Web Wednesday: Web conferencing at St. Thomas

Web Wednesday: Web conferencing at St. Thomas

From Information Resources and Technologies

Building on Sam Levy's welcome-back article in Bulletin Today, IRT is piloting new instructional technologies for the 2006-2007 academic school year. This offers the opportunity for faculty to experiment with technologies such as Web conferencing, Podcasting and others to discover if these technologies prove beneficial for teaching, learning and communicating.

IRT announces that Adobe (Macromedia) Breeze Web conferencing software is available to faculty and staff. Breeze offers a way to bridge the physical and virtual classroom space by using audio and video, chat tools, and application and file sharing. Virtual meeting spaces can be used for lectures, discussions, tutoring, collaborative workspace, and for a variety of real-time, interactive activities.

There are two components to Breeze:

  1. Breeze Meeting is a Web conferencing application that facilitates real-time (synchronous) communication, collaboration, and teaching and learning. Breeze meetings take place in an online meeting room via a browser. Meeting room features include audio-video conferencing, chat, whiteboard, polling, screen and application sharing, and file sharing. Breeze meetings can be recorded for asynchronous access or review after the meeting.
  2. Breeze Presenter is a plug-in for PowerPoint for recording, editing and synchronizing digital audio. All that is needed to create a Breeze presentation is Microsoft PowerPoint, the Breeze Presenter plug-in, and a microphone or headset connected to your computer. Viewing a Breeze presentation requires only a computer with speakers or headset, a Web browser and the Flash plug-in. When published, presentations are converted to Flash (swf) presentations which can be uploaded to a Web site, into Blackboard, or saved to a CD-ROM.

Some of the ways Breeze has been used across campus are:

  • After an intensive week of face-to-face classroom instruction, faculty in the Health Care MBA program use Breeze Meeting along with telephone conferencing to extend learning to students through synchronous online lectures, collaborative content-building sessions and just-in-time virtual office hours
  • A theology class uses Breeze for lectures and class sessions that use PowerPoint presentations with rich visual imagery and text chat for student-instructor interaction and communication.
  • A faculty member engaged in a collaborative research project with scholars abroad using Breeze Meeting to hold virtual research meetings and jointly author research articles.
  • Breeze is not only used in the classroom. Rather than traveling across town, or even across campus, Breeze meeting is used by IRT, Public Safety and other staff within academic and administrative departments for departmental meetings and seminars.

For more information about Breeze capabilities, visit the IRT Web site. To this tool and find out if it is right for your class, contact your academic technology consultant, the IRT Tech Desk at IRTHelp@stthomas.edu or call (651) 962-6230.