New York, NY – (May 3, 2007) – Wimba, the education technology company that helps people teach people, announced today the immediate availability of Live Classroom version 5.0. This upgraded version of Wimba’s virtual classroom creates a better learning experience through collaboration by drawing students and teachers closer together by reducing the isolation that is often felt by online learners and educators. Live Classroom 5.0— which most notably features multi-way and follow-the-speaker video, robust phone conferencing, enhanced breakout rooms, and emoticons—helps bridge the divide between human interaction and technology to ensure that people, not computers, teach people.
Live Classroom 5.0 includes:
· Multi-way video with follow-the-speaker video for automated switching based on voice detection
· Phone-only access that can also be used for teleconferencing
· Interaction with audio, polls, and hand-raising via phone
· Enhanced breakout rooms
Live Classroom’s new follow-the-speaker video ensures that the attention of educators and students is on the speaker, not the technology. Live Classroom uses a voice-activated switching method to automatically display the video image of the user who is speaking. Therefore, educators and students need not worry about interrupting the natural flow of discussion to request the focus of the video display, thereby resulting in a perfectly choreographed video experience.
“The new features of Wimba’s Live Classroom 5.0 will radically change the way in which we run online programs and probably distance education in general,” said long-time Live Classroom user Chana German of The Lookstein Center, the Virtual Home of Jewish Educators. “The human touch that the video component offers—giving faces to formerly anonymous instructors and participants—is going to help us nurture an authentic and personal learning community.”
Live Classroom’s new phone conferencing features allow both instructors and students to speak and listen to audio, raise their hands, and respond to polls all from only a phone. Now, without ever logging in to a computer, participants who are unable to get to a PC or Mac, are having hardware problems, or lack reliable internet connectivity can still participate in live, collaborative online classes and meetings.
Further, with the addition of emoticons and enhanced breakout rooms, students can more easily give feedback during a live class and can even meet among themselves with full presenter privileges.
Finally, as with previous versions, Live Classroom 5.0 integrates so thoroughly into course management systems (CMS) such as ANGEL, Blackboard, and Moodle, that it practically appears as a native CMS tool, thereby making it extremely easy to use.
As evidenced by its new features, Live Classroom continues to be developed for education. By creating phone-only access, this new release of Live Classroom remains consistent with Wimba’s emphasis on developing accessible products, whether for the hearing and visually impaired or for students in remote locations with poor internet access or antiquated hardware.
“Live Classroom has always focused on teaching and learning and this latest version makes it even easier for students to feel as if they’re part of a tight-knit learning environment,” said Tommaso Trionfi, CEO of Wimba. “Student outcomes come first, and we believe our multi-way video will allow students to feel more connected and subsequently learn more from one another. We hope our new phone-only access will further ensure perfect attendance for every student, our emoticons will allow students to more freely express themselves, and improved breakout rooms will facilitate deeper discussions.”