Adobe Connect User Community
I would like to invite any K12 educator and/or any Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional enthusiast to The Connect Pro K12 User Group. We try to meet once a month to learn about how to use Adobe Connect Pro to: build a help desk system, host online meetings with telephone integration and recording capabilities, conduct long-distance interviewing for new positions for the district office or school buildings, build online professional development programs, develop online trainings, construct a framework for live recordings of teacher lectures posted to the web for students who are sick or need extra help, create a digital newsletter, design a web presentation, develop software trainings and simulations, collaboration and sharing of expertise beyond school district boundaries. The possibilities are endless when using the Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional toolset. Please come join us online once a month to create some space together for building partnerships, collaboration and learning.
Waiting for Superman
Schools across our nation are facing a dropout crisis. The cost to our nation both in loss of potential for learning, unemployment, government assistance, and becoming incarcerated is high. Creative student driven projects using technology tools provides them with a platform to develop their own voice, a self-concept, a reason to learn and grow and find personal success. The student may get an “A” out of the class he or she has a connection and passion for and carry this momentum of personal enlightenment all the way to graduation. However, many of these same students who find a spark buckle under the load of graduation requirements, academic, career/college, and personal/social challenges while in school. These same students may be identified as students at risk of dropping out, they may need additional school/community interventions to make it through school, and continued monitoring of their progress towards graduation. These vulnerable students may find a strong connection with a gifted teacher in real-time while in the classroom, helping them not fall through the cracks. However, the school system they may be connected with does not have the technological infrastructure and software products to help the whole school staff and the community to identify them at an early age, recommend interventions based in research, and monitor their progress towards graduation. A Superman and/or Superwomen (RIA) developer could be out there to bring real time information to the school system, develop an early warning system, provide a display system to monitor the whole student while in school, and link interventions to research. The idea is to put new innovative RIA applications in the hands of students, school practitioners, teachers, administrators, superintendents, and school board members. Most of our schools are using student information systems that display or report student data as an autopsy. Online standardized grades books may be the closest example of real-time data, but academic student monitoring is only one layer to a complex set of analytics needed to carry out and monitor a school improvement plan. Is the idea of mining data and exporting it into an excel spreadsheet to be real-time monitoring of student progress (graduation requirements, test scores, attendance, behavior, GPA)? By the time someone mines the data and exports it into a spreadsheet and gives it to a school principal, superintendent, or school board member, the data has become outdated. The students may have already dropped out. The frameworks of Ajax and Flex and tools of Flex Builder and CS5 may be the superpowers needed for the next superman and/or superwomen educator. I will keep looking up into the clouds, waiting for an education superhero to bring us a new set of applications that can run, monitor, and alert us in real-time.
A handy tool within the Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional meeting environment is using the “Presenter Only Area.” The red arrow points to the button that turns the “Presenter Only Area” on. Once the “Presenter Only Area” is initiated, a large gray area will frame out the main presentation area. The gray area is found at the bottom and right hand side of the screen and is out of view of the participants. The picture included in this blog shows several meeting elements: clock, simple poll, presenter chat, and timer. The “Meeting Host” can drag each one of these meeting elements over into the main viewing area when needed. The participants will experience these elements appearing out of thin air, like a bit of magic. I like to create a “Presenter Chat” when I am co-presenting with someone. We can have a side-bar conversation without participants knowing, helping keep proper flow and pacing during a presentation. We can alert each other to make the next point, slow down or speed up without talking over each other. Also, I like to stage my presentation material in the “Presenter Only Area” and then drag it over when needed, making an efficient way to use space and time when making important points. I would encourage everyone to turn on the “Presenter Only Area,” and perform a little Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional magic with everyone in the room.
The Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 and Connect Pro can be the perfect pair for some real webcam fun. I was experimenting with my Webcam Pro 9000 and Connect Pro one day and noticed a “Video Effects” panel within the complementary software that comes with the webcam. The “Video Effects” panel comes with five Avatars: Green Alien, Cool Cat, Stripped Velociraptor, Blue Shark, and Stick Guy. My wife is a large cat fan, so I tried on the cat inside the “Camera and Voice” pod inside one of my Connect Pro meeting rooms. The software tries to calibrate your real face movements with the avatar of your choosing. I believe it simulates your face movements enough to give everyone a big laugh and smile on the other end of the webinar and/or meeting you are trying to provide to your participates. The Logitech website has many more free avatars for you to try on. I also like the “Dollar Bill,” maybe next webinar I will show up as a dollar.
Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is not your typical, boring web conferencing environment. One can throw a web conference party, bringing a disco ball and music into the room to celebrate a goal that a school district team has achieved together. The Acrobat Connect Pro Exchange has both free and cost friendly Connect Pro components, basically SWF and XML files that can be uploaded to your Connect Pro Hosted Account. These little extras can perform many exciting effects inside a standard Share Pod. The long list includes: “Talking Stick,” allowing someone to support multiple, high-quality, video streams in Adobe Connect Pro, “Connect Pro MP3 Player,” allowing for an individual Connect Pro user to stream music into their room, “Digital Timer,” keeping people honest in the room who like to ramble, “Connect Pro-shambo,” playing rock, paper, scissors if a difficult decision needs to be made between friends, “Connect Pro Clock,” showing everyone in the room their current time, regardless of the time zone, and “Footprints,” showing Connect Pro users a Carbon Savings Calculator which helps to preserve mother earth. The list is long and exciting, at the same time, one can go even further into the depths of becoming a Connect Pro Evangelist/Rock Star by accessing a pay site like, Flash Componets.net. One can purchase cheap, but stylish SWF files that can bring up the cool factor in the Connect Pro Meeting Room. So, instead of putting some “Bling” on for your next web conference meeting, well, try on some “Flash.”
The project with one of my math teachers at Olympia High School is going very well. At the beginning of the school year, I helped him learn how to use a Connect Pro Meeting Room from our hosted school district Connect Pro Account. I helped him set up a simple “Meeting Room” he could open each morning when he decides he wants to make a recording of his math lectures in front of his students. He just needs to open up the “Meeting Room” each morning before teaching his class and launch the software that integrates with his Smart Board. The Smart Board comes with software that displays the Smart Board image on his desktop. I can imagine other educators using peripheral technologies like a Wacom Tablet to be able to pull of the same result of recording a screen share of a computer desktop displaying a run through of a math problem. I provided him with an extension cord for his USB Headset so he could walk around with ease in front of his students. Basically, he opens a “Meeting Room,” begins a screen share and recording of his desktop, then guides the students through math problems while talking into his USB headset, and then posts the URL attached to the recording of the math lecture to the school website. The strength of using Adobe Acrobat Connect Profession is the ability to do a synchronous recording of the math lecture. Once the math lecture is over, there is no need to spend another thirty minutes uploading a media file to a server. The recording is ready for viewing on the web at the very moment the teacher stops speaking to the students. This technology tool could not be any more efficient and effective for a teacher to use in the classroom. The students really appreciate having the option to go to the school’s website and review any lecture that was posted by the teacher.
Virtual Math Lectures
My Connect Card
Adobe Education Leaders
A colleague of mine at school became stressed out about a project. She is volunteering for our School Counselor Association, working with a group of college/university professors on a publication project. She was going to meet with them during one of her work days far from our home town. She got behind at work and become extremely stressed out about leaving her family and students for almost two days across the state. She observed my strategies of getting up early in the morning, doing an Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro Meeting session from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. with my own colleagues before my work day. Then a light came on for her, she came to me and asked for help with her situation. I asked her what problem she was trying to solve. She explained how she was in charge of collecting information on each section of the publication the higher education teachers where producing to explain their admission process. Each section of the publication needed to be analyzed by the group and edited for revision. I emailed her an Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro Meeting Room URL and told her to send it out for an online meeting. I decided to help solve her challenge by creating multiple chat rooms labeled with the same headings found in the admissions publication. Each chat room was a bucket ready to be filled with the recommended revisions from the higher education group. I turned on the “Presenter Only Area” within Connect Pro and staged each chat room off to the side, ready to be dragged over into the “Participant Viewing Area.” The meeting began, all of the professors were impressed how organized she was by dragging each chat room over into their view. They would fill the chat room with their recommended revisions for each section, and then she would drag it off and drag the new one into view. This process went on for about an hour. At the end of the meeting, all of the professors and my friend were back at their jobs, in their geographic locations, working with students and not missing hours of work time. Finally, she just needed to copy and paste each section from the chat rooms and dump the information into a Word Document to send to the publisher. Once again, the technology of Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro came to the rescue.
One of my good friends from Adobe showed me this cool little trick using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Basically, anyone can create instant web based content by pressing “Print Screen” on a keyboard using a PC; I am not sure what the same function is on a Mac. Next, go to the “Create” menu item inside Adobe Acrobat Pro and select “PDF from Clipboard” and Voila! Your screen capture will appear inside Adobe Acrobat Pro as magic. Once the screen capture is inside Adobe Acrobat Pro, there are several cooler operations one can perform by using “Add Sticky Note” found within the “Comments” menu item and “Comments & Markup” under the “Tools” menu inside Acrobat Pro. The sticky notes can be helpful when adding comments to a particular section of an article or web page for review. The mark-up tools can be used to highlight or point to a section of content that should be emphasized. At the same time, one can published these screen captured PDFs to an Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional account or upload these PDF files inside a “File Sharing Pod” inside a “ConnectNow” Meeting Room at Acrobat.com to be viewed or shared by others during an online session. So, go ahead and try this cool, tech trick and let me know what you think?
My Connect Card
I remember vividly now. I was preparing for my K12 Connect Pro User Group Meeting. I was excited because I dialed in my content for the meeting. I had three computer screens filled with multiple Connect Pro Meetings. I was ready to dazzle my audience with the Acrobat Connect Pro Software Architecture, File Sharing Pods, Polling Pods, and Shared Content. I began to chat with someone online with me before the meeting. We both realized he was over on the next saltwater inlet over from where I lived. I thought what a small world I live in with some many people. I looked up and notice the wind was really blowing, the water was churning with white caps on the water in front of me. I thought to myself. It would be a real bummer if I was online with all of these people, being the leader of the group and would lose power. I made a joke with my new friend, “well if I disappear from the face of the earth inside Connect Pro it is because I lost power.” He joked back with me. The time approached and I realized I had more people in my session than ever before. I reached out to my friend at Adobe who is a Connect Pro expert and invited him to jump into my session as backup through an email. I saw someone from NASA even join my session. I began my session. I had a great flow going with my audience. I was having a blast and the wind kept pounding through the trees in front of me. Then it happened, a large tree went down in my neighbor and zap, the power was gone. I had a UPS, but my internet connection was toasted. I ran down to my garage and pulled out my generator. I thought if I was back within five minutes maybe people would not notice I was gone, you think of real dumb stuff in the middle of a crisis. I fired up my generator, switched over my switch box and I was back online with power. I ran upstairs, tried to fire up my computer. The computer can back online, but my internet connection was still toasted. I decided to blog about my experience to turn a “Lemon” into “Lemonade.” I have realized now that anytime I am doing a large event, I need to have backup. I would encourage everyone to have someone who can second as “Host” in your Connect Pro Meeting Room. The person should be in another state or region if you think a natural disaster may occur during your session. If I had planned it right, my friend Bruce would have joined my session. I could have promoted him as “Host” before the session began, then when I lost power, he would have notice I was gone and would step right in and continue the meeting. The trick to this strategy is that I would have had someone in a different geographic location where a power outage would not influence the outcome of the session. You live and learn, giving me another great Connect Pro war story to my collection.
My Connect Card
Acrobat ConnectPro User Community is a great community site which is free and a place where you’ll find a wealth of resources that will help you learn the technology and connect with others who are passionate about the Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional Suite. The site is broken down in five main sections: Community, News, Events, Learning Center, and Forums. The Community section offers User Group management, connecting you to others in your geographic or industry, a Member Directory, Community Gallery where you’ll find Adobe Presenter Presentations, recorded Connect Pro meetings, Partner Showcase, and Spread the Word. The News section offers the ability to Subscribe to the News RSS Feed to any News and/or Blogs that are happening within the community. The Events section alerts anyone to upcoming Meetings, Seminars, and lists an archive of past records of key meetings and presentations. In addition, the Learning Center contains tutorials, topic of the month, Connect Pro Extensions, and Additional Resources. Finally, the Forum section allows for the ability to community members to post important information, announcements and events. I started Connect Fridays for the Adobe Education Leadership Program and now have moved over to manage a monthly ConnectPro User Group meeting for K-12. Please join me every third Thursday of each month, 11:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time to learn about the ConnectPro suite. Everyone is invited! Meeting URL: http://www.connectusers.com/groups/k12/events/389/.
My Connect Card