Question 24

24. Did you encounter significant technical problems using these tools? If so, please describe.

As for webex, the sound was not big and clear enough. Skype and google hangout had better sound, but Skype is neither free for multiple parties nor has recording function, so we ended up choosing the google hangout. However, for the clearer group-unit synchronous communication, we needed to reserve an individual room with Ethernet per a group and letting students use their own laptop computer and earphone individually. But, sometimes the recording function connected with youtube stopped for some reasons and could not get the sessions recorded.  The recording function was important in terms of my students' Japanese language learning.

Tools We encouraged students to connect synchronously with each other via tools of their choice. We recommended Today’s Meet, Facebook Chat, Google Chat, and Twitter as possibilities but encouraged them to find their own venues. / We also encouraged students to use Skype or to use the telephone. We really wanted them to take their initiative in finding out what tools would be most communicable for them.

A technical limitation was that students needed to be at a video conferencing facility to fully participate in the live class sessions. Students were able to view the live sessions from their own laptop but they were not able to audibly talk to the other students. They could text chat in real-time with the class on Lore.

Having support from SJSU proved invaluable.  Some small login challenges, Skype was glitchy on KGU side due to bandwidth issues.

I was not present during the first Skype session, but my understanding is that everything went well.

It took another month until the technology worked well. At first Skype was only marginally satisfactory, and we had to break up one session and continue in individual groups, as we could no longer understand each other.  To a large extent, it was a matter of increasing the bandwidth of the Skype connection. Perfecting this platform demanded the upgrading of equipment on the TTU side. This included dropping a 1-Gigabyte LAN port into the seminar room and the provision of a 52-inch monitor with a dedicated desktop computer and a freestanding omnidirectional microphone. After much trial and error, by the end of October we established a stable and largely satisfactory synchronous platform, allowing both seminars full and undistorted visual and audio contact during the synchronous seminar periods.

Lebanon has very slow internet speeds and AUB has trouble with bandwidth so Skype and FaceTime often were unreliable.  In those situations students often relied on text based chatting.


No real problems emerged.  Each campus provided the necessary technical support to realize the video-conferencing and all video-conferences went off without any hitches even the final two sessions devoted to students’ PSA presentations.  But some key considerations to course logistics on the Brockport  side did present in ways we did not anticipate. / Because these face-to-face meetings were high stakes, there was some anxiety waiting for the call-in to start for each synchronous class.  This anxiety appeared more American based and reflects  real-time logistical boundaries around course scheduling blocks. American students and faculty having to move to the next class session were variables that made the video-conferencing tight time-wise.  While negotiating a time block and meeting frequency for the COIL course that would accommodate frequent synchronous instruction with an 8/9 hour time difference, we overlooked the limitations of 50 minute class sessions. The frequency of 3 meetings a week seemed desirable because it offered some built in flexibility in synchronous scheduling throughout the semester.  This did prove useful as we bumped around a few of our class meetings together.  But if we were to repeat the course, we would move it to a 75 minute, 2X a week time-block.

No we did not.  UTEP and VU have been collaborating for a number of years now so their video conferencing equipment is very compatible.

No, the connection from Quito was excellent when we used them.

NO, ULPGC : no problem at all.

None of any significance. (NU) / (Griffith) The “Live Chat” function within e-college would not launch for many of the Australian participants who were Mac based. The technical support people at NU and in Australia provided a pathway through the problems and they did not recur. It did however undermine confidence in the system with that initial difficulty.  Fortunately we had encountered the difficulties prior to the course going live so we ran a test session with the students before the first live chat, where we debugged our connections. It did appear to be a Mac related problem, however most film students in Australia are Mac based so this is something to be mindful of in the future. / Professor Burton runs a hybrid face-to-face and online course in Australia with between twenty and thirty external students with live chat sessions where video is supported. This is extremely beneficial in helping to establish a real sense of community. We understand that this was not possible via the e-college system, possibly due to the spread of participants across the globe. / NU note:  Mac and e-college are not as compatible as PC and e-college.  E-college purports to be working on this issue but have never really given NU faculty a satisfactory response.  NU Faculty continue  to bring this to the attention of NU administrators.

Skype wasn’t so much a problem as bandwidth and network stability in Accra.  There were frustrating periods of dropped calls, audio fallout and video freezes.  Even at the best of times there was often an echo in the audio that was disconcerting to users.  The students worked around the problems as best as possible, though it did make it difficult to achieve momentum in discussions.  We explored the possibility of backup network connections, but that proved impossible.

Tech problems were quite rare. For one class session, we were never able to connect due to technical problems. Fortunately, this was a day in which Steven Barnes gave a lecture. We recorded the lecture and made it available to Russian students via internet. For one class session, we had significant audio difficulties. This was more difficult, as it was during a student group’s presentation to the class. Tech support was able to lower the video quality part way through the class which improved audio quality, and the students handled the situation well, but it was not ideal. Otherwise, technical connection of the two classrooms was high quality without significant delays, losses of video or audio, etc.

The low bandwidth at UB made it difficult for students to conduct interview on campus.  Therefore most of them had to conduct their interviews at their home, workplace or internet cafe.

The satellite connection was often very sketchy. In upstate NY, I had recently moved to a new house that had problems with telephone wiring and the DSL connection.  Severe weather would often cause my SKYPE connection to be wiped out. This situation seems to have improved after repeated complaints and visits from Verizon. In my experience last year, however, I often had to resort to texting during our regular SKYPE meetings, because we could not maintain the satellite connection and lost audio and video.

The worst problem was one of bandwidth. Despite both networks being advanced, the UWM network could not handle the simultaneous Skype video conversations. Also, Skype for Windows was quirky during our class-to-class conference call.

We didn’t encounter significant problems. Although, we think it would have been more productive if students connected for their team meeting using their chosen channel. For example, we originally assumed that each teammate (typically four students) would be meeting at their own personal location. The large number of connecting points would necessitate an appropriate technology such as Skype Premium . However, we found that meetings were often conducted between only two computers, one shared by two SUNY Geneseo students and one shared by two MSU students. Therefore, our requirements of having them log on through the SUNY Geneseo Communication Department account and, in turn, necessary, scheduling of meetings, appeared to be unnecessary. In short, we complicated the process.

Well some of us hated oovoo, even if we liked the price.  It often froze and put all sorts of cookies on our machines.  We could use some training on Flash, which seemed to work well with COIL meetings.

Yes. Due to limited bandwidth and design issues, Adobe Connect did not work well for class-to-class sessions (it’s designed for use by individuals sitting in front of their own computers). We did have better success with Skype for class-to-class sessions, perhaps due to the fact that Skype has more servers world-wide than Adobe Connect. The limitations of both technologies restrict spoken communication to turn-taking or speaking one after the other.