Web Conferencing Service

Project Team Membership

Joe Antonioli, Academic Technology Group
Bob Cole, Digital Learning Commons at Monterey
Petar Mitrevski, Media Services
Sean Morris, Office for Digital Learning
Mack Pauly, Media Services

Project Description

Middlebury is investigating alternative web conferencing services for remote work, collaboration, and online learning. Our Adobe service provider will be discontinuing their education pricing for Adobe Connect licenses, doubling our costs. Services with comparable features are available with enterprise licenses at the same cost.

What will happen to Adobe Connect for 2016-17?
Adobe Connect at Middlebury will remain as an option for distance learning until the end of June 2017.

What services are being considered?
The current options with the most comparable features are WebEx, Vidyo, Blue Jeans and Zoom. Webex and Vidyo are features in platforms being reviewed for a Unified Communications initiative. Blue Jeans and Zoom are stand alone web conferencing solutions.

Update: October 11, 2016
The primary services under consideration are now Zoom and Blue Jeans. Vidyo was removed from the list of services after a cost comparison review. The team decided that it would not be financially sustainable to pursue this option. During the October 4 ACTT open meeting, we conducted a round robin feature comparison review of our current platform, Adobe Connect, and the three remaining platforms: Webex, Blue Jeans, and Zoom. Approximately fifteen people participated in the round robin session in which we spent approximately 15 minutes entering and participating in virtual meetings to discuss usability and features.

What is the Unified Communications (UC) initiative?
The unified communications initiative being led by Middlebury ITS is researching vendors to replace the current phone system at the College to enable VOIP (network-based) telecommunications. Webex and Mitel are being reviewed for this service; each offers a bundled web-conferencing solution that could serve as an integrated solution to complement the proposed replacement of VOIP phone system at the College, while also benefitting the Middlebury enterprise. Zoom is not being reviewed as part of the UC initiative, but will be considered in the review of replacements for Adobe Connect.

How can we be part of the testing of these services?
The project team will be conducting a round of usability and feature testing with the four web conferencing platforms in early October. Based on project team and extended ACTT member feedback, we will next be scheduling demos of two final candidate platforms which interested members of the Middlebury community can attend. Each of the services being considered offers freely available accounts. Full features demo accounts may be requested by contacting Middlebury Media Services staff: Mack Pauly or Petar Mitrevski

What features are being considered as important during the reviews?

  • Video (computer)
  • Audio (computer)
  • Audio (phone)
  • Chat
  • Private/host chat
  • Screen sharing
  • File upload / presentation
  • Mobile app
  • Different levels of access (participant, presenter, host)
  • Breakout rooms
  • Whiteboard
  • Integrated polling
  • Annotation
  • Presenter only area
  • Recording

How can we use Adobe Connect for classes during 2016-17?
Contact one of the following people and they will discuss your request to use Adobe Connect for synchronous web conferencing and for integration with your Canvas site:

  • Joe Antonioli
  • Bob Cole (Monterey)
  • Bill Koulopoulos
  • Heather Stafford
  • Amy Slay (Monterey)

What will be the end result of this investigation?
Based on feedback from the ACTT and pilot users, a recommendation will be made to Media Services on a preferred platform.  Media Services will then take that recommendation, as well as feedback from our own internal investigation of technical capabilities and architecture, and make a budget request for FY17/18, consulting as necessary with the leaders of the unified communications initiative / phone project.

What is the timeline for the recommendation and possible adoption?

The project team will begin to draft a recommendation in mid-December 2016 with a goal of completing the recommendation by mid-January 2017, in time for FY18 budget funding requests.

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