We are several weeks into the Change open online course. We have an outstanding speaker list. But, unfortunately, we’ve had issues every week with our live online sessions. We’ve looked at WizIQ, Vyew, and Big Blue Button. All have been terrible failures. So we tried FuzeMeeting today. Another horrible crash and burn. It’s getting embarrassing and frustrating as a MOOC organizer. Course participants and facilitators have been very patient, but even that goodwill is wearing thin after our FuzeMeeting experience today.
In the past, I was involved with Elluminate as a community partner. Which meant that I used their platform for about 150 attendees. With Blackboard’s purchase of Elluminate, that arrangement was cancelled. We’ve tried Adobe Connect, but audio quality has been poor in the past. Elluminate was/is what an online platform needs to be: simple, easy to use, with good quality audio. The platforms we’ve tried attempt to do to much or do it in a confusing fashion. With BBB, for example, you have to login, then actually click an extra button to hear audio. It’s a small step, but it has produced a fair bit of confusion. People enter these virtual spaces wit a sense of disorientation. Each small step can be a challenge. FuzeMeeting has a similar additional step – select various audio inputs before you can hear anything. Do these organizations do user testing? Do they know where newcomers become confused? Elluminate was simple, clunky, intuitive, and remains the best synchronous tool I’ve used.
Here is a rule of thumb for determining audio quality with a synchronous class:
1. Is it written in Flash?
2. If the answer to #1 is “yes”, it will suck
Which is why I was almost excited when we started playing with FuzeMeeting – it uses Java for audio (at least, I’m assuming that’s what the java plugin is used for). We’re going to attempt another session later this week in FuzeMeeting, but given our experiences so far, I’m not too optimistic. Which is why it’s good to see that Stephen has initiated a G+ thread on synchronous classroom options. Any suggestions?