Thursday, September 06, 2012

Live Streaming Test Results


UStream recording of our Bocce match

Our results focused on the following:
- How aggravating was it to set up and administer
- How aggravating was it for the end-user to access and watch

We didn't really worry about the participation piece - but I made comments on that anyway.
Because I know someone will ask.

Blackboard Collaborate 12 - We have been using Elluminate v10 and decided to test the most recent version of Blackboard Collaborate.  Better video streaming and audio quality than prior versions - by a lot.  I wouldn't wish video conferencing in Elluminate v10 on my enemies. The user needs to know how to expand the screen.  Otherwise, they are going to be looking at teeny tiny people in a small window. At least until we can figure out how to auto-expand the window for the viewer in the new meeting interface.  The built in interactivity features are still available.

Biggest bonus for us - it is currently our main web meeting tool, so we won't have to go through the security process.  The other thing we like about Blackboard Collaborate is that we can more easily limit who can access the live meeting and the resulting recording.  We were also familiar with setup and sending meetings - so we can't really comment on the learning curve for video-meeting administration.

The Blackboard Collaborate 12 UI is very different from Elluminate v10 and requires some getting used to.  This slowed our test setup down a bit. 

UStream - I played with this at Innovations in eLearning 2012.  Not bad with my netbook and cheap webcam.  This time, we had a nicer (larger) laptop with better multimedia cards and (slightly) more stable wireless.  On the broadcasting side, the video was choppy.  However, the viewers reported that everything seemed smooth and audio/video quality was decent.. Chat and social streams are available, but they are awkward to get to in the interface.

This would be best used for things that you want to be fully public and where you don't really care about interaction.  I know our HR team is planning on using this service for some of their Service Excellence keynotes.  There are limits on free UStream (100 viewer hours) and they are more aggressively marketing the paid services, so we need to keep an eye on that.

Google + Hangouts - We looked at Google+ Hangouts since Google is adding the Google+ features to the enterprise services.  Great for 12 person conversations and meetings.  Not quite appropriate for the application we were considering. Setup was a little awkward through the Events feature in Google +.  Straight Hangouts is interactive via video chat.  Didn't see other types of collaboration.

I will also admit I am not very good at using Google +, so these comments may be reflect a PICNIC (problem in chair, not in computer) error vs an application design flaw. 

Craig Wiggins was kind enough to join us at the beginning with his Android.  He reported that video and audio quality was pretty good (for a cell phone).  He also made us jealous by joining us from the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.

A couple of features we didn't test: the "Hangouts on air" feature that would have been closer to the application for this tool that we are considering and the collaboration features through Google Drive.  If our organization decides to turn on enterprise Google +, we will investigate these features further.

Our in-house testers said that audio and video quality were good.

Update: I talked to Ben Fielden in person after he posted his comment. When he is talking about above the line vs. below the line, he is talking about what we have purchased (appears in the administrative interface above a line) and the stuff that they want us to purchase (stuff below the administrative interface line).  So if you wonder why your enterprise IT is not terribly excited about implementing that cool new feature you get for free, ask Google.

ooVoo - A non-starter.  Requires a download that also adds one of those aggravating toolbars to all of your browser windows.  No one could get into the link, and even if they could, I wasn't in the position to answer the phone.  A pain to set up. thank you.

I'm going to send the results to the rest of the team for next steps.

Again - this will be an ad hoc, temporary recommendation while we get our official, formal solution for this type of thing set up.


Ben Fielden said...

Also - just for wider knowledge - while Google is indeed making Google+ part of their enterprise package of offerings. It won't be covered by any negotiated terms and so is 'below the line' as one of their consumer services. They haven't announced any plans to change that, making it somewhat of a non-starter currently for some organizations I imagine.

Wendy said...

Likely ours too. I guess we will both be keeping an eye on this.
(Full disclosure - Ben is the manager of our Student Help desk, so he's intimately familiar with this test)

@teejaygee said...

I like how the sound precedes the video. You ought to record a thunderstorm and show kids how thunder really does come before lightning :-)

Wendy said...

Personally - it's the ads that make it for me ;)