Well, it’s a new semester and this week, I had my first class for “Introduction to Reference Services.” My instructor is a Canadian and she apparently ran into a delay with her Visa, so she couldn’t make it in for our first class. (You know, I’m not really surprised. When I needed my Visa to Canada, I nearly ran into the same thing–though I didn’t get delayed. Our relationship with our neighbors to the north is kinda weird when it comes to Immigration and Customs.)
Anyway, she opted to Skype in to teach us this time. I’ve used Skype socially before, but never in an instructional setting. On the contrary, my instructor for my summer course used Adobe Connect when we had guest lecturers or even virtual office-hours.
Long story short, the Skype experience proved to be almost painful. The connection seemed to time out now and then and her sound would garble on us or just freeze up. It seemed worse when she used video, but even without it, it was rough. I think the longest we went without her having to “call us back” was maybe 15 minutes. When I walked in the classroom, they were trying to get it to screen-share so that she could control her PowerPoint. No luck. We ended up putting the slideshow on our side and one of us students had to work the slideshow from our end. Talk about Band-Aids. Not her fault, obviously, and probably a perfect storm of several factors, but still a pain.
It kind of reminded me of the first time I ever used the Internet to make a phone call back in 2000. Lord knows what the tool was called, but there were weird delays and garbles and it was much more pleasant to just use a real phone and a calling card. We’ve come a long way, baby! Go figure, now we have Voice Over IP phones, which are pretty much the best of both (if you want a landline, that is).
My experience with Adobe Connect almost always went swimmingly. Our guests seemed to have few problems getting set up, with the exception of one whose audio had to be Frankensteined together with a cell phone (I think because of a mic problem on the speaker’s end). Regardless, it was always clear and we didn’t have reconnect over and over. There was even the option for a side-channel chat that multiple users could text chat with in real time. Pretty sure it’s not free like Skype though.
I realize this is a rudimentary, quick and dirty review and maybe I have my rose-colored glasses on, but I just wanted to give a big thumbs-up to Adobe Connect for instructional purposes and virtual presenters. Skype fell on its head for us this week.