Tag Archives: collaborative

What’s with the (Virtual Class)Room Setup?

Dr. Jenny Dearborn, the CLO at SuccessFactors, an SAP company, recently posted her point of view on an often neglected aspect of instructor-led training: the room arrangement. After all, the environment has a big part to play in how people learn in the classroom.

Now, how about virtual instructor-led training or even completely self-paced eLearning experiences?

How do you design learning from an environment perspective for virtual classrooms or eLearning? When you can’t physically arrange chairs, place computer monitors, mobile devices in strategic places to foster discovery and conversations, what do YOU do as an instructional designer and instructor?

Please comment below!


Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-06-21 09:52:05). What's with the (Virtual Class)Room Setup?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 24, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/06/21/whats-with-the-virtual-classroom-setup/

Storybird – Beautiful Collaborative Storytelling

Storybird is a powerful collaborative storytelling platform. One of its strongest features lies, of course, in the collaboration with other authors. However, it is also important to emphasize its library of creative artwork which can be incorporated into the stories created. Authors can choose from a wide range of illustrations when looking for creative visuals for the stories they’ve already written or simply looking for inspiration, a visual from which to start a story.

Check it out the video tour:


OneSentence – Stories Told in One Sentence

I came across this interesting website called OneSentence which, differently from microblogs like Twitter that has users post so many meaningless updates most of the time, lets users share stories in once sentence only.

Would be a nice experiment for a Reading class, for instance.

Also visit Ficlets, which allows users to create stories collaboratively with feedback, sequels, etc.

Adobe Offers Collaborative Text Editor and Web Conferencing Tools for Free

Big news: Adobe is giving something away! Might be just while in beta, they don;t really state the latter on their website. But they do say it is FREE.

The first free Adobe product I just discovered is Acrobat Buzzword, an online collaborative text editor or word processor (think Google Docs). While way ahead of the competition in the visual aspect of it with a stunning look and feel (Adobe standards) very intuitive and attractive interface that uses many “transition” effects from screen to screen. It is way behind other products of the kind in the functionality aspect. Some basic options are still missing on Adobe Acrobat Buzzword like being able to organize documents into different folders. Also, the formatting menu doesn’t offer many paragraph edit options and the fonts to choose from aren’t many. While intuitive, like I mentioned before, the user interface doesn’t follow the standards Google Docs and Zoho Office have tried to follow: creating an interface that is as similar to desktop office suites as possible to take advantage of users’ experience in the latter.

Another tool that is available for free right now is Adobe ConnectNow a fully functioning online Web meeting or Web conferencing tool that requires no plugin install and works very smoothly (again, Adobe Standards). Very aesthetically pleasing interface. ConnectNow works seamlessly with Buzzword so you can launch meetings from within a Buzzword document and collaborate on it with meeting participants. For this product Adobe added features present separately in many other web conferencing services into one product:

  • Unique meeting room URL
  • Screen sharing
  • Video conferencing
  • Chat pod
  • Whiteboard
  • Several integrated audio choices
  • Remote control (great for technical support, for instance).

These products are excellent opportunities for collaborative authoring, especially for online classes and telecommuters. Again these are products with Adobe’s standards but are free of charge.

Sun Microsystem’s Project Wonderland’s Security Levels

In this blog post Nicole invites Timothy Wright, a Ph.D. candidate from University of Notre Dame, to write a post about his research interest in Project Wonderland and Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs) from a security and data storage perspective.

His research project has driven him to come up with different “privileges” and status for users which dictates what files, objects and places they can see and/or modify.

This brings much more relief for companies and academic institutions that plan on adopting Virtual Worlds for learning and collaboration but are worried about data security.

Like Wright says, the advantage of Wonderland over other Virtual Worlds is the fact that it is in its early stages and already considering these issues, which means that these types of functionality will be built in the program and not “around it” once it is already built, which is the case with most Virtual Worlds out there (if they even consider such issues at all.

Nice read.

Gliffy – an Online Alternative to Microsoft Visio for Flowcharting

Well, everyone is talking about Gliffy and I don;t want to be redundant, but I have to give my opinion about it as well. The program lets users collaborate on flowcharts and diagrams online. This is a very good and free (for public documents) alternative to desktop diagramming tools such as Microsoft Visio, OmniGraffle, FreeMind and many others, but with an advantage: besides being online with no extra plugin required, it also allows users to collaborate and co-author flowcharts and diagrams, which comes in handy when participating in some sort of creative process while geographically distant.

Even though the web application is an innovative technology that can not only compare but also outdo desktop applications and is definitely is ahead of everyone else in the online diagramming arena as far as professional look and feel is concerned, Gliffy is still a little glitchy (no pun intended) if not missing features. (I’m sure they will work on this soon.

One of the major flaws in it is the lack of immediate update without attaching a “version number to the file”. There are to bad outcomes of this:

1- If you and a colleague are collaborating AT THE SAME TIME on the same document you won’t immediately see the changes they’ve made to a document. I haven’t tested this on complex flowcharts but I wonder if there will be any conflicts between versions if both save their version simultaneously.

2- If you make any minor change to the document and decide to hit the “save” button, a new version number is attached to the document… So, a freak about saving stuff like me will have a v178 of a document after 20 minutes of editing and saving. ;)

Another catchy thing about Gliffy (and it is part of their business plan) is how they only allow free accounts to create public documents and require users to purchase their premium account for unlimitted documents and the option of making them private.

Competitors can be:

  • Bubbl.us
  • MindMeister – more focused on “mind mapping”.
  • Mindomo – same as above.
  • Mind42 – Another collaborative mind mapping tool that stands out for the array of features ranging from keywords to speed up the process of creation to assigning icons to process and creating image nodes that import images from URLs.
  • Comapping – not free but cost-effective and feature-rich collaborative diagramming solution.

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