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.  The main features we will use are audio and screen sharing.

Computer setup

In any case you need

For online synchronous classes 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

Go to
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all the way through, starting with the connection test and make sure you have the add-in needed to share your screen (which we will use repeatedly).

Follow through

Actually, you will have more rights, since I make everyone a presenter, so you can easily share your screen or make entries in the notes section (or pod as they call it).  If you have microphone issues, be sure to say hi upon entering the "room" through the chat window.

Follow through

If you still are having problems starting or inside Adobe Connect, look through

Sharing Your Screen

We will use this feature extensively.  You can only start to share your screen when nobody else is sharing.  When you click on Share Your Screen, you get a window where you select what to display:  The easiest is the whole screen.  If you happen to have two screens, you get to choose which one.  After your selection, click Share.

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.  The main Adobe Connect window will disappear if you are showing that screen.  In a small part of its place will be a mini-window used to control your sharing.  Though you can see the mini-window on your machine, the screen sharing software is smart enough so it is totally transparent in sharers' view.

Briefly, initially, the mini-window will show a small image of what you are sharing.  Then the mini-window collapses further.  You can toggle between these two sizes clicking the green monitor icon in the bottom left of the mini-screen.  In the larger version you can choose the Stop Sharing button when done.

If you do not want to be distracted by the mini-window at all, you can click on the small minimize icon, near its top right corner, and it disappears.  In this case your manipulate the sharing by clicking on the Adobe Connect icon in the Task Bar (Windows) or tool bar (Mac).  There you can select Stop Sharing when you are done, or it is somebody else's turn.

If you have a large screen and are displaying text, try to make the font large, so someone with a smaller screen, seeing a compressed image, will still be able to read easily. 

Sound and Noise

You disrupt the meeting if you supply 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 less important on a computer that has an excellent feedback cancellation circuit: so most of 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.  If you have two computers in the same location, be sure at most one has its speakers on or you get terrible feedback.

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.


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.  This has extra repercussions if we are set up in breakout sessions (often after a main online class).  When you reenter, you are in the main meeting room, not the breakout room you came from.  I could easily miss this.  A chat comment may be helpful.

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 code, 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 their shared screen 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. 

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!

Working in Pairs/Teams

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

For summer online class, Comp 150 has had special deal: You can use the same software used in class, Adobe Connect.  When you log into, you are all hosts for a number of "rooms".  Pick one not occupied by another pair, and you can work with your partner.  If you put anything into the chat or notes, be sure to clear it before leaving the "room".  Remind me to go over accessing these rooms in the first night's class.

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