What’s New in Blackboard Collaborate v11?

Posted by Joey Watkins, LINGOs LMS Administrator and IT Support

Hello LINGOs Members!

You may or may not have noticed, Elluminate Live is now Blackboard Collaborate, and with that is a whole new interface for conducting your online meetings.

  1. New audio/video panel – It now appears at the top of the interface, and includes features such as speaker photo display, easier access to the audio setup wizard, and easier access to your video.
  2. Drop-down menus on each interface panel – These give participants easier access to options for each panel.
  3. Whiteboard/application sharing/web tour toolbar – More easily launch the whiteboard, application sharing, and web tour features.
  4. Page explorer – This feature allows moderators to view thumbnails of the slide deck, rearrange the slides, and includes a private work area.
  5. Enhanced chat – Chat now includes new emoticons, as well as tabbed viewing of private messages, and separate moderator chat.

Your next question is probably, “When do we get this?”  The answer is, “You have it now!”  When scheduling your Collaborate sessions, click the “Default Fields” button on the left.  Then you’ll see the option to choose “v10” (Elluminate Live) or “v11” (Blackboard Collaborate).

To assist you in learning about the new version of Blackboard Collaborate, LINGOs has scheduled four training sessions so far to show you around the new interface.  The participant links to join the sessions can be found in the LINGOs Events below:

We encourage you to set up some test sessions on your own to play around and become familiar with the new version of Blackboard Collaborate.  We will continue to support Elluminate Live v10 through December 31, 2011.  Starting on January 1, 2012 Blackboard Collaborate v11 will become the default version for the LINGOs Collaborate licenses.

Now you may be asking, “Where can I find resources on using Blackboard Collaborate v11?”  We have information available on our LINGOs site at http://ngolearning.org/learningtools/collaborate.  Blackboard also has an extensive support site at http://support.blackboardcollaborate.com/.  There are lots of good resources including a knowledge base, product documentation, and recorded sessions to get you started using Collaborate v11.

FHI’s Pilot Launch of eLearning through a LINGOs membership: process, results, and lessons learned

Guest Blog post by Peter Balvanz
Program Officer, Knowledge Management, FHI, Durham, NC, USA

 In August of last year FHI joined the LINGOs community.  From October 11 to December 11 we conducted a pilot eLearning initiative with four FHI country offices to help inform us in our global roll-out, which we are currently planning.  Pilot objectives included:

  1. Understand value of courses for global employees
  2. Test the course approval process
  3. Manage workflow before global roll-out.

 

Relying heavily on LINGOs staff and website, other member organizations, and a strategic group at FHI, our pilot was deemed a success.  At the conclusion of the two month pilot:

  • 212 staff were batch-load registered to our portal
  • 25% of these staff registered for at least 1 course (52/212)
  • Individual staff requested 4 courses on average at first visit
  • Among courses started (70), 40% were completed (28) during the pilot period (not all country offices started the pilot on Oct 11).
  • Courses generally took between 1-2 hours cumulative time.

 

PROCESS

Aiming to quickly offer courses to country office staff in our pilot, we were able to register staff, and communicate select course offerings through a branded portal within two months.  Several strategies facilitated this accomplishment, including:

1) LINGOs support staff and website – the website generally had answers to questions we had, but if it didn’t, the staff did

2) LinkedIn member and organization support – other experienced organizations collaborated to answer our posted questions, offering advice from personal experience and guidance documents used with their own staff

3) Forming and utilizing a strategic working group representing diverse departments at FHI.

In the case of the first two, FHI was the beneficiary of strong institutional knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned.  LINGOs staff were consistently timely in providing solid support and successfully facilitated beneficial relationships among member organizations.  The advice and guidance documents shared with FHI by member organizations provided an easy-to-assemble structure that enabled a quick release to pilot countries. 

FHI's Pilot Learning Portal

 

 Internally, FHI assembled a strategic working group to develop policies and divide necessary labors.  Our group included an administrator from Knowledge Management; HR representatives; Global Portfolio Management (GPM – country office liaisons) to aid in decisions important to international FHI staff; and IT.   Our decision making body crossed responsibilities to ensure all relevant voices were heard and we could get the most from our LINGOs membership. 

The strategic group sought input from country offices to advertise eLearning, tailor course selections to country needs, and to select countries interested in a pilot.  First, a short survey was emailed to country directors asking them to select courses most relevant to their staff and inquire whether they would be interested in participating in the pilot.  Pilot countries selected were to be diverse in staff size, capacity, and bandwidth, to get a better sense of the wider benefits of courses and challenges.  Learning areas deemed most important across the country offices were used to populate our portal with about 50 courses. Before including in the portal, most of the courses were quickly reviewed by staff from departments represented in our strategic group. 

As our preparation progressed, we wrote numerous template documents, including: Welcome letter to liaisons; Welcome letter for staff to be sent by liaisons; single sheet orientation to LINGOs; administrative roles and responsibilities; and policies and procedures, including screen shots for users. 

Once our portal was branded and loaded with courses, the opportunity was disseminated to staff through a country office liaison selected by the country director.  Liaisons were welcomed through an email describing responsibilities, and followed by a more in-depth phone call.  To encourage greater communication with country staff, we sent three bi-monthly updates and reports to liaisons offering support.  We also arranged one collective Elluminate session for liaisons to share their experiences and to show how to view reports as the country’s Registrar. 

FHI Human Resources Officer in Sudan Rose Obede accesses an online course during the pilot initiative

 

Evaluation and Lessons Learned

Upon conclusion of the pilot, we developed surveys for both liaisons and pilot staff to answer our objectives questions.  Staff believed most courses to be relevant to their jobs, easy to navigate, and easy to understand, but noted that work demands and bandwidth to be barriers to access in some countries.  Staff appreciated the opportunity for development, but desired more public health specific courses.  Liaisons believed eLearning to be a good opportunity for staff development and spent an average of 1-2 week assisting staff. 

Numerous lessons were learned to help guide the eventual global roll-out.  Though staff were informed of a user name and password given to them, many would sign-in as new users, thus creating extra work for administrators to avoid double identities.  Countries with low-bandwidth would get frustrated by courses freezing, a reality that cued us to the need to better advertise courses designed for low bandwidth areas.

Also worth noting for greater context, FHI did not deploy eCornell during the pilot.  Our primary focus was giving access to courses from the LINGOs course catalog.  Finally, we are in the initial stages of promoting Articulate.  We have installed copies of the software on shared spaces in our domestic offices, and have begun promoting the software.  Our next steps include revising our procedures manual, reviewing courses in our portal, and beginning to disseminate the opportunity to a wider audience.

Using voices from afar to lead virtual journal clubs

Guest Blog Post By Bill Powell,PhD, RN, FNP
Manager & Senior Advisor, Clinical Affairs at Ipas

Keeping up-to-date with ever-evolving scientific literature is a challenge for staff in many health-related agencies. For global health agencies, ensuring that staff members are interpreting the literature and applying it to their work is further complicated by distance, time zones, variable backgrounds, perspectives and context. One way we have addressed these challenges at Ipas is by offering virtual journal clubs.

Dr. Sangeeta Batra leading an international journal club from India

Several years ago, Ipas  initiated a Journal Club as a face to face meeting of interested staff, to review recent literature in our field. The topics vary from a focus on a specific clinical question to more general topics, such as quality improvement. Our staff from around the world was encouraged to participate by calling in Journal club creates an opportunity to share recent lessons from the literature, discuss the impact new evidence will have on our program strategies, and keep staff up-to-date with emerging trends in the reproductive-health field. Over time, Journal Club has evolved to a virtual event, held about six times a year, over the Elluminate Live! Platform provided through LINGOs membership.

Dr. Talemoh Dah engages with global colleagues from Nigeria over the Elluminate Live! platform

 

While Ipas has staff in 14 countries, North Carolina-based staff have largely facilitated Journal club during its first years. However, over the past year or so, colleagues from our offices in the developing world have facilitated three of the journal clubs. We believe this is one way to decentralize knowledge sharing, build collegial relationships and increase interest in the journal clubs, while drawing on and highlighting the expertise of our staff around the world. So far, two sessions have been led by colleagues from Nigeria, and one session by a colleague in India.
Each of these sessions has been well received and well attended. Although we have not officially evaluated these sessions, informal feedback affirms that people appreciate hearing from country-based facilitators and enjoy the chance to interact internationally over Elluminate. Likewise, the three facilitators have reported satisfaction and pride in leading the sessions and are interested in doing it again.

Dr. Sikiratu Kailani facilitated a journal club from Nigeria

• In one of the Nigeria-led sessions, the facilitator was unable to maintain an internet/Elluminate connection; the session moderator (in North Carolina) had to improvise and lead the discussion.

 Always have a second person at a different site prepped and ready to lead the session in case there are connectivity issues.

• Staff members are busy and proper preparation for a journal club takes time.

 Work with the country team’s management to ensure dedicated time for the facilitator to prepare and lead the session.

• Country-based staff members are not actively seeking to lead these sessions. This may be due to the time and workload issues, or lack of confidence with either the article’s content or the Elluminate technology.

 Be intentional in matching content with potential facilitators and their context, or ask them to suggest articles.
 Work with the country-based facilitator in prepping/editing slides for the session.
 Have at least one person on the live session with moderator privileges to manage Elluminate so that the facilitator can focus on content.
 Organize Elluminate sessions whenever visiting country offices for trouble shooting, modeling and practice.

• Because our global staff work in many different time zones, it is difficult to find a common time when every country office can participate.

 Offer two sessions of the same journal club in order to accommodate various time zones. For example, we usually offer one session for the participants from the US, Latin America, and Africa, and then offer a second session which includes the US support staff, the presenter, and participants from Asia.

LINGOs Fall 2010 Quarterly Update Webinar

We’re bursting with excitement and have lots of great news and resources to share with members at our Quarterly Update Webinar  on Wednesday Sept 22.

Even if you are planning to attend our Fall Member Meeting (please register by Sept 27th if you haven’t yet!), this quarterly update has news and resources from LINGOs that you won’t want to miss, and that will not be covered at the October 6-7 Member Meeting in DC.

Get the inside scoop on the following topics and more:

  • Need more Elluminate licenses? We’ll shed some light on what we have available to members that can extend this valuable resource

 

  • LINGOs partnerships to Build Project Management Capacity in Southern Africa, Haiti and Latin America: Get an update from Eric, Roger and Mike, who are now in South Africa and Haiti getting this work up and running!

 

  • Want custom-developed eLearning courses on your content but don’t have the budget? It’s not too late to get in on the action of the eLearning Global Giveback. We’ll tell you how!
  •  

And last, but definitely not least…

This year’s meeting will include an “unconference.”  Please think about the topics you may want to share that are not yet on the agenda, as well as those that you want to hear about from others!

We’ve put together some items on the agenda that we know you want to talk about (you’ve been discussing them on LinkedIn, at the virtual coffee break, and talking about them with LINGOs team). But, there’s so much more.  This year’s member meeting is partially developed as an Open-space or UNconference event. Participants will define the topics at the opening session in which we’ll use Buzan Learning’s iMindmap tool (which is available to LINGOs members).  To prepare:

1.       What do you want to learn from other members? This year’s meeting will include an “unconference.”  Please think about the topics you may want to share that are not yet on the agenda, as well as those that you want to hear about from others!

2.       What do you have to share with others? Please bring examples/samples of materials and resources you have developed or are using to promote learning in your organization. We will have two 20-minute sessions where participants can view and interact with each other to share and learn about each other’s resources.

 

Mark Weds, Sept 22, at 11 am Eastern on your calendar for the Fall 2010 Quarterly update: and check the Events on www.LINGOs.org for additional events already on the calendar (some have registration deadlines right around then!)

Welcome back to the LINGOs Blog

We are back from our sabbatical from blogging. There are lots of great things going on at LINGOs and within the LINGOs community of international NGOs and we’re exploring new ways of sharing the news. As you read on, you will see that we are expanding the scope of this blog to include news on many LINGOs topics, and not limiting the blog to Learning Tools.

Our goal is to post a new article every two weeks about new products, resources, and ideas that LINGOs member organizations can and are using to build the capacity of their staff delivering global development, relief, conservation and social justice programs around the world. We are working to adjust our systems so that blog posts will be sent out in an email to anyone who is already signed up for announcements and events on the LINGOs website, and anyone who signs up for a feed from here.

We will continue to post links to relevant LINGOs events and announcements as part of a discussion on the LINGOs group. As of today, there are over 170 people in the group with discussions ongoing including:

• resources for global cultural fluency
• mentoring for younger staff
• courses for the eLearning Global Giveback
• eGames for Change
• Oxfam’s mid June conference for international NGOs on eLearning.

We are also going to fine tune our webinar offerings to maximize this valuable “synchronous” time where members are together in voice, if not in person, for discussion rather than presentation. You tell us that you value the webinar format and we know that you are very busy. We also know that if you miss a webinar, most people would rather get the information through reading or watching a quick Jing! than sitting through a recording of a longer session that was designed to be interactive with participants who were there in “real time.”
We will focus webinars on Quarterly Updates for members (the first one is scheduled for Tuesday, June 8 at 11am Eastern time – that’s 8am Pacific time and 4pm in London). Click here for details, including Login link.

We are also working to schedule more presentations by experts in the fields of learning, measurement, and more. If you have suggestions for vibrant speakers, please send them to Marian.

Additionally, we’d love to continue to support member interactions via webinar. If you are working on something you think is of interest to other members, or a topic that has generated great discussion on LinkedIn (such as building content on global cultural fluency, hint, hint), please contact Marian. We may be able to set up a session in our new Elluminate “big room.”

Please keep in touch with LINGOs with comments, questions, suggestions… you can reach us by email, phone, skype, LinkedIn, Blog comments, and even… in person!

Here’s some of our travel for the next month and a half:

Date Location LINGOs staff member
June 2-4 WASHINGTON, DC Eric
June 11 – 19 THAILAND Eric
June 14-18 BOSTON Marian
June 14-15 NEW YORK CITY Mike
June 16-20 OXFORD, ENGLAND Mike
June 21-25 LONDON ENGLAND Mike
June 26-27 NEW YORK CITY Mike
June 28-30 BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON DC Mike
July 15-16 WASHINGTON, DC area Marian

Next blog will be posting on the 2nd eLearning Global Giveback. We look forward to seeing you at the June 8 quarterly update webinar!

Happy Learning!
– Marian

marian[at]lingos.org

Three Options for Recording Elluminate Events

Most LINGOs members know a lot about Eluminate and are aware that Elluminate Live sessions can be recorded and played back.   The record and playback capability enables those who missed a session to view it at their leisure and allows the creation of sessions to be delivered asynchronously.  All of the audio, video, public direct messages, polls and quizzes, whiteboard content and annotations, multimedia, as well as every shared application in the main room, is recorded and played back in perfect synchronization.

What most people don’t know is that there are three options for recording Elluminate Events:

1. Recording events to the Elluminate Virtual Conference Recording (VCR) Library:   Supervisors can choose to record their sessions and they will be stored automatically to the Elluminate Virtual Conference Recording (VCR) library.  These recordings are stored in a proprietary format known as Virtual Conference Recording (VCR.)   They are configured to play using the Elluminate Live interface and the file is streamed to users, so playback may begin when a small portion of the file is received.  These files are highly compressed and are designed to play well in low-bandwidth environments.   This option, however, has several downsides:

a.  The recordings are only accessible on-line and cannot be viewed by users without internet connections;
b.  The recordings cannot be edited and they are only available in a propietary format that requires a Java plug-in to view
c.  The recordings are resident on the Elluminate site and cannot be shared  or embedded in other content or on other pages

2. Transfer Elluminate VCR Files to the Elluminate Publish Format:   Elluminate Publish! allows users to convert Elluminate Live! recordings into formats that no longer require a web connection.  For example, using this application, you can create standalone recordings that can be sent to your learners around the world via CD-ROM, e-mail attachments or loaded as files to your intranet – no more wondering whether your user in Swaziland has the bandwidth to view your session recording off of the server.   Elluminate Publish! Allows users to create a standalone multimedia recording that preserves interactiviry or a video file in a variety of industry-standard formats: AVI, FLV, MP3, standard MP4, high definition MP4, OGG, VORBIS, Wav and WMV.

One of the many ways that the Elluminate company supports the work of LINGOs member agencies is by providing access to Elluminate Publish! licenses at the considerably reduced prices. For more information, visit the Elluminate Publish! section of the LINGOs website.

3. Transfer Elluminate VCR Files Using Camtasia:   Users can also convert their Elluminate Live recordings using the Camtasia Studio or SnagIt applications.  The Camtasia application allows users to convert the file into a format so that it can be edited, combined with other recordings and indexed into a SCORM-compliant format.  Like the Publish application, the Camtasia product can output a number of different formats, including: AVI, SWF, MWV, MOV, FLV, RM and GIF. For more information on how to use Camtasia to convert Elluminate recording files, visit the following link

Many LINGOs member agencies who would like to transfer their VCR files into other formats, but who would prefer not to complete the process in-house.  In these cases, agencies can contact LINGOs for assistance.  LINGOs provides fee for service assistance to member agencies who would like to transfer VCR files into other formats.  Contact mike(at)lingos.org for details.

Integrate Teleconferencing in Your Elluminate Live! Session

Elluminate has released version 9 of its Live! On-Line Classroom application and it has added a number of outstanding features!  One in particular, is the addition of integrated teleconferencing to your Elluminate Live! session.  Now, when you set up your Elluminate session, you have the option of managing audio via VoIP, teleconference, or a blended approach that includes both VoIP users and teleconference participants!!  (note:  the teleconferencing phone number must be located in North America.) 

I have experimented with the teleconference integration and it works wonderfully!  For those of you who have wondered how to engage a group of training participants in an Elluminate session while they are gathered around a single computer – here is your answer!

If you are interested in testing out this functionality, you must first log in to your Elluminate account and select the button to SCHEDULE A MEETING.   Then, select the button SHOW DEFAULT SESSION FIELDS at which point, you can schedule your meeting, but be sure to select the version choice of 9.0 SLL INT (tip:  once you have selected this version, click the SAVE CURRENT SETTINGS AS DEFAULTS button so that all future meetings default to version 9.0.)

Now you are ready to go!  Elluminate has great support materials that explain how to set up your next session using a teleconference utility.  I followed those instructions and was able to set up a session with integrated telephony within minutes. 

I did, however, run into one snag in getting my teleconference utility to log in correctly to Elluminate.  My free conference call utility requires that I call a number, enter a pin, AND then respond to a confirmation query that my pin number is correct.  Elluminate has anticipated this challenge and has designed a process that allows your Elluminate session to automatically navigate through a multiple code input sequence.  The guidance to solve this challenge is not immediately “findable” on the site, so I am linking to the support URL hereIMPORTANT:  This support URL  provides the key to working with a number of conference call utilities that require multiple input codes.

LINGOs’ Support Strategy for Elluminate

One of the most popular learning tools employed by LINGOs members is Elluminate Live!  To date, LINGOs members have used the Elluminate on-line classroom to host over 3,200 sessions.  On any given day, staff members from all over the world sign on to learn how to do their work more efficiently and more effectively.  Tomorrow, for example, learners will log in from Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.  Who knows where we will reach in the future! 

As adoption of the tool increases, LINGOs member agency staff have questions about all aspects of the IntraLearn LMS, including:   “What orientation resources can they access?”  “Is there training for Participants? Moderators?” “What usage reports can LINGOs member agencies access?”  “What if I need help troubleshooting?”  “What if I lose my passoword?”

The LINGOs Support Strategy for Elluminate Live provides an easily accessible repository for all these questions and more.  This knowledge base will evolve and expand over time.   Furthermore, if there are any points that are not covered in the strategy, add a comment to this blog post and we will address the topic.

Elluminate New User Video Clip

For two years, LINGOS member agencies have endeavored to make the Elluminate Live Virtual classroom accessible to staff across the world.  During that time, two adoption challenges have been especially significant when promoting the application within organizations:

1.        Ensuring that field-based users overcome their initial apprehension of entering live on-line sessions;

2.       Ensuring that new users have the Java download that is required to participate in Elluminate.

 

Today, I received a note from a LINGOs member agency that quoted an e-mail from an employee  based in India:
“Thank you for sharing this clip. One of the reasons I did not join any session was my hesitancy with the technology. Thanks to this I have run out of this excuse.
J
Looking forward to participating in the next session.”

The e-mail refers to a video clip that had been sent out widely to field based staff which aimed to address both the challenges listed above.  The video clip provides a 5-minute introduction to Elluminate and summarizes everything a new participant needs to know about using the Elluminate Live Virtual Classroom.  The video clip has two clear advantages:

1.       It raises the comfort level of session participants by providing a clear, intuitive introduction to the application – within the context of an Elluminate session.

2.       It identifies a number of additional resources that users can access if they require additional information.

A further advantage of the video clip is that it requires the Elluminate plug-in to be installed before it can be viewed.  That means that anybody who has viewed the clip now has the plug-in required to attend an Elluminate session.

So, as you think about the challenge of preparing staff to attend Elluminate-based sessions, keep this video clip in mind.  The URL for the clip can be inserted as a link in session announcements and it can be presented as required viewing for first-time Elluminate sessions.

Playing Video in Elluminate Live!

I have been long aware of a feature in Elluminate Live that allows the facilitator to play video clips during on-line synchronous events.  While the feature intrigued me, I hadn’t found the time to experiment with the feature functionality until today.  While I do not have definitive results from my testing, I will share some of my observations from today’s experience.

During today’s event, I wanted to push out a video clip of debriefing interviews with iNGO staff who attended a recent project manager training in Uganda.  The video clip was large (27MB) and was published in an .mp4 format (one of several file formats supported by Elluminate, including *.swf, *.mpg, *.mpe, *.mpeg, *.qt, *.mov, *.m4v, *.mp4.)

 

I signed into the Elluminate event about a half hour early and uploaded the video file into the Elluminate room.  As I began to upload the file, I received the multimedia warning message displayed in the image below.  While I was quick to close the window, I later realized the importance of the message (more to come on this later.)

 

The 27MB video took about 5 minutes for me to upload to the room (I would recommend that you try to compress your video clips into a smaller file size if possible.)  What I didn’t realize when I first started the process, however, was that each participant entering the room, would need to buffer that content on their machine.  The buffering process started automatically when each participant entered the room and worked without any problems.  However, I recommend that you NOT plan to share a video as the first activity you conduct when facilitating an event, as the video files need a few minutes to buffer (in this case about 3 minutes.) As a moderator, I could monitor the progress status of the video buffering process on participants’ machines via an LED indicator that switched from red to green when everyone’s video clips were loaded. 

So, how did the experiment turn out?  Regrettably, the results were mixed.  The video displayed successfully on three computers, and failed to launch on three others.  Why?  I can’t be absolutely certain, but I am almost positive that the inconsistent performance is related to the warning message I received when initially loading my content – “Participants must have appropriate media players installed to view these files.”

Each of the workstations that successfully launched the video had QuickTime Version 7.4.5 or higher.  Conversely, at least one of the computers that failed to launch the video had an older version of QuickTime Player (version 6.5.) 

On the workstations that launched the video successfully, the functionality was strong (admittedly they had good internet connections.)  The quality of video was excellent, sound was clear as a bell, and there were no latency effects.  The successful examples made me excited about the potential for using video as a facilitation element of Elluminate events.  The caveat, however, is that moderators need to ensure that meeting participants have updated versions of QuickTime Player before they begin the session.

Which leads to the next logical question, “how do I ensure that participants have updated media players?”   Do not assume that passing the Three Step Set Up process found at www.elluminate.com/support/ will ensure that Elluminate event participants have the required media players to access video.  That Set Up process does NOT check the version of QuickTime Player.  Instead, I recommend that moderators share the LINGOs Plug-in test link instead – which will provide a comprehensive snapshot of the workstations Quick Time player plug in.  For more information about playing video files in Elluminate Live, see Elluminate’s Multimedia Playback documentation at:  http://www.elluminate.com/support/docs/Multimedia-Configuration.pdf