Friday, March 21, 2008

Free Synchronous Webconferencing

While organizing the Canadian E-Learning Conference for June of this year, you are all going to come, right?

... I have run across a free web conferencing system that we are exploring using at the conference to provide live access to the presentations by the online participants. It is call WiZiQ and the URL is at

Besides being free it has the following features that I like:
  • It only requires you to have Flash Player installed to use it and most everyone has that already, how else would you watch your programs. This also eliminates the majority of the problems that users have using other systems that require propriety software to be downloaded and installed.
  • It records the sessions in Flash format so they can be viewed afterwards with just Flash Player.
  • It appears to have all of the functionality of the other systems and it very simple to learn to use.
  • There are also features for sharing content files and having tests online.
  • it is Free, did I mention that already?

We have been doing some testing and it seems to work very well, is there anyone reading this that is using it? Please let us know how it is working for you.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

ASUS Eee PC Sub Notebook

I now have one of the new ASUS Eee PC units to try out and I really like it. They can purchased from Memory Express or from The Source by Circuit City starting as low as $299. I now have the 8GB model for $499. A student pointed out that I can double the RAM from 512 MB on the 4GB model to 1GB by replacing the RAM chip for a $25 1GB chip.

I have also found a couple of interesting sites that help you to learn more about this unit:
This is the machine I have been waiting for, because:
  • It is small, light weight and inexpensive.
  • It is Linux based and liberates me from MS.
  • It comes with Open Office installed which I am getting to like much better than MS Office.
  • It is designed to be a portable Web browser. I now use more Web-based apps than installed and this would work great for me.
  • It is flexible, you can change the software on it, add SD Memory and it comes with 3 USB 2 ports.
  • This also would be a great computer for my daughter, who is in grade one. It is easy to use, durable and comes loaded with lots of software.
I find this unit is a lot easier to pack around then my laptop and so I tend to take it to more meetings for note taking and access the Net. I have also hooked it up to my 17" LCD monitor and it works great set at 1280x1024 with an external mouse and keyboard.

Earlier in March, Asus announced that they are coming out with a 9" screen version in June (the current version has a 7" screen) that will come with 1GB or RAM and 8 GB or 12 GB of SST Hard Drives. Not only is the screen better but the resolution on it will be 1024x600, while the current one is 800x480. As best that I can tell, the size the unit is only slightly larger.

If you have one, let us know by posting a comment.

Quick Media Converter

I have been hunting for a free video converter for a long time now and have finally found one.

Quick Media Converter, is a free very powerful video and audio conversion tool. Converts to and from most formats including : FLV, AVI, DIVX, XVID, MPEG, MPEG2, MP3, Real Media, TS, Quick Time, PSP, Ipod, Iphone, WMV, VCD, 3GP, 3G2, M4A, AMR, H264, and H263. It also allows you to record videos or take pictures from your Web cam or DV Cam flux, in avi format and convert it to any format you want.

Included are two users mode - Batch Conversions Mode 1 for all users: Easy intuitive includes standard conversion settings to allow users to convert without having particular skills. Mode 2 Advanced: For skilled users allows more flexibility and more specialized conversions. Access to where if registered for free you can upload and share your converted videos and pictures (free 2 Gigabytes). Converts to and from mobile phones. Converts all FLV files or Youtube Daily motion Break. Captures and records Web cam and DV Cam flux (video and sound).

Works with Windows 98/NT/2000/XP/Vista

Thanks for Dave Flynn for passing this along to me.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Blackboard Next Generation

From the Canadian Blackboard Users Group online conference yesterday, I learned some interesting announcements coming out of Blackboard. Of course this is after the court case ruling in Blackboard's favour in the patent suit against Desire 2 Learn.
  • Blackboard classic version 8.0 was released last Fall and this Spring Vista and Campus Edition (former WebCT products) version 8.0 will be released. These editions are not much different then proceeding versions but this action will synchronize the version numbers of the three products.
  • The real interest part of this is that Bb is promising the release of Blackboard 9.0 before the end of 2008. This is the Next Generation edition that will have significant differences from previous version AND this is the version that finally merges the two former WebCT products with the classic Blackboard product. From the little they showed of the mockups, this product will have a whole new look, feel and new features. The timing of this release means that many schools will be testing this release out in the first half of 2009 and considering upgrading to it in the Summer of 2009, or not.
  • My jury is still out if this is good and bad news. The new is good in that now we know what is planned. But could be bad because most schools may not be able to afford the new product. It promises to deliver all of the Web2.0 functionality that we are looking for but it seems to me that most of these features will be distributed in the suite of modules that Bb offers. At most schools, they just run the one core module and can't afford the extra modules.
  • I have a meeting with a Bb representative this coming week so I will raise these concerns to him and report back here.