NOTE: In this article, I discuss Adobe Connect (and other online collaboration solutions) available at IU. In order to get an account to use Connect at IU, you must be faculty or staff.
For those not in the know, Adobe Connect (or, as the official name goes, Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional) is a web browser-based online meeting and conferencing solution. Adobe Connect, like competitors WebEx, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft’s Live Meeting, is a platform for real-time meetings, collaborative sessions, presentations, and demonstrations.
We are fortunate enough at IU to have several technology options that support collaboration from a distance: Oncourse, Unicom and Live Meeting, and Adobe Connect. Sometimes, however, more choices means more confusion – especially in the computer realm! From my perspective, here are some reasons why you might want to choose Connect over another option:
- It’s easy to include non-IU people in the meeting or conference
- It’s also easy to include people who use Linux or Mac systems; as long as the participants have a computer, a broadband connection and a modern web browser, they should be able to participate in a Connect meeting.
- A meeting room in Connect is always-on and not dependent upon IU’s schedule
- Connect allows meeting hosts and presenters to:
- create polls
- use their webcams and headset mic
- share their computer desktop or applications running on the desktop
- provide files for participants to download
Here’s a screenshot of the software:
The Upgrade and New Features
In early May, IU will be moving to the latest version of the Connect software, version 7.5. Some of Connect’s new features will not be utilized here at IU, so I’ll just mention the ones IU will support.
The upgrade will provide:
- PPTX support: The current version of Connect only supports PPT (Microsoft PowerPoint 2003) files. With Connect 7.5, PowerPoint 2007 and 2010 files will be supported as well.
- PDF support: Currently, to display a PDF, a presenter has to share their desktop and have the PDF open. Not only is this inefficient in terms of bandwidth, but it also makes it difficult for meeting participants to be able to mark up or edit a .pdf’s content.
- Secure desktop sharing: When using Connect, it is possible for the presenter to allow participants to take control over her/his computer. This can be useful for troubleshooting and collaboration, but also has obvious security issues as well. In 7.5, presenters have much more control over which applications are screen shared and opened to participants.
- Editing and downloading of meeting recordings: The current version of Connect allows meeting presenters to record meetings; the only problem is that the recording has to stay on the server. With 7.5, it will be possible to edit the recording on the server (for example, to remove the first ten minutes of a meeting where there wasn’t anything happening), and also download the recording to your desktop for backup. Be aware, however, that the downloaded recording will be lower quality than the version on the server.
For more information about Adobe Connect: