Virtual Classroom for Online Classes

Last week, VenueGen demonstrated its beta system for virtual conference at DEMO 2010. It was very impressive and I immediately thought about trying it for my online class. So requested a trial account and installed the system. My object is to test drive the system to see whether it can be used for actual online class sessions.

I listed below some of my experiences and evaluations of the beta system, particularly for online class. I also took a set of Venuegen system screenshots and put them on Flickr.

  1. What I have tried successfully:
    • Created an avatar (but my avatar was ugly based on my photo so I did not use my own photo).
    • Uploaded my files (PowerPoint, PDF, images) and display/project them on the big virtual screen.
    • Used virtual browser and visited many websites.
    • Played YouTube videos on the virtual screen.
    • Used the whiteboard for free drawing.
    • Moved around the classroom with various gestures.
  2. But I did not find a way to:
    • Share my desktop and demonstrate any local software.
    • Copy and paste content.
    • Use a laser point or highlighter to point to certain regions on the virtual screen.
    • Record the class session.
  3. And I did not have a chance to:
    • Interact with students.
    • See if students can use the big virtual screen, and share their work.
    • See if students can work in groups and collaborate.
    • Test the microphone.

My overall impression:

  • The idea is excellent, but as a beta version system, there are a lot of bugs, inconsistencies, crashes, and other usability issues.
  • The system is not really designed specifically for online classes. I found many classroom features missing, some of which are important to have.
  • It is not ready for serious online class use at this time; but I know it got potential.