Echo360, the company that powers WPI’s lecture capturing technologies, published a press release late yesterday announcing their acquisition of ThinkBinder, an online collaboration tool intended for student project teams. ThinkBinder allows teams to have private, group-only discussion boards, file repositories, whiteboard space, and video chats – all hosted in the cloud – for managing project-related work. This news is hot off the press so we’re not yet sure how these tools will integrate within our existing lecture capturing playback environment and whether the Blackboard (myWPI) extension/plug-in will also be revamped, but we are excited to learn more about this acquisition! See Echo’s blog post here as it includes a great screenshot of ThinkBinder in action.
Speaking of acquisitions… in late fall, Echo360 also acquired LectureTools. LectureTools allows instructors to synchronously share their lectures with students along with the ability to ask polling questions or conduct text-based (from the student) Q&A. While viewing the synchronous material, students can take their own private notes within the application that are saved to their computer/device. At the end of the lecture, the captured material – along with all the interactivity – is available for playback via the link in myWPI or RSS feed (depending on how faculty choose to publish their recordings). Any personal notes that students have taken on the material are synced up to display with the content during playback.
WPI faculty have rolled out some of Echo’s new synchronous features and we will be exploring ways in which we might be able to take advantage of some of the LectureTools and ThinkBinder features in the future. Our biggest concern right now with synchronous teaching and learning tools is wireless bandwidth, especially within larger classrooms where the wireless access points (WAPs) can only handle a certain number of wireless device connections. (Think cell phones, tablets, laptops – students often have many wireless devices connected at once!) Also note that this is not a WPI-specific problem as we are using the latest-and-greatest wireless technologies – other universities also have this challenge!
If you are interested in exploring how you might use Echo360 lecture capturing, LectureTools, or ThinkBinder in your own teaching, learning and/or research, please reach out to us and let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’re always happy to explore new, exciting, and engaging teaching and learning technologies!