I had the opportunity to be shown around both Second Life Adobe Connect yesterday. I think there is potential in SL, but, how complicated it comes across as! I think the potential technical issues associated with having a class learnings on SL for the first time would put them off. I like technology but, boy, did it come across as complicated. Participants need to haveaccess to a reasonably new computer. Perhaps because we were being an overview of what it potentially could too I was getting TMI. I think it is a great (and free) tool where learners in dispersed locations can meet up and chat synchronously. It offers affordances that synchronous chat such as Skype can’t. I like the fact that you can move, do things with your hands, see who you are talking too (avatar), interact with the environment; you get a sense of immediacy (Woods & Baker, 2004) . You can also be your alter ego in the form of your avatar which might encourage shier learners to participant. I suppose you shouldn’t think of it as trying to replicate F2F communication or as an alternative to DTVC; it is something in its own right and I can see the potential for teaching, but it would take quite a bit of time to develop the skills needed to teach/learn in SL.
I was instantly impressed by Adobe Connect – by far the best DTVC tool I’ve come across. Just being able to see all the faces of my fellow students (for first time) and tutor via video really helped me feel connected to them; there was a real sense of immediacy. There were breakout rooms to facilitate group work. There are various “pods” where the teacher can poll the students, present documents, use a whiteboard and assign learners to breakout rooms with tasks for that particular group to undertake. There was very little delay between the sound and image and the quality of both was excellent. There were 6 of us altogether so it was easy to see all the participants via video. If there were 10, 12 or more students the size of the video images would be reduced so that they could all fit in the video pod. So far, the closest to a F2F classroom that I’ve come across. This would be an ideal tool to have at the beginning of an online course as it really facilitates the building of a community of learners, connectedess and social presence.