Platforms for informal networking.
The one platform that we likely think of first when considering a virtual meeting is, of course, zoom. At the Learning Lab, our goal is to find the potential for innovation in the alternatives, in the tools and platforms that can augment the virtual experience, to offer new ways of collaborting and connecting with peers. So we set out to try several alternative virtual meeting platforms that might provide that missing space of inforlmal connection that we all miss in this remote learning environment. Below you will find the list of tools and our student feedback on each of them.
This platform is great becasue you can customize or fully design your space, and users can move freely between different rooms within a space. There are various ways to lead collaborative discussions, either with the podium feature or the pop up whiteboards.
Just as if you were in a physical space, you have to be aware of proximity and social cues. For example the farther you move away from a group of people talking, the harder it is to hear the conversation.
You can switch views so you can either make the room the dominant feature of your screen, or the people near you. This allows for toggling between navigating to "scope out the scene" and diving into a deeper conversation as you wish.
With a ton of templates to implement, this platform is perfect for group brainstorming or sharing ideas and resources in creative ways. You can easily upload pictures from your computer or google, choose to map across timelines, charts, digital post-its, you name it! The Web Page Capture apps could be a great way to analyze/compare various websites’ content and layout. While you get a free trial of video chat for 14 days, the emphasis here is very much on the product--the weekly schedule, the post it note collection, the timeline--and not on the meeting. And while it is ideal for brainstorimng and ideating, it can get a bit chaotic without some norms set to structure the experience.
This platform includes such a wide array of collaboration tools, and even supports multiple people sharing screens at once. This creates some really cool opportunities for collaborative presentaions, performances, or active learning instances. Proximity affects audio, so the “further” away you are, the quieter it gets. One useful innovation Here has implemented is the ability to draw without clicking (using “shift” to start drawing with mouse/trackpad) much easier to draw than other spaces. Something to explore more would be allowing more contraints of participant access to control, which would prevent chaos or tampering of performer/audience interaction.