Last week saw the commencement of a trial of the virtual classroom application from Blackboard called Collaborate.
Collaborate allows you to create virtual spaces to which you can invite students and colleagues and share video, audio, documents (PSFs, images and PowerPoints) and a whiteboard. If you use the Chrome browser to access Collaborate, you can also share an application. Yesterday, I used Collaborate to edit an abstract with a colleague at Sheffield Hallam University and later walked a student through an ANOVA test in SPSS. While only I was able to edit the Word document and run the SPSS test, the other parties could see what was happening and engage in the discussion. The only downside I found yesterday with application sharing is that the main application window is shared but not pop-up windows. This meant that, for example, when I was configuring the options screen for ANOVA, the other party could not see it.
Being able to record the session is a very useful feature of Collaborate. The recordings are stored in the Collaborate cloud and are accessible via a link which means that anyone anywhere who has the link can see the recording. The extent of editing these recording, as you can easily in Panopto, is yet to be investigated.
So far there are 25 people in the Collaborate pilot. If you would like to test the application please contact David Biggins.