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Blackboard Collaborate Pervasive Throughout NJ Institute of Technology

Hybrid Courses Adopt Wimba

To read the original article in The Vector, click here

By Jamil Wilkins

NJIT is bringing its hybrid classes to life with the Wimba desktop video conferencing application. Compared to basic Moodle forums, where conversations are shared over time,

“Wimba provides real time communication with people in various locations,” said Bill Duelly, Associate Director of Digital Media Services.

Since its pilot run in 2008, when NJIT only had a single room application, Wimba now has multiple virtual rooms for more online lectures. Wimba is great for hybrid courses.

Professors such as Geraldine Milano have given Wimba a try and has stated, “I always like trying something new,” said Milano.

Milano used Wimba in her MECH 234 (Statistics) course in 2009 and MECH 235 (Dynamics) course in 2010.

Wimba allowed her to record lectures and post them to iTunes. Milano’s class of 38 students appreciated the combination of Wimba and iTunes, since it gave them easy access to playing back recorded lectures.

Another feature of Wimba that Milano enjoyed was the desktop sharing application option that allowed her to pull up documents, about the material being taught, onto the screen for the students to read. Although instructor comments were difficult for students to read while viewing the desktop files, the reviving aspect of Wimba allowed the students to chat with each other and clarify any issues.

Wimba uses voice and video that make it similar to a live classroom. For example, students can raise their hands and see each other as they would in an actual classroom. Communication and Media junior, Angel Cruz, appreciated the in-class features when he took his English 333 (Cybertext) course. “I like the hand up system,” he said.

The system helps to alert the instructor when a student has a question or is experiencing technical difficulties.

According to Duelly, Wimba is best used with a webcam and tablet PC. The Center for Academic and Professional Enrichment uses Wimba for math tutoring, where students can use the tablet to draw problems on computer whiteboards that enable students on the receiving end to see them being worked out.

There were 30 Wimba rooms in use in October 2009, which increased to 50 rooms in October 2010. As Wimba grows, instructors are aiming for new ways to use it and have more student participation.

Milano, for example, not only wants more faculty members to learn about Wimba and use it, but she’s interested in using it for the Fundamentals of Engineering Review. An application such as Wimba would make studying for an engineering exam more convenient and less challenging.