Tag: Adobe Connect

My Top 10 eLearning Blogs

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm in Blog, Training

I’ve gotten quite a few emails over the years about where I go (outside of Adobe’s communications) to further my knowledge about eLearning, and how it applies in today’s market – from the working world to educational institutions, etc.

Staying aware of how eLearning is being used today is a very important thing for me to stay on top of so I can see how others besides our clients are using potentially competitive tools, as well as garner some ideas about how to utilize ours better.

That being said, and without trying to sound like David Letterman, here’s my top 10 ;)

  1. eLearning Industry  – One of the most highly regarded eLearning sites on the net today. Insightful articles, relevant content and a neutral approach make this site my #1.
  2. Corporate eLearning Strategies and Development – Brent Schlenker is very entertaining. Great posts on eLearning technology, as well as strategies.
  3. Trends in eLearning & mLearning – The personal website and bloggings of RJ Jacquez, former Adobe Evangelist for several products. The man is amazing. Enough said.
  4. E-Learning Journeys – I was directed here from a client initially about 2 years ago. Been a reader ever since.
  5. Learning with ‘e’s – A great blog that is more devoted the technology that powers eLearning in the EDU space. Steve Wheeler knows his stuff.
  6. LifeFeast – A great blog that takes a student and teacher point of view in today’s eLearning world.
  7. eLearnSpace – This site has some of the most informative articles about the eLearning space, industry, conferences, etc. A great one to have in your back pocket.
  8. Lectora eLearning Blog – The one competitive product blog that I will list here. Lectora makes some great applications, but this site also includes some great examples.
  9. Rapid eLearning – The official Adobe Captivate blog. I know, seems like a shameless plug but it isn’t. If you’re a Captivate user, bookmark this page. You can thank me later.
  10. E-Learning 24/7 – A great site that references eLearning tools, technologies, tips and tricks. To me it has much more of a community feel to it rather than one person’s blog.

So there you have it. Those are the first 10 sites that I tend to reference to find out the latest trends, as well as what’s going on in the eLearning world.

Please don’t hesitate to comment and add another eLearning site that you frequent too. I always try to find new sites to add to my arsenal – especially in the rapidly growing eLearning space.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Dicker    |   jeff@realeyesconnect.com

The RealEyes Connect Approach to Training

Posted on February 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm in Blog

Aside from being an Adobe Solution Partner, RealEyes Connect is also an Adobe Authorized Training Center. That being said, we take all facets of very seriously. The purpose of this post is to familiarize the readers with our approach to training versus traditional training methods and other training providers.

I’ve been there. I’ve sat through training sessions and listened to the instructor(s) elaborate on items that didn’t apply to me. That being said, in past experiences I’ve found myself losing interest, and losing interest fast. Once that process begins, it’s harder than one might think to simply get right back into it once your area of focus is covered. What’s important to understand is that with some other training providers, the instructors are reading from a script per se – just following a curriculum chapter by chapter. And especially in the case of using software, if you’re like me, you enjoy using software and can only remain patient in training for so long before you want to begin trying it out for yourself. I myself am a Kinesthetic Learner, so those reading this that also fall into the category of the “doers” can feel my pain.

Unlike some other training providers of software, our main goal is to provide our trainees with the confidence to use the software effectively and efficiently to better simplify their processes, and not to show only what the software does. It is very important to understand that all software serves an initial purpose, but in my experiences, the best use cases are from those that utilize their available software(s) for their initial purpose, and then some. It takes a certain mix of creative and technical knowledge to some degree to really comprehend how the software can be beneficial beyond its initial intention. One of my favorite examples of how Adobe Connect – a web conferencing and training platform is being utilized can be found here from one of our clients.

We try to customize each training session for the trainees. While there are training guides available for commercial use, we feel that they better serve as an outline of sorts, meaning that nothing is really set in stone, and they can be tweaked, since they’re merely included subject matter. We truly believe in being in catering to our trainees and clients to the best of our abilities, so if whatever they need further emphasis on, we try to cover it with a combination of lecture and hands-on training.  Simply setting up a training strategy prior to the session(s) is a standard practice so we too are best prepared as soon as the session begins. In turn, we can maximize our time for additional elaboration, Q&A, etc. The hands-on portion is very important because repetition with software is what will build the most solid foundation, and instill the confidence to use it.

Let’s face it, you might not really need to know every little thing that your software can do, but you should know exactly how to use it to your advantage. The best part thereafter is building on what you learned in training and discovering how it can better suit your needs and extend it further to maximize its potential.

Thanks for reading!

Jeff Dicker    |   jeff@realeyesconnect.com

What should a Web Conferencing Tool Be?

Posted on October 17, 2013 at 3:54 pm in Blog, Products

Over the last seven years, I have become very familiar with what various web conferencing solutions offer. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Since we can’t get all the manufacturers to come together to build a single super web conferencing tool — we’ll just have to stick with the tool that best fits our needs. I have used Adobe Connect for many years now, and it does fit most of my requirements well. I’ll show how Connect does and doesn’t fit my needs.

Keeping that in mind, what do I expect from a web conferencing tool?

I’d like to see the term changed to Web Collaboration tool. This is due to the fact that these tools (Adobe Connect, WebEx, GoTo Meeting, etc.) have moved away from simply being vehicles for you to deliver a lecture via the Internet. They offer so much more. There is the ability to collaborate live on a single object or program, interactive content can be loaded into many of these solutions, providing a rich experience to users, and we can use live video and other media options to put the human element back into these sessions.

Gone are the days of the ‘man behind the curtain’ feel of web collaboration sessions (unless that is the feeling you are looking for).

This isn’t really an expectation, but more of an accurate name for what these tools offer.

Below are some of my expectations. Now, I don’t expect to match up 100% to what everyone else wants, and that is the beauty of having options in the market place, but from what I have seen, these are fairly common needs.

Simple User Interface

Nobody wants to spend half of a one hour session teaching the participants how to effectively listen, watch and ask questions. A complicated or difficult to understand user interface (UI) can be the biggest killer to any product. Making the ability to have a live conversation difficult to find and initiate will override any of the other amazing features of a web collaboration tool. I want to be able to join a live session and be able to easily find all the major functions that I will commonly use. This can include text chat, broadcasting my audio from phone/VoIP, sharing my screen, sharing a document, broadcasting live video, etc. Keep the UI clean and simple with obvious icons and text.

Connect has evolved over the last few versions to have a clean and relatively simple UI. Although, there are still some features that could stand to have some improvements (that pod options menu is hard to explain and hard to remember for new users). However, all of the major functions used in the meeting room are easily found and leveraged.

Persistence

Having the ability to create my collaboration space once and then use it as I need is a huge benefit. Maybe I’m spoiled by getting to use Connect, but I don’t know if I could live without this feature now that I have seen it.

What is persistence in terms of web collaboration? It is the ability to create an online meeting space once, and have it available 24/7/365 for use with scheduled or ad-hoc sessions. It also means that that the online space remains in the exact state I leave it in, so I can pre-load content and assets for use in future sessions. This does also mean that I have to go back and play clean up after a session, but this can be done quickly in Connect. With the new “Reset Layouts” function in Connect 9.1, the room can be returned to match the template from which it was created. Think of it as the ‘factory reset’ button.

Simple Document Sharing

The ability to quickly (and without much thought or effort) share my documents, spread sheets and other resources, both visually and through a file transfer function is a large need of my web collaboration sessions. Who doesn’t need to show a document or a PPT presentation in the world of web collaboration?

Connect’s ability to do this is OK. Gone are the days of needing to use FlashPaper (some of you will appreciate that), but Connect still limits the type of file to be uploaded to PDF or PPT(X) (which are converted to Flash presentations using the Adobe Presenter conversion engine). The solution for DOC(X), XLS(X), or any other document type is screen sharing. This can work, but it is processor and bandwidth intensive, and not an ideal solution. What I wouldn’t give for Connect to have an inline PDF generator, allowing me to drop a DOC file in the share pod and have it convert and display it as PDF. I know it wouldn’t be editable in the meeting, but it would save me the time for document conversion prior to the session as well as bandwidth demand on me and my audience.

Extensions or Additional Functionality

Built in functionality is great. It is a list of functions and features that you can count on being there. The problem comes from when you want something more from your tool. Most collaboration tools don’t offer the ability to create custom functionality for your live sessions. Connect has had an open API and SDK for developing custom applications to run in Connect. This has meant that if you can dream it, it can likely be done in Connect. The biggest drawback is that you need to know how to develop a Flash application or have a resource that can. For those of us who don’t play in ActionScript, there is the Extensions page for Connect where you can find many free or low cost tools to add to your live session and help increase the interaction and attention given by your attendees.

There are, of course, more things that I could call out, but those are my big four. Having the ability to easily achieve these things can lead to an easy to use, engaging and interesting web collaboration tool. The most challenging situation faced by holding online sessions is keeping the human element in the session. If the difficulty of use or lack of engagement takes over, you then lose participants and your message is not communicated effectively. Whatever tool you do decide to use, try to have fun with it and engage your audience.

Do you have other functions of what you consider a ‘need’ in your Web Collaboration tool? Leave a comment below.

Want to have a conversation with us about Web Collaboration or Adobe Connect? Drop us a line.

Setting the Record Straight on Adobe Connect Licensing

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 10:29 am in Blog, Products

At RealEyes we’ve found it is absolutely crucial that Adobe Connect buyers understand the available licensing structure or have a resource on hand that can be used to answer questions that may come up. In some cases, we’ve found that the licensing parameters were never properly explained in pre-purchase discussions, and the resulting deployment may not be as beneficial to the end user as they initially thought. Because there is no documentation available that goes in-depth about the licensing models (how they work, limitations, advantages, etc.), please consider this post as a reference point.

What we will not cover in this post however is pricing. Since the pricing is dependent on which vertical you fall into (Commercial, Education, Government, Non-Profit, etc.). Pricing is something that should be discussed with your vendor. Please feel free to contact us if you have question about pricing.

First and foremost, it is important to point out that Connect is available in a few different flavors:

  1. On-Premise (Enterprise) – This deployment is typically hosted on your server(s), and behind your firewall. Since it is a server platform product, it is subject to perpetual licensing. This means that the server software itself and all licensing must be purchased initially, but thereafter (year 2, year 3, etc.) only the Maintenance & Support is required to be purchased annually. M&S is required at time of purchase, and is normally 20% of the total Connect product purchase. In some cases, special exceptions and/or agreements, contracts, etc. have been established and agreed upon by the end user(s) and Adobe, so they may differ. Please visit the Adobe Platinum Maintenance & Support homepage for further details. Please also note that On-Premise deployments can also be a Managed Service offering; meaning that the deployment is an On-Premise installation that is managed by another company.
  2. Hosted (SaaS) – This works is also known and referred to as a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. In this case, your Adobe Connect deployment is hosted on Adobe’s reserved server clusters. That being said, you are behind Adobe’s firewalls. In some cases, having your account Hosted may or may not be the best solution. It is always best to first check with your IT Dept., Systems Admin, etc. to see what may or may not be a requirement. Since there may be several compliance regulations that your institution may need to adhere to, or if you may need full integration with other pre-existing server based products, Adobe’s servers may be able to suffice, but those kinds of questions cannot be answered here and now, as the scenarios tend to vary greatly. Hosted account purchases through resellers typically include baseline standard Adobe Connect Help and Support.
  3. Adobe Connect Managed Services (Enterprise & SaaS) – This deployment is hosted on dedicated server(s) and managed by Adobe Systems. It includes all of the benefits of an Enterprise deployment, (adhering to your firewall settings, LDAP and/or AD integration, etc) but since it requires no internal network administration, it feels like a SaaS deployment. It is a perpetual licensing model where all licensing must be purchased initially, and must be renewed annually. In some cases, special exceptions and/or agreements, contracts, etc. have been established and agreed upon by the end user(s) and Adobe, so they may differ. Please contact us directly if you have questions about the Adobe Connect Managed Services option. An overview on Adobe Connect Managed Services can be viewed and/or downloaded (.pdf) here.

Note: On-Premise deployments can also be managed by other 3rd party companies have various managed service offerings.

Next, are the available Modules for Connect and their correlating licensing models.

Training Module

  • Concurrent Learner – These licenses are indicative of the Training Module within Connect, and therefore will enable it. With this licensing model, it enables Connect to deploy Curriculums and/or Courses on the system. Any enrolled users will have their results tracked via the lightweight LMS that Connect offers. The concurrency portion translates to having the ability to have up to the total amount of licenses purchased online at any given time having their results tracked systematically. For instance, if you purchase 100 Concurrent Learner licenses, you have the ability to have up to, but no more than, 100 enrollees online concurrently having their results tracked. Unlimited Curriculums and/or Courses can be created, and you can enroll an unlimited amount of users, but you are capped at how many concurrent licenses you have. So if you have 1,000 enrollees and only 100 licenses, only 100 enrollees can be tracked at any given time, and the remaining enrollees will have their results tracked once the first enrollees have completed the training and logged out of the system.

Meeting Module

  • Concurrent User: These licenses are indicative of the Meeting Module within Connect, and therefore will enable it. With this licensing, the total number of licenses you purchase will be the total number of users that can be online in a live meeting at any given time, either hosting or attending a meeting. These licenses do not have to be assigned or applied to named individuals, they can be generalized. However, the concurrency principal described above is still relevant in this case. This model works as a “licensing pool” per se.
  • Named Host: These licenses are also indicative of the Meeting Module within Connect, and therefore will enable it. With this licensing, a Named Host can host a Connect Meeting at any given time of up to 100 attendees. The licensing model itself refers to a named, specific user (cannot be a general login) that is in the Meeting Hosts System Group. For instance, if you purchase 15 Named Host licenses, you have the ability to place up to 15 people in the Meeting Hosts System Group. Each of the people in that group can have up to 100 attendees (internal users and/or external users, etc.) in any Meeting Room that they’ve created. Each Meeting Host Group member can run any one of their rooms at a given time and they must be present in the room for it to have full functionality.  This licensing model is best used for frequent usage in Meeting Rooms, or also very adequate for webinars that will not exceed 100 attendees. This is currently the most popular licensing model.

Note: Named Host and Concurrent User cannot co-exist on any Connect deployment, as they are both representative of the Meeting Module

Content Module

  • Content Publish: Also known as Author licenses. These licenses are indicative of Content Module within Connect, and therefore will enable it. This will give anyone placed in the Authors System Group the ability to publish Content to Adobe Connect for on-demand access. For instance, if you purchase 15 Content Publish licenses, you have the ability to place up to 15 people in the Authors System Group.

Note: Content Publish licenses are not applicable in On-Premise Connect deployments, as the Content Module is automatically enabled because the Content will be directly published to your server*

Available add-on Modules for Adobe Connect.

  • Seminar Rooms: Typically used for webinars, large meetings, etc. A Seminar Room compared to a Meeting Room is like an auditorium compared to a classroom. Seminar Rooms are meant to handle a higher amount of connections. They are priced on a per seat basis. For Hosted deployments, there is a minimum of 200 seats, and a maximum of 1,500 seats. Further, a 30 Day Seminar Room can also be purchased and added for a “one off” event(s), and will be valid for 30 days after implementation. The same seating rules (200 minimum, 1,500 maximum) apply for 30 Day Seminar Rooms.

For On-Premise deployments, it is a minimum of 200 seats as well, and there is no set maximum. It is very important to note that the maximum amount of connections into one Adobe Connect Server is 500. If a higher number is needed, an additional Connect Server (or servers, depending on the account’s capabilities, additional licensing, etc.) is recommended for load balancing.

  • Events Module: Also known as Adobe Connect for webinars.  The Events Module will give the ability to create custom landing pages tied to any Meeting Rooms, Seminar Rooms, or Virtual Classrooms. When enabled and configured, the Events Module will automatically register and track all attendees that register for the event itself, and report the data into Connect. The data can then be downloaded for future follow-ups, etc.
  • WebCast: This is another available licensing model/add-on that is for large events (up to 80,000 attendees). Purchasing and enabling this add-on is also for “one off” event(s), and has set pricing for all verticals. WebCast has the ability to manage all facets of large events, from registration, to post-event follow up and all tracking capability. For further information and pricing, please contact your reseller directly.

Feel free to check out the Adobe Connect Homepage, it is a great resource when you have questions about Connect.

If you have immediate questions contact us directly.

Case Study: Listen to the problem & provide the best solution

The other day a call came in from from a customer who had questions about Adobe Flash Media Server and if it would be the right software for their situation. After listening to their questions and exactly what their requirements were, I moved on from there.

As a product specialists, solutions engineers, developers, and trainers, the team here wear multiple hats. So in this case, I put on my solutions engineer hat, and began assessing their needs case.

Their initial inquiry was about streaming Flash based content within their Intranet. The customer was searching for a way to package internal asset videos and SCORM based training content together into one piece that could be uploaded to their proprietary Learning Management System (LMS). He had mentioned that they also had full motion videos, and that they too would like to be able to bring those recordings into the training piece.  He asked about Adobe Captivate initially.

Seems easy enough, right? Give them Captivate.

Not so fast.

This Flash based content was quite complex and not as efficient as it could be. I recognized this as something I could use to minimize the clutter, and streamline the content from start to finish. The quick and easy route to a solution would have been to use Captivate and a couple other software applications. This would have worked, but it wasn’t the best solution. I’m a firm believer that less is more when it comes to software applications. The goal was to make it easier for end users to navigate and comprehend, as well as easier to manage for the content creators.

The solution actually turned out to be pretty simple – I had gathered all of the necessary information, the keywords of SCORM and LMS were a big help, from him and I decided that Adobe Presenter would be a better solution because of its simplicity. LIke any good customer, he questioned the solution & I explained it this way:

  1. Presenter has the ability to import the internal asset videos (already in .flv format).
  2. The full motion videos were already in .swf format, and Adobe Presenter can import those, as well.
  3. Presenter is a SCORM compliant eLearning content authoring tool, so you can leverage its quiz functionality to build the quiz, as well as deploy it to any LMS that utilizes SCORM as its reporting engine.

In the end, this was the solution that the customer ended up using. He appreciated the simplicity factor. And since he had really only been tasked with this project as a result of an employee leaving the company the simplicity was important to him since this wasn’t his primary role. A big win for the customer.

The point of this post is to emphasize just how important it really is to listen to all of the requirements before making any judgments and beginning to endeavor down that solution’s path. There are always multiple solutions to a problem. We help to determine the best solution.

The team at RealEyes excels at proposing the best solution for the situation. We take great pride in being an Adobe Solution Partner and Adobe Certified Instructors.

Looking for a solution to a problem? Contact Us!