HelpAcrobat Connect Pro™
(Formerly Macromedia Breeze Meeting™)

Objectives:
By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:
1.  Identify resources for getting assistance with Acrobat Connect Pro™

2. Log in to an Acrobat Connect Pro™ session, given the URL of the meeting.

3. Identify tips for using  Acrobat Connect Pro™.

4. Choose to use either Acrobat Connect Pro™ or an alternative based on its advantages and disadvantages.


Introduction

There are several ways to engage in real-time multi-point audiovideo sessions. The Blackboard course management system now includes Blackboard Collaborate for this purpose. An alternative to this is Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro.

Macromedia developed Breeze Meeting™, which is a software package for online collaboration. In December of 2005, Adobe purchased Macromedia, and now calls the software "Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro™, though I may refer to it as Breeze Meeting™ at times. There is a sister product called Breeze Presenter, but this is primarily a tool for creating an online, flash-based PowerPoint™ presentation that uses voice-over, and it is not intended for real-time collaboration, as is Breeze Meeting™.

a Breeze MeetingConnect Pro™ lets distributed users collaborate in real time. It included facilities for 1-way audio/video presentation, multi-way audio/video discussion, text chat, sharing the view of a window or application, polling, a whiteboard, and more. It even allows true application sharing, where one user can request control of an application on another user's computer. Although this is a synchronous, real time collaboration, the host can choose to record the session for later viewing by attendees and non-attendees.

For more information on Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro™, visit

www.adobe.com/products/acrobatconnectpro/

Blackboard Collaborate

An alternative multi-point video conferencing software package is Blackboard Collaborate, which is expected to become available to Ball State University faculty in Spring 2012. Those who are interest can learn more from

www.blackboard.com/Platforms/
Collaborate/Overview.aspx

and can contact Ms. Yasmin Tunc in Information Technology at Ball State.

IHETS Interactive

Ball State University has contracted with the Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System (IHETS) to allow BSU faculty to request scheduled meetings using the IHETS Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro server. This service is referred to as "IHETS Interactive."

if you have troubles using the system, run the system check, and see the answers to questions at

interactive.ihets.org/common/help/en/
support/meeting_test.htm

Getting a Room / Account

Faculty at Ball State University may request an Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro room on the IHETS server either for a specific class, a specific event, or an ongoing basis. Please contact Ms. Nancy Day in the School of Extended Education to set this up.

Hardware/Software/Connectivity

The computer you use must have a broadband connection to the Internet. If you are using a wireless connection and experience problems, try switching to a hard-wired connection. Please note that even with a broadband connection, your Internet Service Provider might allow you to download data at a fast rate, but to upload it only at a much slower rate.

In order to hear the audio, you must either have headphones or a speaker system, although speakers sometimes create problems because the sound coming out of your speakers can travel into your microphone, which others can hear. Therefore, a headphone/microphone is recommended. It is possible to participate in a meeting without a microphone, though you will be limited to using your keyboard when you want to make a comment. It is also a good idea to have a webcam, so that others can see your smiling face.

Needless to say, the computer should be rather new and fast, and it should be situated in a quiet room. If you are using a webcam, then there should be adequate light on your face.

Logging In

To log in to a scheduled meeting, you should first know the URL of the meeting "room." Instructors typically are provided this information from the server administrator, and in turn provide it to students.

To log in, browse to the URL provided. You may be prompted to log in, and this can occur in different ways depending on how the host has set up the meeting. Follow the host's instructions. After logging in, rune the Audio Setup Wizard, and if appropriate, "Share" your camera and microphone.

Here are the instructions that were given to those entering a meeting in an online class.

Typical Procedure to Enter an Open Meeting

1. Make sure your team and I have agreed on a time to meet. Take into account different time zones. Unless otherwise specified, Ball State's (Eastern) Time Zone is assumed.

2. Make sure you are at a computer with a microphone and speaker (though a headset is better), and that you have a high-speed Internet connection. A webcam is optional; it would let other see your smiling face. Close other applications that will not be used (rebooting the computer is recommended by IHETS.)

3. A few minutes before the specified time, browse to the following, though not through Blackboard:
http://interactive.ihets.org/r34008557/ [Replace this with the URL provided.]

4. Do not log in here, but in the "Enter as a guest" box click "Click to Enter."

5. Enter your name, then click "Enter Room." If necessary, load any plug-in when prompted.

6. After the Acrobat Connect shell loads, on the top menu click "Meeting," "Manage My Settings," and then "Audio Setup Wizard." Under the Advanced Settings at the end of this setup wizard, you might need to click "Use Enhanced Audio" and to select "Headphones" under Acoustic Echo Cancellation Mode" if you are using headphones. You can also increase the Audio Quality to Best, and make adjustments here to the volume level if needed.

7. The instructor will assign you an access level that will allow you to use your microphone and camera. After this is assigned, you can "Share" your camera or mic by clicking on the small icon on the lower left of the camera and voice pod:

Click on the icon to start your camera or mic

8. To speak, locate the buttons to engage and lock your mic on, which should look like the image below:

Click on the left to momentarily talk, or the right to lock your mic on.

If you click on the lock icon on the right, your mic is turned on and locked, and no one else can speak. This is useful for a presenter who is giving a lengthy presentation. However, for back-and-forth dialog, instead press the left part of the icon that says "Talk" to speak, and when you release it, your mic will turn off, allowing others to speak.

Note: in a recent update, Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional changed the Talk feature so that only one individual will talk at a time. If you want to talk, it is a good idea to either type in the chat window, or to change your "Status" to "Raise Hand," which you can do by clicking the "My Status" link and brining up the following choices:

Tips for Using Acrobat Connect™

Courtesy

If you and other participants have "presenter status," then among the other things you can do is to change the layout of the meeting room pods. However, this changes the view for everyone involved. Please allow the single host to do this, unless you are giving a presentation.

It is also courteous to identify yourself if you have a question. For example, let's say I'm one of several individuals in the audience with my camera turned off. I have a question to ask through my mic. It would be a good idea for me to say, "This is Jim with a question..." so others would know who is speaking.

Additionally, please leave the "meeting room" set up the way you found it.

Muting your Mic

If you are not talking, and you are not a key presenter, then make sure your microphone is set to mute. This cuts down on the noise others hear.

Freezing the Frame

In order to reduce the bandwidth requirement, we can use smaller video windows. It is also possible to click on a button to freeze your smiling face. This might improve audio quality.

Recording

In order for a meeting to be recorded, the host  must click Meeting, and Record a Meeting from the menu. Before leaving the meeting room, the recording should be stopped by pressing the red circle in the top right of the screen.

When to Use Connect Pro™. When to use an Alternative.

Advantages

Connect Pro™ can a terrific tool for collaborative work. Online education is not the same as individualized learning, and collaborative tools allow for a synergy among participants where ideas, resources, and reasoning can build within an online collaborative group.

In particular,  Connect Pro™ can be useful where a series of artifacts (documents, Webpages) should be seen simultaneously by a number of people. Since  Connect Pro™ is a tool for synchronous communications, it can meet a need for many back-and-forth communication events that can occur in a short time, as often happens in group decision making and in question/answer sessions. It also serves social functions, allowing us to see and hear our colleagues, and forming a greater sense of online community. Furthermore, the recording function allows archiving of a meeting for later viewing. So, one might wisely choose to use it for:

  • Question/answer sessions

  • Group decision making

  • Sharing another's computer application

  • Building online community

  • (Creating an archive of the above)

  • Other reasons

Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of  Connect Pro™ are evident if the tool is compared to a face-to-face meeting. Here, the technology can get in the way of interacting. If an audio level is poorly set, if a participant looses the connection, or if the video seems choppy or blurry, we might think this to be a poor substitute for face-to-face contact. There can be a delay in transmission, and this is unfortunate. However, if the participants are in fact at remote locations, face-to-face meetings may not be an option. Time savings by not traveling to those meetings could be seen as a benefit outweighing the disadvantage of choppiness.

Some distributed learners may not have broadband access. Some may lack a camera and a microphone. Others may use a microphone and computer speakers resulting in feedback. Thus, disadvantages can arise due to the technological systems at each remote site. This can be compounded by bandwidth requirements, which are increased as audio and video feeds from multiple sites are used.

As with other online communications tool, there is a learning period in which new users are devoting time to learning the tool rather than to communication. However, this is seen with nearly any technology, and a little extra work at the outset by all can make for efficient use of the tool from then on.

Other disadvantages of  Connect Pro™ appear when comparing this tool to others used for online education and online collaboration. For example, a text-based threaded discussion allows users to organize content by concept (or thread), rather than chronologically, facilitating the ability to delve deeper into an issue without the time constraints seen in synchronous communications and later organization of a discussion's archive based on concepts. The archive created in a threaded discussion creates a text-based archive that can be accessed in a non-linear manner pinpointing the messages of interest by their subject line within a thread, whereas synchronous communications archives are generally accessed in a linear and chronological manner with no indexing by topic.

Since  Connect Pro™ is synchronous, it requires all real time participants to log in at the same time. Asynchronous tools, such as a treaded discussion, empowers those who might not want to take up others' times by being the center of attraction in  a live chat or in Connect Pro™. Generally, in a synchronous communication, one person provides information at a time, which requires others to receive that information at that time. Threaded discussions allow all users to receive or provide information at any time and at any point in the discussion.

Some online collaborators prefer to compose lengthy, well-researched and well-reasoned messages. Others prefer to engage in quick back-and-forth dialog. In general, a threaded discussion may be more appropriate for the former. Thus, the learning style or communications style of each participant may be a factor involved in the decision of which tool to use.

Sometimes, deeper ideas need time to gel, and the fast pace of synchronous discussions does not provide ample time for thinking through an idea. Thus, collaboration using Connect Pro™ may seem shallow when compared to collaboration in a threaded discussion. However, this need not be the case. Prior to engaging in a synchronous discussion, a participant can prepare her or his thoughts and ideas, having more to contribute.

In summary, one might choose to use a threaded discussion rather than a synchronous tool (Connect Pro™ for video collaboration) when:

  • collaborators are not available at the same time;

  • collaborators lack the technology to use the synchronous tool;

  • depth of thought is important;

  • it is important to organize discussions by ideas;

  • references are shared, analyzed, and synthesized;

  • all are to be equally empowered to contribute; or

  • a written transcript or a transcript organized by and accessible by topics is wanted.

The wise teacher, collaborator, presenter, attendee, and student should consider the use of video conferencing tools such as  Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro™ in light of the objectives of the meeting and the nature of participants. Instructional tools should not be used merely because they exist. They should also be used in a critical fashion where the implementation of the tool can be improved through iterative lessons learned in each use.



"Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro™"
All information is subject to change without notification.
© Jim Flowers
Department of Technology, Ball State University