exchanged, and yet the message comes across to the person who is standing out of position, with the likely result that she will be more careful to hit her mark on opening night. This added layer of communicating could engender trust among teammates – the set painter feels comfortable pointing out the flaw he notices in the lead actress’s performance to improve the final product that they all have invested in, and she appreciates the opportunity to adjust something she hadn’t realized needed the tweak.

So, Colaab offers many dimensions of interpersonal communication, ranging from rich transactional videoconferencing to interactional notes or drawings, but we would have liked to have seen more to help with our intrapersonal musings. Workspaces are set as either public or private, and everything on the space falls into that same category (with the exception of email messages, which are always private). It would be useful to have a post-it note/reminder tool, or a journal that we could keep within the workspace that is strictly for our own future viewing rather than for sharing with the group.

Another add on our wish list is a survey or polling tool, which could come in handy when a group consensus is needed. Overall, the Colaab site offers enough to be useful and to make it stand out from its competitors, especially if the collaborators are working with high-resolution images or are visual thinkers. The sites looks great, is easy to navigate, and offers real time updates on everything that’s happening within the workspace. And it’s relatively new, with a team of developers who actively solicit feedback from users. It’s worth checking out! Go to to learn more or to start your 30-day free trial.

Kelley Paradis
Carly Neill
Neelima Manandhar

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

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Colwiz (collective wisdom)platform for Collaborative Learning Work

Collaborative learning-work within and among groups has many parallels to a research process moving from intrapersonal idea creation to the final stage of creation of an artifact of the process such as design specification, publication or functioning application software. Oxford University scientists have launched free software that seeks to provide researchers the tools they need to collaborate more efficiently and quickly with colleagues working in different research areas. The colwiz (collective wisdom) platform manages the entire research lifecycle from an initial idea, through a complex collaboration, to publication of the results. Colwiz combines a publication library with communications and collaboration tools for brainstorming, research tasks, and schedule management. The colwiz R&D platform manages the entire research lifecycle from an initial idea, through a complex collaboration, to publication of the results. By breaking down the research process into its key components the developers figured out which tools were potentially the most important and then custom-built each tool from scratch and integrated them seamlessly into a single platform for individual and group productivity. New free software, launched today by Oxford University scientists, gives researchers the tools they need to collaborate more efficiently and quickly with colleagues scattered around the world and working in a variety of different research areas.
At the moment researchers are using a dizzying array of different applications to communicate and collaborate,’ said colwiz Chief Scientist Professor David Gavaghan of Oxford University. ‘These might include Google Apps, Microsoft Live Services, LinkedIn, Yammer and Social Text. But because these are separate applications they don’t do everything and don’t always talk to each other, and this slows researchers down. colwiz replaces this hotchpotch with an integrated suite of tools custom-built for fast and efficient management of the research process.’ Colwiz is now available to support some of the essential demands of collaborative learning-work at the group and organizational level. To continue to follow the developments of this promising new platform for interdisciplinary collaborations visit colwiz