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Enhancing Online Communities with Voice and Webcams

Week 3

A TESOL Online Academy session
October 27 to November 23, 2003

Workshop Leader: Vance Stevens, Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates:
Our YahooGroup:

Portal: Meet the participants | See where we are in relation to one another's time zones | Session overview | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Scheduled meetings |

Week 3 Nov 6 -Nov 12, 2003: Voice

Goal for the week: to get engaged with our voice chat tools during this week

Based on reaction from community members, Vance set these guidelines for setting up chats:

With regard to location, it is important when setting up chats to have some redundancy in where we might potentially meet. We frequently encounter situations where someone can't get in a voice chat on a given day (due to Internet conjestion, or because they're working from a computer behind a firewall. We also get messages from people who are having trouble reaching tapped in. So here's what we do:

The next step is to put each other on our YM buddy lists. Another requirement for successful chatting is that BEFORE the day of the chat you visit the appointed sites and let your computer download the plugins. Some voice plugins can take ten minutes to download the first time you use them, and you don't want to get bogged down with that right at the appointed time of your chat meeting.

Finally, on the day of the chat, you will launch your Yahoo Messenger and go to Tapped In. Possibly you will see others in your group at Tapped In and if anyone is having trouble or has forgot the URL for the voice chat they can reach you via Tapped In or when they see you pop on their YM.

Then you go to the voice site. Hopefully everything will work and you'll be happily nattering away in no time. If it doesn't work for you or someone else, there are at least two other ways to get in touch and sort things out.

And ... we DID it, or at least some of us did ... on Tuesday Nov 11 we successfully got Luis and Linda in Ohio, Laine in New York, Vance in Abu Dhabi, and Maria in Australia together at Tapped In and then in Yahoo Messenger where we launched voice and Vance launched a web cam seen by at least two of us. Yahoo was a bit flaky, crashing on Vance, and then telling us people were in the chat when they weren't so we had more than the usual problems getting the chatters together. But eventually we got there and got stable, and then we decided to go to the Alado GLD VII chat room that Vance would use on Nov 16. Everyone shut off Yahoo voice and loaded the plugin and we all managed to reach the Alado room with minimal difficulty and hold a pleasant conversation. Soon some had to go to work and others to bed, so we disbanded, after happy success. Here's one of my pics of the session:

From Luis, Nov 10, 2003

Today I went to the Alado portal home page and was able to exchange a couple of words with George (that was his name if I remember well). I think he was there to answer any questions and/or direct you through. I learned how to disactivate the Ctrl key so I do not have to be holding it down all the time I talk. Very simple: While in that site, just go to Files and click on disactivate Ctrl. Well, I try again tonite Sunday. Thanks for the info. you have given us so far. I have tried the voice chat from Yahoo Messenger but it has not been quite that productive since it seems that I am just talking to an empty space. Sometimes you hear someone very clearly, they respond but then they disappear. And of course, I get lots of those unwanted messages, spams, and the like. Talk to you tomorrow, hopefully. Luis ...

Hi, all I went again to the site that Vance suggested and voice chatted with the gentlemen mentioned above for almost an hour. All voices were very clear and one of the broke up a bit sometimes because he was using satellite communication. George was in Palm Springs, Lorne in Canada, and Bob in Dallas, Texas. They were very helpful and we talked about teaching foreign languages, Spanish, in this case, and I am amazed at how many possibilities there are out there in cyberspace to explore. They told me I can record sessions and use pictures and sound to post on the Web. They sent me an example of this lady who teaches here in Pickerington, Ohio! I told them she was just 10 minutes away from where I live. To record you need to update Windows Media Players if you have not done that yet. George talked about Chile and then they sent me a map of Chile while we were talking because he has a Chilean friend who lives in the northern part of the country so we wanted to know where it was located. They are going to send me information about GLD. There is a Spanish room available so definitely I will go there that day also. Whatever they send me, I will post it here. Well, it was definitely an exciting evening. It is past midnight now so I will stop here. Talk to you tomorrow at 11pm Ohio time. Luis

From Laine, Nov 10, 2003

Thank you Luis for the Press Release on GLD. I read all about it and then visited the site. Just left the GLD welcome room, where I chatted briefly with Lorn, the first person to hear my voice clearly online. Hurray! He said I sounded normal (not like Charlie Brown's Dad anymore). I found out that the computer automatically tells you it needs to add a plug-in and you just say OK. I made sure it was the vocalize, like Vance said. Then I clicked on enter and went into the Welcome Room. We talked about who I was - our online TESOL course, etc. I also registered to volunteer; not sure what that entails for a newbee, but I'll give it a shot.

I am mainly happy that I have up and running equipment for voice and webcam now and can move to the next stage, which is informing myself about ways to use them effectively. To Vance: yes, you can quote all my stuff; and thanks for the blurbs on the different communities - all is now clarified regarding trees & forest!

To Buth: thanks for your many useful ideas - I followed all the links and found them extremely thought provoking, especially how students can use blogs! Laine

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Last updated: November 23, 2003, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0

(C)opyright 2003 Vance Stevens