One Case Western Reserve University student lives on campus. Another one commutes from Akron and works an unusual schedule. Meanwhile, their fellow classmate will be out of town for a few days. They've been assigned to work on a group project that's due in a week.
Should they keep rescheduling their project plans until they're all able to be in the same location?
With Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro—a web conferencing/collaboration platform being offered by Case Western Reserve University's ITS division—they won't have to.
"One of the biggest challenges for students is finding ways to meet to work on group projects. This is especially a challenge for students in many of our graduate programs," said Michael Kubit, director of MediaVision. "With Adobe Connect, people don't have to worry about traveling to campus or even around the campus; they can schedule virtual meetings and be able to see and hear each other and collaborate online."
Faculty, students, staff and alumni can use the program for both live and pre-recorded meetings, Kubit said.
"Adobe Connect features special configurations for presenting, collaborating or discussion. There are features within Adobe Connect that allow individuals to cut and paste their contributions into a paper, a PowerPoint presentation or to brainstorm ideas using a virtual whiteboard," he said. "One of the nice things about Adobe Connect is that all you need is a web-browser; there are no special applications or plug-ins required and all content created or imported into Adobe Connect becomes a unique URL. It's flash-based, so it's cross-platform. It uses very little bandwidth. You can record meetings and they will play back as Flash movies."
Other features in Adobe Connect include the ability to share applications on the desktop, create interactive polls, chats, threaded discussions or to simply take notes.
ITS began rolling out Adobe Connect at the beginning of fall semester. Prior to this soft launch, they ran an open beta throughout the summer, and representatives from each school were invited to a two-day training session so that they could provide support to their respective schools and departments. Kubit said that Adobe Connect has seen steady growth in adoption and includes a good mix of faculty, staff and students.
"Collaboration technology is at the heart of the university's Information Technology strategic plan. Adobe Connect is a robust, scalable solution that combines an easy user interface for integrated collaboration tools," said Lev Gonick, vice president of ITS and the university's chief information officer. "We have thousands of Connect sessions that scale from a collaboration between researchers in two locations around the world to hundreds of people simultaneously viewing and listening to presentations originating here at Case Western Reserve. The collaboration platform allows for both 'live events' as well as the ability to 'store and forward' for later playback. It's as easy as point and click. "
Kubit said the environmentally-friendly component of Adobe Connect is just one of the many reasons he's excited to promote its use. "It aligns with the university's greening initiatives because it affords the potential to reduce the need for travel."
Adobe Connect is open to the entire campus community. Users can get started by going online to set up an account and take the online tutorial. "We're very excited to be providing this new tool," said Kubit. "It's technology that enables us to be more productive by being more collaborative."
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