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Adobe Connect Study


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Adobe Connect Study

  1. 1. Online Collaboration Across University Campuses: An Analysis of the Usage of Adobe Connect within the Penn State Community Hansa Sinha Jennifer McCauley Sonali Kumar College of Information College of Information College of Arts and Sciences and Technology Sciences and Technology Architecture 316C IST Bldg. 102 Paterno Library 128 Stuckeman Family Bldg. University Park, PA 16802 University Park, PA 16802 University Park, PA 16802 1 814 574 0118 +1 814 863 7098 ABSTRACT desktop video conferencing service. The software was An analysis of The Adobe Connect Community at Penn implemented, piloted and managed entirely by ITS. ITS State reveals the current usage of the technology in terms centralized the training efforts and dispersed the license of features, usability, and context of use. Applying management to academic and administrative unit liaisons qualitative interview methods, the research gathered [23]. information from individuals familiar with the Adobe Initially, the pilot included only faculty and staff but Connect environment. Specifically, the research focused eventually encompassed any individual capable of on developing a better understanding of how Adobe authenticating to the PSU system. External users were Connect is utilized within the Penn State Community. This required to gain a Friends of Penn State Account prior to approach highlighted the benefits of collaboration and the accessing Adobe Connect [23]. Over the past year, the challenges of utilizing technology in ways that may exceed system has increased its adoption and migrated from pilot the intended use. to production. ITS utilized focus groups to identify the Keywords needs of their diverse user groups which included building groupware, video conferencing, qualitative interviewing, online an online community, introductory and instructional collaboration seminars, and building the conversation surrounding Adobe Connect and its tools where "for fee" services are INTRODUCTION currently implemented [24]. Geographically dispersed and academically diverse, Penn State University (PSU) offers a unique environment for The present research investigates the existing user education. PSU offers challenges for collaboration across a community associated with Adobe Connect, both at large geographic space. “Penn State is a multi-campus University Park and at other campuses. It uses field public land-grant university that improves the lives of the methods (interviews) to identify and analyze current usage people of Pennsylvania, the nation, and the world through settings, successes and failures. The research contributes a integrated, high-quality programs in teaching, research, and high level analysis of Adobe Connect as an example of service… With its administrative and research hub at the new web-based collaborative technology that is being University Park campus, Penn State has 23 additional promoted and adopted by an educational institution. This locations across Pennsylvania” [20]. This challenge has research begins to capture the impact of Adobe Connect been addressed over the years in various approaches to and aid future efforts to enhance the collaboration of a video conferencing. geographically dispersed organization. In the past, PSU has explored vendors such as Centra, an COLLABORATION AND WEB CONFERENCING online learning environment that combines interactive RESEARCH virtual classroom learning, e-meeting, and web seminar Since the early 2000s, and as part of the development of a platform [7], for establishing online meetings and second generation of Web services, Web 2.0, now collaboration while keeping travel costs and time commonly termed collaborative or Web conferencing constraints to a minimum. Centra was available across the software, have become available. Many factors have made University's infrastructure but rendered itself difficult to this possible such as the spread of Internet accounts from utilize and lacked adoption over conference calls and other research and university environments into schools, colleges alternatives like NetMeeting. In the spring of 2006, PSU's and the commercial and domestic marketplace. This Information Technology Services (ITS) announced the provides an inexpensive and convenient way to pilot project, Adobe Connect Breeze (Connect) as a interconnect computers locally, nationally and
  2. 2. internationally. Educators have a rich source of material video captured. The main issue for participants has been including text, images and video and can locate that they were not in a “real” classroom with “real” instructional and resource materials on almost any topic students [12, 16]. and at almost any level [22]. Other collaboration and web conferencing systems research Groupware is defined as computer-based systems that informs this research with standards of practice and an support groups of people engaged in a common task (or understanding of the implications of the technology usage. goal) and that provide an interface to a shared environment Collaboration oriented technology focuses on connecting [10]. Awareness in groupware can reduce effort, increase people and therefore requires research that focuses on the efficiency, and reduce errors for the activities of human influence. Several research efforts note that the collaboration. One of the means of enhancing awareness is more personal the interaction needs are the less likely embodiments- visible representation of each person’s body technology will offer a satisfying solution. They state that in the workspace. Depending upon its expressiveness, a nothing can replace face-to-face communications. workspace embodiment can provide information about who Collaboration technology works well for standardized is working, where they are and what they are doing [13]. practices such as announcements and presentations but According to Kellogg et al, digital backchannels play an not for collaboration of larger groups. As the group important role in group interactions with one-on-one chats increases, human behavior changes and becomes more during classroom lectures and use of chat as public prone to inhibition and error [6, 12, 18]. Some research backchannel in physically shared spaces like academic also notes that the integration of emerging technologies conferences. Digital backchannels allow listeners to into online distance learning brings possible interactions in provide non-interruptive feedback to the speaker [14]. regard to social presence and the changing roles of the instructor to that of a partner in learning [3]. Few research projects have begun to explore the possibilities of enriching CSCL environments with tools THE ADOBE CONNECT SYSTEM that support collaborative interaction. Some have attempted Adobe Connect is a collaboration tool that includes video to propose classification frameworks built on a simple conferencing, application sharing, live polling, chat, model of coaching by reviewing an array of systems. It is whiteboards, and presentations. Live, synchronous acknowledged that the concept of supporting (as opposed interactions with small or large groups can take place right to enabling) peer-to-peer interaction in computer-supported on the desktop. A meeting can have as few as two or as collaborative learning is still in its infancy [19]. Others many as several hundred attendees. have explored the benefits of using emerging technologies, It is an online meeting tool that can be joined by navigating especially second-generation Web tools to take interactivity to a specific URL with a browser, which supports the to the next level and create engaging collaborative presentation of rich media content that can include video, environments [3]. animations and software simulations. The Adobe Connect Studies have been conducted in various universities trying meeting tool operates via Adobe Flash to implement similar web conferencing technologies. For example, Southern Utah University, located in a primarily rural setting with an increased need for a virtual campus, has adopted Breeze (now known as Adobe Connect) on all its online courses. They have made efforts to improve bandwidth issues to prove the long-term economic viability of distance education. They attribute the “slow implementation of Breeze into the institutional fabric” for its success and acceptance [11]. There are many hurdles during the implementation of new technology in educational settings. When working with any new medium of communication, there are inevitable Figure 1: Screen shot of Adobe Connect Meeting room difficulties. The most common problem in any project is to simply get the technology working at the various sites involved. Participants also have to spend time getting Player and also allows creation of personalized URL’s that acclimated to the system of communication [16]. Though are also customizable. teachers look to use technology within their classrooms, the Features of Adobe Connect implementation is limited to technology that compliments In Adobe Connect, a meeting room consists of a number of or enhances the teaching strategies learned in traditional display panels, called pods. There are eight types of pods, classrooms. Web and video conferencing technology are each with its own function: Camera and Voice, Chat, seen as not reliable or practical for classroom interaction. Question and Answer, Interactive Whiteboard, Notes, Poll, The social presence is not clearly conveyed through the Share, File Share [1, 26]. Both the File Sharing and the 2
  3. 3. Share pod enable users to share files within Adobe Once in a meeting, one can see and hear various types of Connect. media, such as a live video broadcast of the Presenter, a The File Sharing pod allows Hosts and Participants to Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, or a video. In real time, upload files to a meeting and have attendees download a Presenters can demonstrate software on the computer or copy of the file to their computer. All file types can be use a whiteboard to draw or annotate images or text. uploaded to this pod. On the other hand, the Share pod will Roles actually display the file that is uploaded, but is limited in the types of files it will accommodate. The Share pod can There are three different roles each having a different level display the following kinds of media which can be of control and permissions for meeting room attendees. uploaded by a host or presenter: These are the Hosts, who have full control over the Microsoft PowerPoint presentations (.PPT) Images (.JPG, .GIF, and .PNG) Flash files (.SWF) Flash Video files (.FLV) Activities that the Share pod can be used for include: Content display: The Share pod can display various kinds of media, including presentations, images, and documents. Whiteboard: Presenters and Hosts can annotate text and drawings collaboratively, in real time. Screen sharing and application sharing A whiteboard allows users to create text, lines, circles, Figure 2: Video Pod in Adobe Connect squares, and other free-hand drawings in real time during a meeting. All Presenters and Hosts can use a created meeting room, the Presenters who have moderate control whiteboard, and multiple whiteboards can be used per and finally the participants who have limited control. Hosts meeting [1, 26]. can set up a meeting room, invite guests, manage attendees, add content, and switch, add, or edit layouts. Adobe Connect Usage Presenters can broadcast live audio/video and share content An Adobe Connect meeting room exists before a scheduled from their computer, but have less control over the meeting meeting time and continues to exist after the scheduled room than Hosts. Presenters have no control over the meeting time has passed. A meeting room can be used over Attendee List and cannot change a layout or change from and over. The Host can leave the meeting room open or one layout to another. Participants can view content and closed between scheduled meetings. If a meeting room is participate in interactive resources made available by Hosts open between meetings, one can enter the room at any time or Presenters (such as text chat and polls), but cannot to view content or meet with other group members. broadcast audio/video, share content, or manage the From a Share pod, Hosts and Presenters can broadcast a meeting room. desktop, window, or application to all Attendees in a Awareness meeting room. For meeting Attendees to see the shared item, it must be in full view on the Host or Presenter's One of the means of creating awareness in Adobe Connect screen. Any changes the sharing Host or Presenter makes is emoticons. Emoticons are useful for asking group to the application are visible to the Attendees, including questions and getting group responses. An example of the related windows such as dialog boxes. Overlapping use of emoticons would be to have everyone give you a windows from applications not selected for sharing appear "thumbs up" if they can hear. Participants who don't as a blue cross-hatch pattern. respond may be having technical issues and may need help from a tech support moderator. Levels of Usage Figure 3: Screen shot of Emoticons Meeting types supported by Adobe Connect can have four levels: One-on-one, small group meetings, Presenting to a In Adobe Connect, Hosts and Presenters can broadcast live dispersed or gathered audience and broadcasting a live audio and video using the Camera and Voice pod. All event. In Penn State, Adobe Connect service has been attendees can hear and see the broadcast audio and video. deployed by Information Technology Services to meet the Reviewability, Revisability needs of faculty and staff who would like to use desktop Adobe Connect meetings can be recorded and saved for video conferencing for: playback at any time. There are many advantages to Synchronous group meetings recording meetings, including allowing users to review and Resident and blended course activities even interact with old meetings. Adobe Connect records Training sessions events rather than screen shots, which means that users can 3
  4. 4. • A PhD student in IST at PSU with experience as a software implementer, database administrator, webmaster and computer support. • A master’s student in IST specializing in the social aspects of Information Technology drawing upon eight years of experience in corporate and higher education technology organizations. play the recording at whatever size they would like, and all • A master’s student in the College of Architecture the interactive SWF files that a typical participant would at PSU with a professional degree in Architecture manipulate can be manipulated during playback. and experience working on a large-scale In Adobe Connect, chat pods and question and answer pods distributed design collaboration research project also allow for digital backchannels to occur [14]. Adobe utilizing high bandwidth connection. Connect allows participants to chat with specific With their different backgrounds as well as common participants in the meeting room creating backchannels that experience in information technology, their interpretations may not be obvious. are expected to contribute towards enriching the quality and validity of the findings. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The study developed an understanding of the applications DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS and experiences surrounding the adoption of Adobe The researchers with aid from the Information Technology Connect at Penn State. The finding sought to identify Services department (ITS) at Penn State identified units opportunities for improvement and successful applications within the University with a strong likelihood of Adobe of Adobe Connect. The specific research question was: Connect adoption. The likelihood was determined through “How does the Penn State Community utilize Adobe attendance statistics of ITS Adobe Connet open sessions. Connect?” The units Adobe Connect contact person was emailed and recruited to interview or identify other users to interview. The research sought a high level initial effort to capture the The group also posted on the Adobe Connect ITS Forum uses of Adobe Connect. The Penn State environment and utilized their networks to aid in interviewee presented a diverse and geographically dispersed user identification. group. This challenged the usage of a specific theory in the research. Grounded Theory, or the practice of gathering The eight interviewees were chosen based on having data and interpreting the data for themes and theories [25], experience with Adobe Connect at any level. The addressed this challenge. Grounded theory allowed the researchers sought out a diverse group from units across high level approach to reveal themes for further the University which included people at University Park exploration. and other locations. The geographic dispersion required Qualitative methods of research were employed by some of the interviews to be conducted over the phone interviewing eight people who have used Adobe Connect while a majority of them were conducted in person. as implementers, moderators or users. The interviews were The interviews were audio recorded after obtaining signed semi-structured with open ended questions using the consent forms from the participants. These recordings were interview guide (Appendix 1). used for later analysis by tabulating the responses of each The interpretive lens framed the analysis of the interviews. participant for each question. The responses for each Interpretive studies assume that “people create and question were summarized to draw predominant themes. associate their own subjective and inter-subjective Finally, the researchers discussed and compared their meanings as they interact with the world around them” interpretations with each other. This method of [25]. The interpretivist lens is based on the ontological triangulation is expected to increase the validity of the assumption that reality and our knowledge of it are socially findings. The interview questions were designed to seek constructed. In IS research, interpretive methods are aimed information in three categories: educational and technical at understanding the context within which an information background, experience with web communication system exists and how it influences and is influenced by technologies, and usage of Adobe Connect. A copy of the this context [27]. The interpretivist epistemology enabled interview guideline is attached (Appendix 1). the construction of the social reality of Adobe Connect Educational and Technical Background applications[17]. A majority of the participants held college degrees. Only The research team was comprised of three diverse two participants had a degree in computer members. science/engineering. One of them was not an Adobe Connect user but was involved during its implementation and piloting. These are listed in Table1 below. 4
  5. 5. All participants used the Windows operating systems. Two of them also used Macintosh and one used Linux most of Highest No. of Major the time. Most of the participants had experience in web Degree Participants development, albeit in varying degrees from some web pages using html to web designing using Java. All of them High School 1 - perceived themselves as heavy users of information technology. Bachelors 4 Eng, Bio, CompSc, Phy, German Experience with Web Communication Technologies The second section of the interviews focused on the Masters 2 CompSc/Engg, Adult participants’ experience with web communication Edn technologies. With the web continuing to play a growing role in everyday life, the research sought to understand the participants’ familiarity with it. Usage of Web 2.0 Ph.D 1 Edn & technologies was limited to a basic understanding of the Leadership words blogs, wikis, tagging, etc. Most participants identified themselves as dabbling and curious but not Table 1: Educational Background focused on the technology. Experience with web communication technologies other than Adobe Connect The participants came from diverse professional included WebX, Horizon, Skype and Netmeeting. Two backgrounds as listed in Table 2. Two of them were staff video centric technologies, Mediasite Live and Centra were assistants; one was a regional director in charge of multiple incorrectly identified as web communication technologies. counties across Pennsylvania after retiring from military service; one of them conducted training sessions on When asked how they choose to use Adobe Connect or different software applications such as Dreamweaver and another platform, the University support of Adobe Connect Microsoft Office products and also provided technical and ease of use was cited by 88% of the participants. The support; another taught an online course; one was an one outlier did not use Adobe Connect because of educational technologist; one was currently a research operating system compatibility issues. Participants grant writer with experience in web designing after appreciated that the access, setup and structure of the working in the area of conservation in a zoo; one was staff Adobe Connect event relies on them and not an outside member in a human resource office; and one was working resource. In addition, the costs to entry with Adobe as a part of research network for the UNIX and LINUX Connect are minimal with few technology requirements. systems. Thus, the diversity of their perspectives on the The alternative tools were also identified as free and subject of the study enabled the research team to generate lightweight. well rounded and generalizable interpretations as far as generalizing to the sample is concerned. Usage of Adobe Connect Job No. of Participants The interviewees’ experience with using Adobe Connect Description ranged from two and a half years (since pilot) to as little as one month. Seven of them were mostly Hosts and Presenters. Three had also played the role of Staff Asst. 2 Participant. One interviewee had played with all the roles during the pilot run. They generally used Adobe Connect IT Related Jobs 4 for sharing documents, demonstrating a PowerPoint (Web Designer, Edl Technologist, presentation and sharing their desktop during meetings or Programmer/Analyst, Technical trainings. If they did not need to share they could either use Support, IT Training) conference calling or just pick up the phone. One participant used Adobe Connect in conjunction with Ph.D Student-Instructor in 1 conference call for audio. One participant mentioned trying IT this strategy but found it “crazy”. This was generally done when some of the meeting participants did not have microphones. They found Adobe Connect helpful for Regional Director 1 training purposes, holding meetings with groups of people and researchers at other institutions. Table 2: Professional Background 5
  6. 6. Participants liked the following features: problems. They also mentioned challenges due to dial-up • Chat networks and problems with sharing microphones when • File Share more than 5 people were involved in a meeting. • Desktop Sharing • Polling features Most of the participants were aware of the Adobe Connect • Sessions recorded and reused asynchronously PSU Forum and web resources. With the exception of two, • Set up independent from IT the participants utilized it and feel comfortable posting However they did not like technical issues with audio and questions. felt that the need for adjustment to listening to delayed A majority of the participants utilize the desktop sharing responses in audio could turn off some people from using it with minimal concern for security. Participants identified rather than using the phone. The full screen mode was that in the past they had utilized NetMeeting and have difficult to toggle. Also the attendee list did not provide found Adobe Connect as an improved resource. anonymity. It was difficult to add an attendee as a guest. There were also cross platform compatibility issues. The All of the active Adobe Connect participants preferred to desktop sharing feature could be used only across Mac and personalize their layout within Adobe Connect. They Windows operating systems. Also, videos files could not displayed enthusiasm in how they could move the pods and be uploaded. If groups got larger than five people it was put their personal preferences in place. Some emphasized difficult to have a discussion. Most of them reported not the customized entrances and personalized approaches they having any breakdowns except when there was a give to the look upon entrance, identifying that it sets the “connection issue related to the infrastructure of the tone for the meeting. Only one interviewee did not use the hardware and not due to the Adobe Connect software” layout mode but this was because her co-instructor took such as in the case of a storm. care of it. Participants often described other’s impression of using In regards to the features, Figure 4 lists the usage of Adobe Connect positively. They observed that the comfort features as rated by the participants. Chat was the most level of new users only increased with frequency of use. A widely used feature followed closely by video and few participants complained of new user’s impatience with fileshare. The Q&A feature was the least popular, followed new technology and lack of equipment such as cameras and by Poll, Whiteboard and Notes, respectively. There was microphones as reasons for the under utilization of Adobe only one participant who used the Q&A “always”. The Connect. remaining participants reported “never” using Q&A, citing they were unfamiliar or unaware of the feature. The Audio It was encouraging to see that overall, participants felt that was Adobe Connect was indeed useful and a great cost savings tool. Though one participant valued face-to-face interaction over Adobe Connect, most participants wanted to motivate more users to utilize Adobe Connect. They suggested leader support, fund allocation, involving faculty members along with increased training and demonstrations to a wider audience. Most importantly, a participant commented on maintaining higher speed, reliability and quality of the bandwidth connection along with dedicated service to help reduce technical issues, thereby encouraging greater use. While four participants used LAN connections, some participants also used Cable and DSL connections and have attended Adobe Connect meetings with users on Dial up connections. One participant also experimented with wireless networks. Figure 4: Participant Identified Feature Usage Rate One of the recurring and most common technical problems never used by two participants but those who did use it experienced by the participants was audio feedback delay. reported “always” using it. While two participants claimed to have never experienced any technical issues, some complained of an occasional FINDINGS video freeze while screen sharing during the pilot. One of Web Communication Technologies allow people to interact the participants commented on how large number of users and collaborate while minimizing or removing the factor of always tended to pull down the network and cause latency geographic dispersion. Adobe Connect provides the Penn 6
  7. 7. State Community this service. In an effort to answer the Organizational support can also be utilized in increasing initial research question, the findings are discussed in two awareness. Participants note that awareness of Adobe categories: benefits and challenges of Adobe Connect Connect influences its adoption. One user noted “I think within the Penn State Community. most people are unaware of its capabilities. I did not use it until I had to because of bad past experiences (with Pigtail Benefits of Adobe Connect and Centra)”. This same user now finds Adobe Connect Collaboration technology works well for standardized invaluable in meeting settings with remote attendees. practices such as announcements and presentations [6]. Similar feedback from other participants speaks to a This has been true in the case of Adobe Connect especially potential marketing need to promote adoption at Penn in departments that use it for the purpose of training. One State. of the interviewees was excited to use Adobe Connect to The second challenge of Adobe Connect is technical. The conduct her meetings with the extension educators. She had research revealed that Adobe Connect is not always a high level of familiarity and comfort with Adobe Connect feasible because of bandwidth limitations. Though Penn and had claimed to use it quite often as a host. They would State itself has a high bandwidth network, similar “customize the meeting room for training, create a Lobby universities have made efforts to improve bandwidth issues with welcome note and learning objectives, analysis to prove the long-term economic viability [15]. Some layout... and use poll pod". participants of Adobe Connect are located outside the Penn Most of the interviewees were using Adobe Connect to State network, where there is variation in bandwidth. This conduct online meetings and courses with remote can create hurdles in the communication causing participants. They found it "good for training purposes" disruptions in the audio. Participants had various levels of and useful for "remote meetings with groups of frustration with the bandwidth issues. One said that "There people/researchers at other institutions". There are are audio issues - sometimes I can be heard sometimes I altogether about 67 extension offices spread across the am not - like fading in and out. Sometimes audio recording state so "the extension educators find it wonderful". has not worked.” Whereas another felt that “Audio A couple of participants were excited about using the feedback is a huge problem, dial-up can have bandwidth recording feature in Adobe Connect. One of them recorded issues“. There were however, instances where some the training sessions, which were then utilized by the participants tried to work around this problem: “You got to attendees to review the sessions asynchronously. Absences learn how to adjust according to the bandwidth to make it to meetings no longer meant the content was not comfortable to other participants. Takes practice to adjust communicated; people who missed the session could view to the delay between the time you speak to the time to hear it later. the response.” All participants reported using file sharing and 5 out of 8 Generally in situations where there was a variation in the reported using desktop sharing. Sharing was by far bandwidth connection of the participants, the Lowest perceived as the most important feature of Adobe Connect. Common Denominator, or the slowest connection would One participant commented that if he did not need to share, decide the efficacy of the meeting. Participants would try to he would prefer using the phone. overcome this problem by using additional tools for communication. “Sometimes the interaction and the new Challenges of Adobe Connect technology are overwhelming to our users so we still have All of our participants had positive feedback for Adobe the phone as a backup in case they want to ask questions Connect in various areas. Participants also noted areas of instead of using the chat...but in our small group we use challenges. Adobe Connect’s usage at Penn State faces audio, chat... there is a different interface and a different three main categories of challenges: organizational, mentality of using the tool between the two groups". technical, and social. Users also found it difficult to manage sessions when the The support of organization has always been acknowledged number of attendees increased especially when it involved as playing a key role in the successful adoption and discussions. It was felt that about 4-5 attendees were ideal implementation of technology. One participant commented for meetings/courses that involved discussions. “As the that sometimes he has had to cancel a meeting because the number of attendees increases the picture becomes smaller other attendees (in leadership ranks) did not have the and smaller and then it is difficult to hold a proper equipment (microphones and web cams). The leadership discussion." Moreover, there were technical issues that should encourage adoption by setting a role model for their arose as the number of attendees increased. “Large number subordinates. "I think its (Adobe Connect) underutilized of participants pull down network, takes longer time, because meetings occur where a few of them did not have microphone is not used effectively.” However, one the equipment - so if the leadership of the organization is participant reported using Adobe Connect for anywhere not using the technology, the people in that organization between 12-20 attendees for training sessions. The same will also not use it either." participant also used Adobe Connect for online meetings 7
  8. 8. with up to 5 attendees. Finally, utilizing the findings of this research, future efforts could use the socio-technical framework to frame The final challenge for Adobe Connect is social. Several challenges discovered. The socio-technical theory (STT) research efforts note that the more personal the interaction emerged from the work of the Tavistock Institute in the needs are the less likely technology will offer a satisfying British coal mining industry in the 50s [2]. The theory was solution. They state that nothing can replace face-to-face an approach to the analysis and design of organizational communications [6,11,17]. As pointed out by Lehman et al structures. The failure of many of the experiments in the and Hughes et al., the main issue for teachers in online UK coal industry to take hold was seen by Tavistock classrooms has been that they were not in a “real” researchers as a sign that the social aspect was not fully classroom with “real” students [11, 15]. Similarly, although addressed in the organizational structure design. most users of Adobe Connect found it very useful, they agreed that it couldn’t replace face-to-face interaction. One The STS approach STS [5] argues that any design/redesign interviewee valued face-to-face interaction to such an of work system must deal jointly with the technical and extent that he/she was not willing to encourage the social systems – two jointly independent, but correlative adoption of Web 2.0 technologies. Another felt that Adobe interacting systems that make up a “work system.” The Connect was a great tool that reduced his travel time and technical sub-system is concerned with the processes, cost. However, it was still important for him to meet with tasks, and technology necessary to transform inputs to his colleagues face-to-face since "nothing can ever replace outputs. The social sub-system is concerned with the face-to-face". attributes of people (eg, attitudes, skills, and values), the relationships among people, reward systems, and authority LIMITATIONS structures. It is assumed that the outputs of the work The findings illustrated benefits and challenges within system are the result of joint interactions between these two Adobe Connect. The research is bound by the small sub-systems. Thus, any design or redesign of a work sample size of the data. The research question attempted to system must deal with both systems in an integrated form. gather an initial landscape of Adobe Connect within the The environmental subsystem can also be considered by Penn State Community. Taking the Penn State taking into account customers, suppliers, and the rules and Community’s size into account, to portray a true image of regulations, formal and informal, which govern the Adobe Connect a much larger population is needed. This relations of the organization to society at large. research is therefore limited to acknowledging initial themes in the findings. Further efforts can be made from A single technology can be used in many, and sometimes the groundwork of this research and further detail is unexpected, ways. However, in each different use, the available within implications. technology is embedded in a complex set of other IMPLICATIONS technologies, physical surroundings, people, procedures, It is important to acknowledge that the consequences of etc. that together make up the socio-technical system [8]. technological implementation evolve over time. In such a Only by understanding the system can we parse out the context, groupware that offers technology for broader and issues surrounding its effective implementation. Future more open participation in collaborative tasks is seen as work can study the different contextual surroundings of both promising and threatening. Adobe Connect users and how it impacted their The findings also speak to reinvention or the process of motivations for adoption. From this study, we found that users working through for themselves the nature of their the tool was mostly used for meetings, training sessions tools and how they are to be used [4]. The users of Adobe and course delivery. Each of these required different Connect, the faculty, staff and students, can be seen as tool combinations of features in the layout mode and different re-inventors who define what the tools do in practice and adjustments to the bandwidth. Future work can be the effect they have on the context. addressed towards investigating the unique issues surrounding the different types of usage. Some of the Evaluation criteria to examine the usability of Adobe participants felt constrained by privacy and security issues. Connect can also be generated. In their paper on Future study can also find out if these concerns are valid comparison of usage evaluation and inspection methods for and how they can be overcome. assessing groupware usability, Potts et al have created a “Mechanics of Collaboration”. They study the usability of The baseline research identifying the benefits and a groupware based on the following: Explicit challenges of Adobe Connect with the Penn State Communication, Implicit Communication, Coordination of Community offers a foundation for further research into the Action, Planning, Monitoring, Assistance and Protection social realms of its application. We believe that our [21]. Future research could frame the findings with the research aids in further investigation of the following: “Mechanics of Collaboration” for greater clarity of Adobe Connect’s usage. 1. What are the barriers to the effective use of Adobe 8
  9. 9. Connect? 11. Harker, E.J, Ellis, C.O, Harraf, A, Richards, M.D. a) Technical barriers? (2005). Pioneering the Potential of IP Video: b) Social Barriers? Integrating Macromedia Breeze Live and Breeze Presentation Software into a Learning Environment. 2. What changes would need to be made to the Proceedings of the 2005 UCEA conference: Looking technical and social realms for Adobe Connect to be more West: Adventures, Challenges, and Opportunities. widely accepted/used. 12. Hughes, C. & Hewson L. (1998) Online Interactions: Developing a neglected aspect of the virtual classroom, CONCLUSION Educational Technology V4 , Englewood Cliffs, N.J. This study is a formative evaluation to guide the Adobe Connect community at Penn State to broaden and increase 13. Gutwin, C. and Greenberg S., (2002), A Descriptive the effectiveness of the usage of this tool in their work Framework of Workspace Awareness for Real-Time practices. We hope that the findings will be used by Groupware, Computer Supported Cooperative Work 11, designers to guide improvements in the features of the tool. pp. 411-446, Netherlands, Kluver Academic publishers. 14. Kellogg, W.A., et al. 2006. Leveraging digital ACKNOWLEDGMENTS backchannels to enhance user experience in We thank the Penn State Information Technology Services electronically mediated communication. Proceedings of department for aiding us in accessing the Penn State Adobe CSCW 2006 (pp. 451-460). Connect Community. 15. Land, F.F., (2000), Evaluation in a Socio-Technical REFERENCES Context, in Basskerville, R., Stage, J., and DeGross, 1. The Adobe Acrobat Connect Datasheet. J.I., Organizational and Social Perspectives on Information Technology, pp.115- 126, Boston, Kluwer ductinfo/datasheet/ Accessed on Oct 10, 2007. Academic Publishers. 2. Badham, R., Clegg, C. and Wall, T., 2000, (I) Socio- 16. Lehman, J.D, Phillion, J, (2004). Bridging Classroom technical Theory, in W.Karwowski (Ed.), Handbook of Diversity to the Campus: Technology as a Tool for Ergonomics, John Wiley, New York. Linking Pre-Service teachers to Diverse Classrooms at a Distance. Presented at the annual meeting of the 3. Beldarrain, Y. "Distance Education Trends: Integrating American Association of Colleges of Teacher new technologies to foster student interaction and Education, IL. collaboration. " Distance Education 27.2 (2006): 139- 153. Education Module. ProQuest. 15 Nov. 2007 17. Mason, J. (2002). Qualitative Researching (2nd ed.). London: SAGE Publications. 4. Bikson, T. and J. D. Eveland (1996). Groupware Implementation: Reinvention in the Sociotechnical 18. Merrill E. Warkentin, Lutfus Sayeed, Ross Hightower Frame. CSCW 96, Conference on Computer Supported (1997) Virtual Teams versus Face-to-Face Teams: An Cooperative Work, New York, ACM: 428-437. Exploratory Study of a Web-based Conference System, Decision Sciences 28 (4), 975–996. 5. Bostrom, R. and Heinen, S., “MIS Problems and Failures: A Socio-Technical Perspective PART I: THE 19. Patrick Jermann, Amy Soller, and Martin Muehlenbrock CAUSES”, MIS Quarterly, September, 1977. (2005). From Mirroring to Guiding: A Review of State of the Art Technology for Supporting Collaborative 6. Bradner, E. Mark, G, Social presence with video and Learning. International Journal of Artificial Intelligence application sharing, Proceedings of the 2001 in Education, Volume 15, Number 4: 261 – 290 International ACM SIGGROUP Conference on Supporting Group Work, Sept 30-OCt 3, 2001, Boulder, 20. Penn State University, Penn State’s Mission and Public Colorado, USA Charter. Accessed on November 29, 2007. 7. Centra Datasheet Accessed on Nov 28, 2007. 21. Potts Steves, M., Morse, E., Gutwin C., Greenberg, S., A comparison of usage evaluation and inspection 8. Why a Socio-Technical System? methods for assessing groupware usability, Proceedings of the 2001 International ACM SIGGROUP. _tech_system.html. Accessed on December 13, 2007. 22. Rowe S, Ellis, A (2006). The evolution of 9. Conference on Supporting Group Work, September 30- Audiographics: A Case study of Audiographics October 03, 2001, Boulder, Colorado, USA. teaching in a Business Faculty. Proceedings of the 23rd 10. Ellis, C.A., Gibbs, S.J., Rein, G. Groupware: Some annual Ascilite conference: Who’s learning? Whose Issues and Experiences, Communications of the ACM, technology? 707- 716. v. 34 n.1, p.39-58, Jan. 1991. 9
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  11. 11. Appendix 1 INTERVIEW QUESTIONS GUIDELINE The purpose of this study is to investigate the existing user community associated with Adobe Connect, both at University Park and at other campuses. The following interview questions will cover three categories designed to aid in identifying trends that arise while utilizing Adobe Connect. Education and Skills What is your academic background (i.e. Computer Science, Geography, etc)? Please share a brief history of your career path. What computer/ OS do you use? What do you consider your computer/technical expertise? (i.e. light user: email, web, etc; developer: web development, database etc.) Web Communication Technologies What experience do you have with web 2.0 technologies (i.e. IM, blogs, wikis, etc)? Have you used web communication technologies other than Adobe Connect? If yes, what technology? Which do you prefer/how do you choose which to apply? Do you have access to other alternatives such as video conferencing? What drives the decision to use Adobe Connect versus other video conferencing alternatives? Adobe Connect Usage How long have you been using Adobe Connect? For what purpose would you use/not use Adobe Connect? Please describe some of the features you like/dislike in Adobe Connect What role do you usually play in the Adobe Connect meetings? eg. participant, Host/ presenter? How many people do you generally use Adobe Connect to collaborate with? Please describe your impressions on how other users are perceiving this tool Do you think Adobe Connect is useful? How can users be motivated to use it more? What bandwidth connection do you have access to when using Adobe Connect? Does it allow you to use all features? Have you ever experienced technical problems and of what kind while using Adobe Connect? How often, if at all do you use the Adobe Connect website resources? Do you think they are helpful? eg. forums etc. Have you ever shared your desktop using Adobe Connect? If yes, why and did you find it helpful? If No, why? eg. don't know how or are not comfortable etc. Which layout do you generally prefer to use? Have you ever customized it? Which of the following pods do you use in your collaborative sessions and how frequently?: video conferencing Audio Chat Notepad White board File upload eg. powerpt presentation 11