What works best and when : Elluminate or Flashmeeting? Or none of the above?

What has your experience been of using Elluminate or Flashmeetings? How do they compare? What has...

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Margaret Byrne
5 April 2010

What has your experience been of using Elluminate or Flashmeetings? How do they compare? What has worked best for you as a learner or teacher? When is it best to use Elluminate or a Flashmeeting. Do you think either Elluminate or Flashmeetings are effective synchronous online tools? Or have they not worked for you?

Please feel free to add links and references and join in the debate.

Extra content

I have used FM and Elly quite a bit and wjilts I agree there are horses for courses, I do think that FM allows deeper discussion for a Masters course - and you don't have to worry about note taking! Provded of course it is automatically recorded.  Here is a comparison I put together for debate!

 

Flashmeeting

Elluminate

Similar tool features

Synchronicity, chatbox, voice, whiteboard annotation, upload presentations, send URL/webtour, voting, possible bandwidth/accessibility limitation.

Designed pedagogy

Learner-centric.  No hierarchy

Teacher-centric.  Needs moderator to operate meeting

Interrupt

Single voice  – ability to interrupt

Single voice - multiple if moderator allows

Queuing

Automatic

Needs moderator management

Video

Simultaneous video of each participant

Moderator video

Additional tool features

None

Polling, quizzes etc

User interface

Easy/intuitive

Needs training

Breakout rooms

None

Need to set up slides in advance for each room – no automatic saving of annotated whiteboards in rooms.  Participants moved by moderator.

Application sharing

N/A

Works well

Asynchronicity

Automatic archiving

No automatic archiving.  Needs action by moderator and cannot save breakout room conversation.

Barbara
17:52 on 10 April 2010

Embedded Content

Contribute

Julia Wells
11:55am 7 April 2010


The ability to see the person you are communicating with is an important interpersonal dimension, which should not be underestimated. Therefore, if the group size allows it, I feel that Flashmeetings are generally preferable. However, Elluminate provides a viable alternative for larger group interactions, and the extended functionality allows for break-out room discussions to take place.

Carl
11:13am 8 April 2010


Does Elluminate or Flashmeeting allow you to share your computer screen with the participants? If not, I guess that is a quite a limitation common to both tools... perhaps only partially compensated by a basic whiteboard facility...

Dana Taylor
6:32pm 8 April 2010


Elluminate works on a 64bit machine, Flashmeeting doesn't, so from a totally technical perspective, there may be reasons why Elluminate is better; I agree about the group size, Julia. I also think that any communication software - as long as it provides people with the freedom to choose their level of interaction - works, unless it has fundamental flaws. (what I am saying I guess is that in effect it is a tool, and people will find a way to make it work for them - or they'll move on to another tool)

Carl - Elluminate does allow you to share the desktop and - selectively - applications or browser pages even. I don't know about Flashmeeting!

 

julian j p burns
6:02am 9 April 2010


Carl, I don't know about Flashmeeting but Elluminate does allow you to share your computer screen with participants

Carl
7:11am 9 April 2010


Yes, thanks Julian - therefore the lack of a "presentation mode" might be an issue for Flashmeeting alone. But then, if we think of Flashmeeting as enabling a less structured, more conversational approach, then this may be justified.

I just wonder about the management of a Flashmeeting - if we say that there are "tutor" roles and "student" roles, wouldn't there be an issue in the tutor being able to direct and even facilitate through different topics? After all, there is really no single presenter in Flashmeeting... is there?

In addition, personally I do not feel the need to always see who I am talking to - I would often rely on vocal inflexions to draw inferences and meaning from what people say. Which is not to discount video entirely - rather that I see it as more "optional" than "essential".

Carl
7:12am 9 April 2010 (Edited 8:50am 9 April 2010)


Duplicate deleted

Gráinne Conole
8:54am 10 April 2010


Great topic! My experience as a spanish student on L140 using Lyceum was mixed. To be honest I valued the face to face sessions more. I had to do my ECA oral exam in LYceum - it was a role play and I found it very nerve wrecking! Interestingly I use audio and video conferencing alot professionally, both for project meetings and for giving presentations and ~I find it fine, somehow though as a students I prefer being face to face.

Alice Shepherd
10:00am 11 April 2010


Does FlashMeeting allow you to view a slide presentation as Elluminate does?  I think this is useful to have something to focus on, even if you can't see the other participants (in Elluminate).  I used to attend a lot of conference calls with no visual aids, and it was a very draining experience.  I was advised to get a headset and mute the phone so I could type emails etc whilst listening!

Alice Shepherd
10:04am 11 April 2010


I do think the breakout room function is powerful in a tutorial or seminar setting.  I guess you could do this in FlashMeeting but you would need to set up separate meetings and then all come back together in another meeting at the end?  A bit fiddly I think...

John Mullen
10:35am 11 April 2010


I was very happy with Elluminate. Flash meeting is completely new to me. I disagree with Carl about not seeing the person I'm talking to. I think body language adds immensely to my understanding and I think there is research tath confirms this. However, i accept that it maynot always be necessary and depends on the context and significance of the meeting.

Carl
3:09pm 11 April 2010


Yes, John... context is certainly important.

If I said that I would be using the internet to deliver product training to different groups of salespeople and account managers, where my own contact would be limited often to single hour or two - frankly, I would prefer NOT to see their faces,and would prefer that they wouldn't see mine. With no offence intended to them. I'd rather they kept their eyes on the features of the presentation.

On the other hand, in a more "longitudinal" learning relationship, if I may call it that, as part of a group of students being asked to collaborate on an ongoing basis, or as facilitator/tutor for a group, I would be open to use of video: if nothing else, it can enable a more collegiate atmosphere.

Perhaps worthy of consideration are various aspects of longitude (duration and frequency of learning) vs latitude (number of participants and range of subjects covered).

Carl
3:50pm 11 April 2010 (Edited 3:50pm 11 April 2010)


Something else occurred to me: that if a meeting/session/class were set to last a few hours, and nature called, so to speak: having a video camera could result in reduced mobility. It might seem a trivial point, yet it could be occasionally relevant - especially if the iPad, for example, becomes a de facto platform for e-learning.

kelvin karim
6:40pm 11 April 2010


My experience of using Elluminate and FlashMeeting is very limited. They have been used in the H800 course for a small number of interactive sessions to date. I have not had experience of either of them as the teacher/facilitator. I am sure that experience of using the platforms in this role will enable me to see which of them works best and in what context. Notwithstanding, my limited experience as a learner partcicipant, I think that both are useful. On the face of it, as has already been said, Elluminate seems to work better with bigger numbers and allows for smaller group work in breakout rooms. The webcam facility in FlashMeeting has only a limited use in my view, once the novelty value has worn off. My introduction to these two platforms has led me to ask three further questions: a) establishing exactly what the platforms are capable of delivering? b) what other platforms exist? and c) how do these other platforms compare with the ones that I have been so far introduced to? I am aware, for instance, that Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is also another strong competitor for web-conferencing and e learning. See the demo at: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatconnectpro/demo/

Dave Martin
7:21pm 12 April 2010


I like the comparsion table you offer as a discussion point Barbara.

On this one

Designed pedagogy

Learner-centric.  No hierarchy

Teacher-centric.  Needs moderator to operate meeting

 

I'd note that it would depend how you were using the two. This is certainly true of the formal tutor lead ones I have run in H800 but would not be true of the student led Elluminate sessions you have run yourselves.

When I first used Flashmeeting I thought the pie charts being created showing who was 'dominating' the meeting were very interesting.

So what if I claim that regardless of the affordances of the two the interaction that takes place is heavily influenced by the roles that those attending take and give each other?

Dave Martin
7:25pm 12 April 2010


Follow this link to see the type of graphic I was basing my final comment upon. http://flashmeeting.open.ac.uk/research/shapes.html

Carl
8:33am 13 April 2010


That's a very interesting chart and a useful tool, especially when a number of meetings can be compared alongside each other.

In regards to Adobe Connect, it is used in my company, so I've used this a lot. The UI is certainly slick and it has both whiteboard and webcam functionality. However, we do not use the voice feature, instead using another system - I am told that the native sound is not of good quality (but cannot confirm this).


We've also used it to record delivering training in person - but it doesn't allow a very granular form of editing.

Robert Preston
5:57am 14 April 2010


Reading this thread I see the comments already made match that of my own and reviewing the two tools I don't think there is a clear winner yet, maybe Elluminate has the slight edge.  Elluminate handles large groups and provides much more functionality emulating a virtual classroom where as FM gives people the opportunity to interact emulating a conference call.  I get the impression that we may all like to have a tool that does both - "Ellumi-Flash". I'm certain technology will catch up with us soon.

Start a session in Elluminate where we come together as a larger group and when required, breakout into smaller groups where the session could be FM(complete with video)  giving us all the  opportunity to interact as a closer group.

I do agree with Alice's point about having something to focus on during the session.  I do think FM has a whiteboard function where the group ideas could have been captured but we never exploited that function really.  Maybe next FM session this should be evaluated?  

Julia Wells
6:05pm 14 April 2010


The pie charts look really useful, Dave. Are they only available for Flash meetings?

In a learning situation, they could clearly be used to identify students who are not contributing - the teacher can then identify the cause and attempt to find a solution.

Robert Preston
10:27pm 14 April 2010


The charts are an added bonus that I was unaware of.  What a fantastic tool for producing some quantative data.  A great reporting tool that could produce some interesting information once analysed.

Does Elluminate do this too?

Melanie Burton
7:19am 15 April 2010


My experience using the two is similar to others, limited to student rather than facilitator although I haven't had direct experience of FM I have seen recordings of sessions.

I tend to prefer the audio without video experience on the whole, particularly for a more formal learning session such as those I've experienced on H800 using Elluminate. I think this is because I've found having the slides to focus on has been useful. However, I'd agree with Rob's suggestion that a blend of the two could work well, with smaller group sessions using a video element as this seems to encourage collaboration and makes for a more social experience.

My work based experience has been using Microsoft Live Meeting which enables sharing of a desktop. This has been really useful for small group discussions around a specific focus such as preparing a powerpoint presentation. We've used a separate audio dial up so it does require that technology to be available.

I do tend to 'multi task' when doing conferencing, maybe another reason why I prefer not to have the video element, as others have mentioned!

Marshal Anderson
9:11am 15 April 2010


Really just to say that I've used OpenLearn's FM with my A172 students - it seemed very uncluttered and reliable - it didn't seem to ask as much technically of the user and worked very well as a conference call with knobs on. However, I don;t think I'd use it for anything where I wanted to do a formal lesson - Elluminate (or iLink) seem much better for that.

Dave Martin
10:50am 15 April 2010 (Edited 10:55am 15 April 2010)


I'm just responding to Carl, Julia and Rob's points re the charts, and for anyone else who picked up on the pie charts etc,  that the charts within Flashmeeting are produced by the OU research team at the Centre for New Media who I believe are using them to study the dynamics of meetings.

To read about this follow the link Alice Shepherd has set up.

Barbara
7:21am 16 April 2010


I would agree with your comment Dave that the affordances of the 2 media are influences, sometimes strongly, by the roles of the participants - as illustrated by your piecharts, but i still maintain that the overall design - GUI upholds the difference.  Unless the moderator in Elluminate gives 'power' to the participants there is an unequalness which does not exist in FM. 

Barbara
7:35am 16 April 2010


I have added a few links to some interesting academic papers on these products.

Claire Edwards
6:34am 17 April 2010


Great pie charts Dave, thank you. I can really see the value in being able to evaluate a session using the charts as evidence of participation.

I agree with much of the discussion to date. I like the web cam feature of Flash and find it works really well for some group discussion on specific topics. However, the desktop sharing facilty of  Elluminate and the breakout rooms offers great flexibility for sharing ideas etc.

Does anyone know of anything out there that combines the features of Flas and Elluminate?

Claire

Margaret Byrne
9:20am 23 April 2010


Finally I am able to contribute to the debate having been abroad much longer than I planned with very limited internet access. I would like to acknowledge Carl whose idea this was to debate. I just set it up on behalf our H800 tutor group.

We have been comparing the more informal, learner-centric Flashmeeting with the more formal tutor preferred Elluminate.  Flashmeetings have the advantage of videocam whereas Elluminate seems to be technically superior with its breakout rooms and shared screens. As a student I found Flashmeetings user friendly and easy to participate in, whereas Elluminate was intimidating and very tiring. There is so much going on in Elluminate between voices, chat, watching who wants to speak, who’s in or out of the meeting, emotions and voting. I think students do need a more supportive online environment and that the absence of faces attached to voices can be very unnerving indeed. There can be very long silences in unmoderated meeting where you are not sure what is going on.

I haven’t used either as a tutor but I can see that Elluminate does put the tutor as moderator in a much stronger position.  However relationship building is an important aspect of tutor/student contact and I am not sure that Elluminate is very effective in this respect.  I am also not convinced about how much effective work is done in Elluminate whiteboards. In H800 I think we produce much better work asynchronously in Moodle forums.

So this begs the question what is the main purpose of synchronous online tools? I think it is to encourage communication and synchronous interaction. Like a F2F tutorial synchronous meetings are better in my view when they are interactive, participatory and learner centric. Dave is right to point out that we heavily influence the style of interaction and that we can use all technologies in a learner-centric or a teacher-centric way. However I am going to argue that in evaluating a technology for synchronous use, the priority criteria has to be how user friendly are they and how well it does support human interaction rather than which is technically superior.

In this regard Flashmeetings work better for me but I think we also need to find ways of using Elluminate in a more learner-centric ways. Granting moderator privileges to everyone is an obvious first step but we also need to think about how to use chat windows, break out rooms and whiteboards to support effective interaction. I think there is still a lot to be learnt about how we use these technologies to support learning.

I would be interested to hear of any ideas about how Elluminate could be used in more learner-centric ways.

Eileen Mansfield
12:12am 14 June 2011


I would say that you would want to use Flashmeeting for online activities that require a high level of student participation. For instance a virtual  Day School activity where you are getting groups to work together on an workshop activity such as how to complete an EMA. For this type of activity you need a higher level of student participation to ensure that group work is completed. The technology used to facilitate this activity is user friendly and is made for social interaction.

Other activities such as looking at slides relating to a tutor lead activity only require a limited use of student participation and so Elluminate would work better. I like the way the group can write on the white board and post messages and slides up there. One limitation of Elluminate is that only one person can speak at a time or there is a lot of feedback. You also require to have headphones and an internet connection and not everyone has this, or is competent in using this software.

Regards, Eileen

Judy Bloxham
8:32am 24 March 2013


Eliminate is discriminatory. Users need to download toe .jnlp client and have up to date Java. In my experience of working with learning providers (FE and skills based) the vast majority do not have any network rights to do t his and so are unable to use this sytem. To use the system to demonstrate anything is difficult, if you move rapidly the refresh rate is so slow it looks like the screen is being knitted in front of your eyes. In terms of audio, the system appears to compress audio, ie remove higher and lower frequencies. This has the effect of removing some tones from speech and make it sound far more boring. Of all the systems I've experienced this is the only one I've noticed this compression effect. For me it means I tend to switch off as I just find the audio difficult to concentrate on.

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