ND IVN unveils web conferencing solutions

The North Dakota Interactive Video Network (IVN) is launching two new electronic media services this fall that will provide NDUS faculty with new tools for delivering academic instruction. Both products are made by a company called Wimba and will be available for faculty, students, and staff at all 11 campuses of the university system.

The first product, called Live Classroom, is an Internet-based software program that will provide NDUS faculty with the ability to conduct live classes and office hours with geographically remote students. The system allows faculty and students to see and hear each other in live “virtual” classrooms. It facilitates two-way interaction through application sharing, white boarding, and other tools. Wimba can also be used for training programs or meetings involving university-system faculty, staff, and administrators.

“Live Classroom nicely fills the gap between traditional videoconferencing services and asynchronous, online instruction,” said Jerry Rostad, director of IVN. “It’s an ideal platform to see and hear individual students real time, whether they’re in rural North Dakota or half way around the world.”

Wimba’s second software program, Voice Tools, is designed to increase interaction of online education through audio and voice interaction. Voice Tools promotes vocal instruction, collaboration, coaching, and assessment. Features of Voice Tools include the ability to send voice /audio emails, post audio announcements, convert audio to podcasts, and use audio in discussion boards or chat.

“We’re seeing increasing demands for electronic media in the classroom,” Rostad said. “Voice Tools provides a variety of ways to use audio to enhance teaching and learning.”

The decision to purchase Wimba was made after IVN led an extensive review of web conferencing products this past spring. Representatives from all campuses were invited to participate. One of the key features of Wimba was its less restrictive licensing arrangement. Users and campuses will have unlimited access to both Live Classroom and Voice Tools, rather than alternative, metered services.

A second strong feature of Wimba was its ability to integrate with course management software. Wimba currently integrates with Blackboard and WebCT, which is used at seven of the 11 NDUS campuses.

For more information regarding IVN and the Wimba deployment, contact the main IVN office at 701-777-6354 or e-mail Jerry Rostad at jerry.rostad@ivn.nodak.edu.