A powerful virtual classroom: Adobe Connect 8

I’m always cognizant of what Ellen Wagner (formerly with Adobe) said while writing about web conferencing technologies around the time Blackboard bought Wimba and Elluminate and combined them to create Blackboard Collaborate (for edu-types, I’ll insert the ‘muwhahahaha’ just for you). Ellen said, “let’s be very clear. Adobe in not an elearning company. It is a software company.”

This might be why you’re likely to see more reviews of Adobe Connect 8 for web conferencing/meetings than for its use as a virtual classroom. While Adobe is one of the largest software companies in the world and, while they do have a large share of the virtual classroom market, it is my experience that they’re not the first response you’ll hear when asking corporate L&D folks which virtual classroom they use. I think Cisco/WebEx has that honor. (I’ve always thought of WebEx as a borderline verb in the corporate sector, i.e. “doing a webex” or “let’s do a webex.”) My point is, Adobe Connect 8 should be seen as a powerhouse virtual classroom.

Adobe, of course, is no stranger to corporate e-learning. If you’re creating online learning I am willing to bet you own Captivate or perhaps Presenter and use them to create solutions we know as “rapid e-learning.”

Among corporations, the virtual classroom market is huge both in adoption and size. Research from Bersin & Associates indicates virtual classrooms are the most widely adopted learning technology in corporations (use increased from 45% in 2008 to 60% in 2009 Bersin notes). The giant umbrella that covers the market is huge. Frost & Sullivan forecasts the “web collaboration” (web conferencing services and software, web events, remote support) will reach $4.5 billion by 2014. And that number probably doesn’t include all uses (like the VC). Not chump change.

I attended a demo with a colleague on October 26. The video conferencing integration blew me away. The interface was ‘just right, just enough’ and I didn’t feel the 5 seconds of panic I normally feel when one hands the presenter controls to you. My colleague said, ‘this seems light years ahead…’ and I couldn’t agree more. I believe it will further cut into the amount of training hours we do in the face-to-face physical classroom. When we used video conferencing to join a room in India, I was just thinking wow, no more crowding around the old TV on a cart in the conference room.

I need to play with it myself (vs demo) before writing up a proper review (if you want to try it, here’s the link to a free trial). Meantime, here’s a edu review from Christopher Dawson, ZDNet, Adobe Connect 8 s the cure for wall-o’-laptop woes and distance ed and one from the Journal (also edu-focused), Adobe Connect 8 Improves Accessibility, Expands Collaborative Tools.

Also interesting to note…Vidyo has a “personal telepresence” plug-in using Adobe Connect 8 Collaboration Builder SDK. Yowsa!

Adobe is in the software business. We’re in the training business. We should all be happy about that.

(The screen prints below are the standard ones Adobe sent at release.)

Interface designCollaboration SDKVideo conferencing integrationMobile app
(I receive nothing for writing this post)

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