Adobe Connect Pro: An Introduction



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Overview


This introductory workshop will cover how to use the synchronous communication platform Adobe Connect Pro. It is aimed at teachers and/or managers who wish to conduct online meetings.

By the end of the session learners will have extended their skills to encompass:
  • Overview of Acrobat Connect Professional
  • Logging in
  • understanding the host, presenter and participant profiles
  • Using the Camera and Voice Pod
  • pods, layouts and their functions
  • Using the attendees pod
  • Using the text chat & Q & A pods
  • Using the note pod
  • Using the share pod
  • Using the File Sharing Pod
  • Using the Poll Pod
  • Using the Web Links Pod
  • Presenting using the Share Pod

Introduction


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Adobe Acrobat Connect is a commercial web conferencing platform produced by Adobe and is one of numerous platforms including Elluminate, discovere, iVocalize etc. which are referred to as synchronous communication platforms. Typically they combine live Web conferencing within a collaborative e-learning environment and are referrred to as synchrounous because the communication takes place in real time rather than over time as in asynchrous forms of communication such as forums or email groups. Typically they bring together simultaneous Voice over IP (VoIP), video, text chat, interactive whiteboard communications, application sharing etc. which are in-sync regardless of connection speed.

Adobe Connect Professional features


The Adobe Connect platform comprises the core Adobe Coonect Communication Server and applications for real-time and on-demand communication.

Communication Server


This is a central server which requires a licence to be purchased by an organisation. In 2006 the TAFE Online Stage 2: Access to New Technologies project purchased a server licence for TAFE NSW institutes. The server is located @ OTEN and is available both inside and outside the DET firewall. The licence covers the number if users who can be logged on @ any given time and any additional modules which are available for use on the server. eg. Adobe Connect Events.

Acrobat Connect Professional


This delivers real-time meetings and seminars and is the component which most staff will utilise.

Adobe Connect Events


This additional module manages user registration, qualification, notification, automatic email reminders and tracking for large online seminars and presentations. TAFE NSW has purchased this module.

Adobe Connect Presenter


Breeze Presenter enables PowerPoint authoring of narrated, self-paced eLearning courses and on-demand presentations. It is a plugin to MS powerpoint and requires an individual licence, institutes will need to order this separately for their staff.

Adobe Connect Training


This module provides a range of user and content tracking capabilities comprable to an Learning Management System (LMS). TAFE NSW has not purcahsed this module as we have this function served by a other platorms such as janison and Moodle.

Client requirements


Adobe Connect is a Flash based platform so all the a user requires to attend a meeting is the following :-

  • MS Windows, Apple Mac, Lynux or Solaris Operating System more info
  • Web Bowser ie IE, Firefox
  • Adobe Flash player installed
  • Sound Card with mic input
  • Headset/Microphone headset
  • Webcam (optional)

Profiles


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There are 3 profile types in a Adobe Connect Professional meeting room, each with its own level of permissions.

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Can set up a meeting, invite guests, add content, and add or edit layouts in a meeting room. They can promote other participants to be hosts or presenters, and while a meeting is in progress, they can switch to preparing mode to create or edit a layout for a different presentation. They can use any features available to a presenter.

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Can show content already loaded into the meeting room from the library, and they can show new content from their computer. They can also share a screen, making anything displayed on the presenter's screen appear on the meeting room Stage of all participants and presenters. They can also chat, answer questions, and broadcast live audio and video. What they can't do is alter the layout of the pods in the room.

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Can view the content that the presenter is showing or sharing, hear and see the presenter's audio and video broadcast, use text chat, and broadcast their own audio and video, if given permission.

Setting up your audio/video


Prior to entering the room you will need to ensure the microphone and/or webcam are working correctly.

Audio Headsets


Analogue headsets

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Typically analogue headsets have 2 leads, one for the microphone and one for the headphones which are plugged into the computers sound card. They are referred to as analogue as the computers sound card converts the signals to digital information. The leads follow a loose colour coding convention which is unfortunately often not adhered to, pink for the mic and green for the headphones. They will also have printed symbols which denote the mic and headphones. One of the common problems with audio is that they are plugged into the wrong sockets on the computer.
They commonly they have an in-line volume control and microphone mute switch which is also be good place to check if you have no audio signal. The microphones fold out and need to be close to your mouth, 15 cm max to work effectively.

Analogue headsets range anywhere from $7 up to $50 depending on the quality of the headphones mostly, and are the most common type of headset used.

Sound card settings

Analogue headsets are notoriously difficult to get working as they require the "sounds and audio devices" settings in Windows XP to be set up correctly. As each sound card, driver software and computer is different so it is difficult to provide a definitive guide to the setup. Once set up it will not need to be altered, however it may require some trial and error tweaking to get it right initially.

Desktop Computers

It's not uncommon for desktop computers to have 2 microphone headphone socket sets, one at the rear and one at the front of the computer. Plug the headset into the one most convenient. The rest of the configuration will be done using the Windows "sounds and audio devices" panel.

Watch this video to learn how to use the sounds and audio devices panel.

Notebook Computers

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Notebooks often have an internal microphone in addition to a socket for an external microphone. Sometimes these are refered to mic 1 and mic 2 on the audio devices panel. When an external mic is connected the internal mic is disabled.

USB headsets

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USB headsets are fully digital in that the headset itself converts the microphone signals to digital information and hence the sound card in the computer is not utilised. The data is transferred via the USB port. One of the great features of USB headsets is that they are "plug and play" and don't require any drivers to be installed and will generally be ready to use once the Operating System has detected and configured the headset. The advantage of USB headsets is that you bypass the common issues surrounding sound cards and drivers, all you need to do is plug the lead into a free usb port and ensure the microphone level is set appropriately in the sounds and audio devices panel.

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Adobe Presentation on choosing a microphone

Logging into Adobe Connect


Typically when you attend a Adobe Connect meeting/conference you will be sent an invitation which includes a url to the room.

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If you are a registered user on the server enter your username and password
Otherwise you can enter the room as a guest, here you will be asked to enter a name for the session.

In some instances the room will have an additional layer of security and a request to enter the room will be sent to presenters and hosts present in the room who will in turn approve your entry.

Setting your bandwidth


Participants Connection Speed
Upon entering the room you should set the bandwith according to the speed of the connection you have to the internet.

Select Meeting>My Connection Speed and choose from one of the options listed.

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Modem - Optimises your room use for a dialup connection.
DSL - Optimises your room use for a broadband connection such as ADSL, cable
LAN - Select this is you are on a corporate network, like @ TAFE

Presenters/Hosts - Room Bandwidth

If you are a presenter and/or a host in the room you will need to optimise the overall bandwith of the room.

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The bandwidth for the meeting room itself, should correspond to the average bandwidth of your meeting participants. This way Adobe Connect optimises the delivery of content to best suit the majority of users in the room.

Running the audio Wizard


Prior to using the Camera and Voice pod it is a good idea to run the set up wizard to optimise your audio for the meeting room.

Select from the menu Meeting>Audio Setup Wizard

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Follow the steps outlined in the wizard to the very end.

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NOTE:
To set your microphone for echo cancellation and noise suppression, you need to install the Adobe Connect Meeting Add-in. The Audio Setup wizard can run without this additional plugin however, for the highest quality audio possible with your configuration, Adobe recommends that you install the Adobe Connect Meeting Add-in and run the wizard.

Advanced Settings

If after running the audio wizard the room attendees are reporting poor audio quality or report you are tool low in volume, despite the audio panel adjustments you can turn off some of the automatic functions.

This can be done in the final stage of the Audio set-up Wizard.

Click the Advanced Settings .... button

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Silence Level

For Silence Level, drag the slider to adjust the level. A higher setting results in more sensitivity to silence in an audio broadcast.

Automatic gain Control

The automatic gain function dynamically adjusts your microphone levels based on how loud you speak. Occasionally this is too aggressive and results in too much gain being applied. To turn it off uncheck the AGC check box and manually adjust your microphone level with the slider.

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Echo Cancellation Mode

This is important if you want to use speakers and a microphone where multiple speakers can generate feedback.

For Acoustic Echo Cancellation Mode, select an option to adjust echo cancellation (the Flash Connect Add‑in must be installed to use this option):

Option
Description
Full Duplex
Enables multiple users to speak at one time. If echo feedback results, select another option (this option is preferred for most systems).
Half Duplex
Enables only one user to speak at a time. Use this option if microphones on your system are unusually sensitive (transmitting unwanted background sound) or if you have poor echo cancellation.
Headphones
Optimizes audio settings for use with headphones. This option uses Full Duplex mode, in which multiple users can speak at one time.
Off
Disables echo cancellation.

Audio Quality

For Audio Quality, select an option to adjust a combination of all audio settings, including silence level, echo cancellation, and gain control, to provide optimized performance. A higher quality setting uses more CPU resources, and therefore slows performance, but provides better audio quality. It is recommended that you use the highest quality setting that does not cause detectable audio degradation on your system. Select one of four settings:

Option
Description
Fast
Provides the fastest performance but the lowest audio quality. (This setting uses the fewest CPU resources. Use this option for systems with slower CPUs.)
Good
Provides somewhat slower performance but better audio quality. (This is the default setting, recommended for most systems.)
Best
Provides the slowest performance but the best audio quality. (Use this option for systems with very fast CPUs.)
Custom
Enables you to select options for audio quality settings. Use this option if the standard settings do not provide adequate results. Proceed to step 10 to select Custom options.

NOTE: Best not to adjust any of the Advanced setting unless you experience problems.

Camera and Voice Pod


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Watch this move to learn how to set up audio for a meeting room & use the Camera and Voice Pod.

Hints on using camera/voice

Unless you have a specific reason it's best not to utilise the video camera as it consumes significant bandwith and may degarde the overall experience of the session. As a facilitator you may introduce the session using the camera and then pause it for the duration of the session

To pause the camera click the camera icon, this will take a snap shot from the camera and use this as a still picture. The camera can be restarted by clicking the icon again.

It's a good idea to turn you microphone off if you are not speaking. With multiple speaker mode enabled, each participant adds a little background noise to the session which culminates in a distracting background interference.

The microphone lock mode is useful if you need to use your mouse to demonstrate and essential if you are desktop sharing as the foucus is moved to away from the meeting room to the shaped application.

Adobe - TechNote : Best practices for Voice Over IP (VoIP) audio

Configuring pod options

Once you have been granted control over a pod the options button will be present in the lower right hand corner.

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Camera Off Turns off video broadcasting.

Slow Images Samples and transmits the camera image less frequently than other image settings. Images tend to be low-quality and can shift abruptly. Use this setting if most attendees have low-speed connections or if you are not concerned about image quality.

Fast Images Provides a clear but not high-quality image. Use this setting if attendees are connected at a variety of speeds.

High Quality Images Provides high-quality images. Use this setting if all attendees are connected at high speeds.



Portrait Presents a square shape.

Standard Approximates 160/120 aspect ratio.

Landscape Approximates 9/5 aspect ratio.



Voice Off - Turns off all audio broadcasting.

Voice On - Multiple Speakers Turns on audio broadcasting. Meeting attendees who have the appropriate permissions can broadcast audio. Any attendee can talk when holding down the Talk button.

Voice On - One Speaker Turns on audio broadcasting. Meeting attendees who have the appropriate permissions can broadcast audio. When a speaker holds down the Talk button, the Talk button is disabled for other users, who cannot broadcast their voice.

Allowing participants to broadcast


There are three methods a presenter can use to allow participants to broadcast video and audio in a meeting.

Method 1

Method one promotes the participant to a Presenter role. As a Presenter, the participant can use any meeting features available to a presenter except change the layout and size of the pods.

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Select the users name in the Attendee List and then set their role as presenter. This will give them control over all pods, including the camera and voice pod.

Method 2

The second method is to enable "auto promote participants to presenters feature". Here as participants enter the room they are automatically promoted to the role of presenter.

As a host or presenter click the meeting menu and enable the option for the room.

Method 3

The third method changes the participant's rights only for the Camera and Voice pod. From the Attendee List pod, you can grant presenter's rights to a participant for a specific pod.

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You can choose to grant a user control over one or more pods. Note they will have same control as hosts and presenters over pods which can lead to some chaotic outcomes if users begin changing settings which effect everyone in the room.
This is a useful method to give participants control over the camera and voice pod so they can use a mic or camera.

NOTE: You can select all participants by selecting "Select All" and then use the "Change Enhanced Participants Rights" option to grant control over pods.

Attendee List Pod


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The Attendee List pod, enables you can quickly see who is logged in to a meeting and monitor everyone's name, role, and status.

The names in the Attendee List pod are grouped by role indicated by their icon.

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Presenters and participants can view a participant's name & status while hosts can control options.

Emoticons

By default the participant emoticon is blank. However, participants can change their own emoticon to indicate to the group their status. For example they might wish to ask a question or indicate they have stepped away. When a participant selects a status, an icon appears to the right of the their name. Participants can clear their status at any time during a meeting. When you have responded to a message and want to clear the participant status, select Clear User Status from the Attendee List Pod Options pop-up menu.

About attendee bandwidth

When an attendee's connection falls below the current meeting room bandwidth, one of the following indicators appears to the right of the user's name:

Orange triangle The participant is on a connection that is less than the current room bandwidth, the participant has high latency (between 0.2 and 4 seconds), or the participant is dropping between 5% and 20% of packets.

Red square The participant is on a connection that approximates a modem connection, the participant has high latency (greater than 4 seconds), or the participant is dropping more than 20% of packets.

When bandwidth performance meets requirements, no symbol appears. You can configure the network connection status indicators to be on or off at any time during a meeting.

To show or hide attendees' connection status indicators:

  1. Click the pod option icon in the bottom right hand corner of the Attendee List pod.
  2. Select Show Connection Status from the pop-up menu.

If Show Connection Status has a check mark next to it, the network connection status is enabled and shows network connection status for all attendees in your meeting. If the option has no check mark, the connection status indicators are hidden for users in your meeting.

Changing an attendee's role

As a host you can change the role of any participant in the Attendee List pod, so that you can promote and demote them as necessary. You can also change your own role.

Roll over each name to view the attendee's full name, meeting role, audio conference status, and enhanced rights.

To change a participant's role:

1. In the Attendee List pod, select the name of the participant whose role you want to change.
2. Click Set User Role in the lower-left corner of the Attendee List pod.
3. From the pop-up menu, select the role to give to the selected attendee: Participant, Presenter, or Host

To remove a participant from a meeting:
  1. In the Attendee List pod, select the name of the participant to remove.
  2. Click Pod Options in the lower-right corner of the Attendee List pod.
A pop-up menu appears with a list of the available pod options.
  1. Select Remove Selected User from the pop-up menu.

Changing a participant's pod control

A host can give a presenter or a participant full control of a specific or range of pods.

  1. Select the name of a presenter or participant from the Attendee List pod.
  2. Click Pod Options button on the bottom right hand corner of the the Attendee List pod.
  3. To change a user's rights for a pod, select the pod.
  4. Click OK.

The user has full functionality for all instances of the selected pod types.

Recording your sessions


Watch this move - How to access and distribute connect recordings

Resources


TAFE NSW Adobe Connect server

What's possible with Adobe Connect & Presenter, John Paull, Adobe Pacific

Overview of Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect Resource Center - Note the existing Breeze resources are applicable to Connect

Breeze 5 Documentation

Macromedia Breeze Presenter Quick Start Guide

TAFE Online Stage 2 EdNA group - Including Breeze user group

Adobe Presentation on choosing a microphone

Adobe presentation on the best practices for using webcameras

Adobe resources on best practices for recording

Adobe presentation on Screen sharing with Breeze

All things Connected - wiki space is for teachers in TAFE NSW attending CLI's online sessions on how to use Adobe Connect.