As part of my role I’ve been asked to check out some virtual classrooms with a view to implementing one of these as a Cornwall College ‘standard’. There are a couple that have caught my eye – but one that keeps attracting my attention is WizIQ.
I first heard of WizIQ a couple of years ago, and did manage to set up a couple of sessions as a test bed to see just what the application could do. Bandwidth issues meant that my experiments were met with mixed results, and the concept of a virtual classroom was put to bed for a while. A shame, as the *free account and the ease of which a session could be set up were very attractive, as were the features the classroom environment gave: the abilty to share screens, use a whiteboard, share documents and webpages, play YouTube movies and have up to 4 others using webcams (though an unlimited number of learners can attend if using audio only) being just a few that roll off the tip of my tongue!
Having looked again at WizIQ, I notice that it seems to have been rebuilt on a much more robust structure – and is now fully Moodle (1.9 and 2.0) compliant. This means that by simply downloading a plugin and installing it on to a Moodle server, learners can log into the VLE as always, click on a link and take part in an online session that is recorded and, importantly, can be tracked: an attendance report is generated automatically, and a weekly report is sent to teachers looking at how often recordings of the lesson have been viewed or downloaded retrospectively.
Before I make my recommendation as to whether or not Cornwall College should adopt this as the virtual classroom of choice, the best thing to do is to set up a short, informal class that will give me the chance to use and feed back on the experience (from a teacher’s perspective, at any rate). I’ve set up a free, 45 minute lesson to be delivered next Friday looking at Web 2.0 tools in teaching and learning, and invite anyone with a shred of interest and 45 minutes’ free time to attend -as I would really like some feedback from the learners’ perspective as well as my own. Comments on this blog post from teachers who already use WizIQ would be great too!
(*A free presonal acount with limited features: to set up pay-to-attend courses and certainly to use within an institution, WizIQ does cost a few dollars!)
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