Web Conferencing Recommendations

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Web Conferencing Tools

There are many products available providing web conferencing tools. Last semester ITS evaluated the various options and developed the following recommendations for the best tools for Pace University needs. Products reviewed are below:

  • Microsoft Lync (recommended for administrative or out of class collaborations)
  • Blackboard Collaborate (recommended for classroom and academic support collaborations)
  • Web Ex (no longer recommended)

Academic Web Conferencing (Blackboard Collaborate)

Blackboard Collaborate is now available for online and blended classes!

What is Blackboard Collaborate?

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing tool that can be accessed within a Blackboard course shell or from outside of Blackboard. Collaborate is rich in academic features to make the session feel as close to a face-to-face class as possible. Features include an interactive white board, break-out rooms, polling in addition to chat, screen sharing, video and audio capabilities. Blackboard Collaborate sessions can also be recorded for future reference.

Why use Blackboard Collaborate rather than Web-Ex or Microsoft Lync for your courses?

Pace will be ending its license with Web-Ex soon. While Lync is still the best resource for administrative purposes, Blackboard Collaborate offers many more features which makes it better suited for the online/blended classroom. 

How can I use Blackboard Collaborate?

Faculty can easily set up Collaborate sessions within their course shells, under the “Course Tools” section. To receive one-on-one training on Blackboard Collaborate, please contact Samantha Egan (segan@pace.edu)

Administration Web Conferencing (Microsoft Lync)

For Administrative web conferencing sessions, we are recommending Microsoft Lync. It has all the tools and features that Web Ex has with the one major advantage being that the University has a license for all Faculty, Staff, and Students. For Pace owned machines, Lync was deployed back in April. Users can check under All Programs to ensure that the application is available. For personal machines, users are able to go to http://adam.pace.edu to download the software using their Pace credentials. For students looking to meet outside of their regular class session, Lync provides a quick and easy method to collaborate remotely for group projects.

For more information and training on Microsoft Lync, please visit our Microsoft Lync site.

Web Conferencing Accessory Recommendations

To best utilize web conferencing products, we recommend purchasing a webcam and a headset. Our current recommendations are below:

  • Microsoft LifeCam Studio (USB Webcam)
  • Microsoft LifeChat LX-4000 (one-ear headset) or Microsoft LifeChat LX-6000 (two-ear headset)
  • Plantronics Blackwire Headset for Microsoft Office Communicator 2007

Note: Most common USB webcams and headsets will perform with Microsoft Lync. Blackboard Collaborate requires the use of a headset. For the best experience, ITS recommends any Lync approved devices. If you would like to view any other Microsoft Lync approved devices, please click here. (For Mac 2011 devices click here.) 

For those who do not have USB audio devices, you can still conduct screen sharing sessions and use Pace’s phone conferencing system. (We are currently testing phone conference integration into Lync conferencing, and will have details coming soon. If you are interested in helping us test, please contact the ITS Help Desk.) 

Note: It is recommended that users have broadband internet connections when connecting from off campus locations. 

University Chat Recommendations

ITS recommends Microsoft Lync for instant messaging rather than Wimba Pronto, AIM, Google Chat, etc. All Staff, Faculty, and Students have the instant message capabilities readily available through Microsoft Lync.