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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Elluminate Wins Silver for Best Advance in Technology for Virtual Classroom, Training, or Conferencing

Elluminate, Inc., the leading provider of web, audio, video, and social networking solutions for 21st century education and training, won a coveted Brandon Hall silver award for technology excellence in the Best Advance in Technology for Virtual Classroom, Training, or Conferencing category.  Elluminate’s win was announced on Thursday, April 29.  For a complete list of winners, visit  www.brandon-hall.com.

The Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning Technology Awards are presented by Brandon Hall Research, one of the leading research firms in training and development.  The Learning Technology Awards program showcases innovations in the products in the marketplace for creating and managing learning, talent, and performance.  The entries were evaluated by independent judges around the world.

Flagship product Elluminate Live!® was evaluated on the basis of features and functionality, ease of use, and unique differentiators.  A virtual environment optimized for learning, Elluminate Live! enables teachers and learners to interact and collaborate in real time to add synchronous content to asynchronous distance learning or combine blended online/onsite learning activities, all while reducing travel-related costs.

“These outstanding tools and systems propel the learning profession forward,” said Brandon Hall, Ph.D., chairman of the Awards program.  “These innovative products let customers make learning faster, better, and easier.”

“Receiving this prestigious award validates Elluminate’s strengths in the eLearning, online collaboration, and web conferencing arena,” said Elluminate President Maurice Heiblum.  “For almost a decade, Elluminate has focused on the needs of educators and learners.  Our unique approach facilitates instant communication, continuous collaboration, and learning that is accessible, personal, and meaningful.”

About Brandon Hall Research
Brandon Hall, Ph.D. is the CEO of Brandon Hall Research and author of the ground-breaking “Web-Based Training Cookbook.” Since 1992, Brandon Hall Research (www.brandon-hall.com) has been providing independent research reports and expert advice on using technology in learning. Brandon Hall Research conducts Awards programs each year to recognize the best in innovative learning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

VenueGEN offers 3D virtual meetings

For those of us looking at replicating the feel of a face-to-face meeting as much as possible, VenueGEN’s new app might be the key. Instead of focusing on shared content—as with current web-conferencing apps such as Elluminate and Adobe Connect—VenueGEN seeks to develop immersive, engaging shared experiences.  The controls are aimed at replicating the real-world experience of sitting in a meeting room along with the unique online experience of sharing onscreen presentations and having private back-channel conversations while watching a public presentation. According to Rafe Needham from CNET, “Webex features include screen-sharing, markup tools, text chatting, and the like. Virtual screens (movie screens, TVs, and laptops) in the virtual space are used for sharing computer imagery.”

The program is built on a gaming platform but is definitely not a game or a virtual world like Second Life. VenueGen is a world of 3D rooms including a coffee shop table with 5 seats or even a university lecture hall with 46 seats. inhabited by human-appearing avatars with photo-mapped faces of you and other meeting participants. There are no cameras involved. The 3D avatars automatically start moving their lips when participants talk and participants can set their mood (which controls body language and facial expressions).  Positional audio give clues as to where other participants are located and the system tracks where everyone is so your avatar is pointed and “looking” at another person when talking.

VenueGEN boasts a low learning curve for participants—just click on the link in the e-mail. Needham concurred that learning to use the app was simple and fun. However, he also indicated that one of the drawbacks of the program was that setup was tedious and that users have to upload three plain photos of their faces from different angles to get the avatar to resemble them accurately.

VenueGEN is currently only available for the PC—no Mac or mobile versions yet. VenueGEN  says they are in development. Not sure what kind of PC is required for a smooth virtual experience since I use a pretty up-to-date machine.

Right now VenueGEN is offering a 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are based on number of participants in each meeting.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Play Games That Give to fight hunger!

Games That GiveTM are now available on The Hunger Site. Play fun, free, classic games and fight hunger at the same time. The more you play, the more funds you raise for the charity partners to help the hungry. There are currently more than 20 games available.

How does it work? Games that GiveTM provide some of the most popular "casual games" of all time. The games contain sponsor advertising, and 70% of that advertising is donated to fight hunger. 

Everybody wins! The Hunger Site's charity partners get funding to help the hungry, sponsors get good advertising, and you get to play fantastic classics like Solitaire, Gems, Snake, Memory, Sudoku, and more. 

Check it out: play to fight hunger today! Don't forget to also click everyday to help fight hunger.