Archive for November, 2008

WebCapTel for the Hearing Impaired

Sprint is offering a great new service called WebCapTel for the hearing impaired and it is completely free.  The hearing impaired person would initiate a call via Sprint’s Web interface by entering the telephone number of the person they would like to call.  The Sprint operator would call the number entered by the hearing impaired person to initiate the call with the other person.  The Sprint operator would provide captions on the Web interface of everyone the other person says so the hearing impaired person can have a telephone conversation.

We have found this especially useful with our virtual classroom that we use for our courses.  The operator can call-in to the class (with the optional dial-in telephone number) and caption everything that is being said within the classroom.  This has helped us move forward with our accessibility improvements.  Due to the fact that it would cost several hundred dollars an hour for a company to provide live captioning for our online live sessions, this has provided a great alternative.

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I found a new Web 2.0 tool that is pretty cool.  It is a free virtual classroom called WizIQ.  You must create an account to be able to use the virtual classroom, but it is free.  You can create meeting times and invite other members to attend.  It allows you hold live meetings with audio and video.  It also has a text chat area.  It allows you upload content that will show up in the content area for everyone in the room to see.  It has a great eBoard toolbar with all kinds of visual tools to use to make annotations on top of your content (very impressed by the amount of options on the toolbar).  It has a tabbed content interface to allow you to have multiple content open at the same time.  It has a large set of math symbols to use as well.  When I tested it with a colleague the audio and video worked very well.

The meetings are archived, but I couldn’t figure out how long the archives would be available for me to view.  There are some other things that would be nice to have, such as application sharing, breakout rooms, and a call-in phone number for users that might not have a microphone.  With that said, for a free application, this is a very nice.  There is a premium membership that you can pay $49.95/year for additional features.

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Does Second Life have a place in higher education?

I have read a lot of literature about Second Life and how institutions of higher education are beginning to incorporate this into education.  It scares me a bit about opening this up to students and makes me wonder how universities will regulate this and what policies to protect the university need to be created.  How much liability will universities have if students are harrassed and what implications will this have for education?  Right now, I have more questions on this subject than I do answers.  I would love to hear from other schools who have instructors who are using this for their courses, such as how they are using it.  Does the university support this (technical support or instructional design support)?  Have instructors run into any issues in using it?

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