Using Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect is used all the time for summer online Comp 150.  It is also available (not required) to suppliment office hours in regular face-to-face classes.  An alternative for small groups is Google Hangouts or Skype.

Computer setup

In any case you need for each class

For our summer synchronous sessions a large screen or dual screens will be handy, so you can both see and read a good sized copy of a what I am distributing from my machine and work in your own environment at the same time.   My personal setup is a laptop, using its screen and also attached to an external monitor.   Such a setup is not required at all, but it can definitely be handy.

Details on Adobe Connect

The Adobe Connect website has lots of help videos. The ones below are most important for the way we will use the software. I make comments after most links, explaining extra related material that was not included in the video.

  1. You will participate in meetings. See

    http://tv.adobe.com/watch/learn-adobe-connect-8/attending-a-meeting/

  2. You are likely to want to show an application on your computer to others. It is important to see this in the video, because participants cannot see the process of the presenter setting this up in Adobe Connect!  You can see

    http://tv.adobe.com/watch/learn-adobe-connect-8/sharing-screens-and-applications

    The video does not show it, but the very first time you try to show your screen to everyone, you get prompted to download a plug-in.  Accept it, and after 10-15 seconds, it should be done, and you can go on with sharing your screen.  Once you have the plug-in, this step does not need to be repeated.

    You have to stop sharing your screen before someone else can start showing theirs. To quickly switch into showing your screen, you should have the application you want to show already running in the state you want to show, and then you can quickly select it . If you have a large enough screen or two screens, you can have your application running beside the Adobe Connect window.

    Do not assume everyone has as big a screen as you. Make your application windows large enough to display what you are showing, but not be enormous. Otherwise your winodw will be squeezed to fit on the screen of others, and your text is likely to be hard to read.

    The top left of the share pod shows whose computer is being displayed. If somebody else is controlling the keyboard and mouse, that is also indicated in the upper left.  (We won't use that feature much, I expect.)

  3. For working with a partner remotely, Google Hangouts or Skype work in general.  This allows audio, chat, and screen sharing.  Both require accounts and login.

    For summer online class, Comp 150 has a special deal: You can use the same software used in class, Adobe Connect.  When you log into connect.luc.edu, you are all hosts for a number of rooms.  Pick one not occupied by another pair, and you can work with your partner.  We will go over accessing these rooms in the first night's class.

Other Comments on Using Adobe Connect

Sound and Noise

You disrupt the meeting if there is much background noise.  This can be from being in a noisy place.  Another big issue is feedback from your speakers.

You will need a microphone and and speakers by the first class and a place to use your computer where you can talk freely.  It is also essential that your speakers do not feed back into your microphone.  This can always be avoided with decent earphones. The earphones are not essential on a computer that has an excellent feedback cancellation circuit: so what comes out of the speakers does not get fed back into the microphone.  Modern Macs have such a circuit.  Many Windows machines do not and then earphones are required.  Have the proper equipment ready for your first class.

Finding a quiet place is very important.  It is most convenient to leave audio on for all participants. If you are forced to be in a frequently noisy place, then you can turn your audio off, but then it is annoying to switch it every time you want to speak, and if you forget, we can’t hear you or we get disrupted by a racket!

As soon as you enter a meeting, you see the Meeting drop-down menu in the top left. Select the drop-down option Audio Setup Wizard and follow it all the way though and make sure your speakers and microphone are functioning at a decent volume.

You get to control the overall speaker volume on your machine. If everyone sounds loud, adjust your system speaker volume. If one isolated participant sounds loud (or soft), ask that person to adjust her or his microphone volume.

Crashes

Adobe Connect has bugs. It freezes or crashes occasionally. If that happens, quickly close the meeting window and reenter the meeting URL in your browser. It should not take long, and you should not miss much. Unfortunately this can also happen with the instructor, too. Be patient. 

The Notes Pod for Passing Code

I plan to have you all as presenters in my meetings, which means we can all write in the same Notes pod.  We could use a Notes Pod for coding.  Maybe we will occasionally, but the editor is not designed for Python, and you cannot directly execute the code.  A more likely use for one Notes pod is this:   Someone who has been coding and maybe running code while others watched and commented, can quickly trade off, by select all the code, copying and then pasting into the Notes pod.   Others can then select all in the notes, copy, and paste into their own program editor.  Then another person can let everyone else watch as s/he adds the next steps, with oral help from the rest of the class....  This approach is certainly a possible one for pair programming in a meeting of your own.  We will practice.

Meeting Ettiquette

  1. Take the steps discusssed above under noise to minimize background noise.  Background noise is cumulative.  With a full class it can be a real obstacle!
  2. Make a comment in the chat when you
    1. join the meeting
    2. leave the meeting
    3. step away from the meeting
    4. return to the meeting (after stepping away or after a crash)
  3. Get used to the sequence for showing your screen, so if we want to switch and see your screen, the transition to what you want to show us is quick.
  4. Though a meeting with audio can convey more than pure text/IM/Chat, still remember that without full visual feedback, you can be more easily misinterpreted than in a face to face meeting.  Think about what you say and how to be constructive. But don't be shy!

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