Otago Connect is a web conferencing system powered by Adobe Connect Pro and it is now being offered as one of the newest IT Services for University of Otago staff & students.
Otago Connect can do more than deliver a distance taught classroom, it can enable you to enhance and present live and online meetings, lectures, tutorials, webinars, interactive training programs, conferences and much more.
The software runs in your web browser and only requires the installation of the Flash plugin, which most computers already have. Features include:
- Group text, audio and video chat
- Ability to share presentations (like Powerpoint)
- Share documents and/or whiteboards
- Share video clips
- Collaborate on a whiteboard
- Conduct polls during your meetings
In Semester 1 of this year a pilot study initially driven by the Distance Learning Office was completed by Information Technology Services, with a small number of Pilot Group members based in Dunedin and Wellington. Participants have provided invaluable feedback about their experience which will help shape how we offer and support the service in the future. One of our academic Pilot participants wrote:
“Otago Connect represents a remarkable new direction in distance teaching: now anyone in the world can partake in teaching & learning sessions. All that is required is a reasonably fast Internet access and Flash player installed.
There is full synchronisation between sound and images that also broadcast in high quality. Movies can be viewed directly off your computer and as the host I can decide if participants can edit, write and draw on the images etc., I can alter the content of my meeting until just before the session and students do not need to have resources sent to them. I’ve been told that the number that can connect is one hundred so I’m dying to test that!
Students have been really enthusiastic about the experience and as a teacher I find it invaluable that I can see all their faces and respond to their expressions, which indicate their understanding (and I can see when they pop in and out)! Sessions can be recorded for those who cannot attend or are called out because they are on call. Last session one of the candidates was snowed in at home but was still able to take part.
Using this service I have successfully taught 17 students all based in different locations, I have also tested the connection from Hong Kong and it appeared excellent. I foresee international teaching will now become easily affordable.
Dr Thorsten Stanley, Paediatrics, UOW
In Semester 2, we are continuing with our Pilot, and we’re offering any staff members at Otago the opportunity to be a ‘Meeting Administrator’ and use Otago Connect for teaching, research or administration. While we are still limiting the number of Meeting Administrators, there are still spaces available. To gain access and run your own web conferences, you must be staff with a University username, complete a request form for a new a Meeting Room, and complete the IT Training course (free for staff to attend).
If you have any questions give ITS HelpDesk a call or, check out the video demonstration on the Otago Connect HelpSite for staff. Find out if Otago Connect really is for you but remember, numbers are limited so get in quick to apply.