Monday, April 14, 2003

It's been a while since I've posted about my friends at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) in Toronto.

My wonky -- pretty well every Thursday dans le road (i.e., flying somewhere) work schedule -- has meant that I've missed nearly all this year's 'casts. In fact, I've only been able to join a couple of the live 'casts.

The good news is that the 'casts are archived. Each lecture from the last two seasons -- in your choice of WM QT or Real format, an extremely nice and very rare example of "accessibility" -- to be viewed at your leisure.

In fact the only downside is that the archives don't allow for synchronous chats with the moderator. Chat -- along with slides and audio and video of the speaker all in one interface -- provide a perfect environment for "computer-based" learning.

The fact that they've done it all on an architecture which allows 'casting to audiences connected at 56 kbps makes it all the more valuable.

This semester as a Computer Conferencing Course student at OISE/UT has taught me the value of "synchronous" in the conferencing equation. Synchronous communication approximates verbal communication and lends a human element to proceedings that's otherwise not there.

I've also learned that ensuring all can access the technology being used (e.g., some might not be able to connect at 56 kbps) is equally as important when using "computer conferencing" for education. Of course it's all about "trade-offs" -- where are you prepared to drawing the line when it comes to "system requirements"?

I suggest the KMDI has done a nice job in this regard. Granted not all will be able to connect at 56 k, but it's pretty much a requirement for streaming media. The interface has continued to improve and grow more "user friendly" in the years (a couple preceeding the archives) I've been attending 'casts. ePresence walks you through a wizard-based "system check" once you register. This ensures that you'll know you can "get connected" come game time. You'll be ready to login and join the discussion.

I know I get a charge out of asking questions of the speaker and chatting with the moderator from "x" thousands miles on the other side of the continent.

Drs. Baecker and Moore et al. continue a fantastic job. Well done.

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