News: Acquisition of Webinar/Webconferencing Solution

Official Memo at: http://www.provost.utoronto.ca/public/pdadc/2012_to_2013/29.htm.

We are pleased to announce the recent acquisition of Bb Collaborate software as an institutional Webinar/Webconferencing solution.

Collaborate allows for the creation of live (synchronous) “virtual” classrooms and meetings, where participants can remotely access audio, video, presentations, whiteboards, live polling and shared desktops, among other features.

Virtual rooms have been gaining in popularity in various UofT departments over the past few years, including for use in professional development, and for online learning. Until now, departments have had to pay for solutions directly, and in the absence of a University-wide standard, we¹ve seen the use of many different products, which has made ongoing support more difficult and which has increased the overall cost to the University for these kinds of services.

Our site license allows for university-wide use for both internal activities (e.g. course delivery), as well as external use (e.g. hosting virtual conferences) ­ all at no cost to departments or divisions as a result of funding from the Office of the Provost.

Internal virtual sessions can be directly, securely and easily integrated and delivered through our Learning Portal, and external sessions and meetings can be created without the need to assign UTorIDs to guests. And as an added bonus, sessions can be recorded for later playback and use as video-on-demand.

For the past two years, the University has been making a commitment to deploy a wider range of resources through the concept of a ‘teaching & learning toolkit,’ and this acquisition of Collaborate is another piece to that initiative, joining the acquisition of lecture capture and peer assessment technologies. And, as a by-product of the procurement process, these new tools are also available for more administrative tasks within the University of Toronto (for example, virtual business meetings, candidate interviews, etc.)

An implementation team with representatives from the Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation, Information + Technology Services, and the University of Toronto Libraries will be working with divisions on getting the new webinar solution deployed as quickly as possible, including developing an ongoing support strategy.

More information on this initiative and other related academic technology initiatives will be posted at http://uoft.me/edtech and IT staff will be updated via regular communication channels. Deployment and system queries can be directed to Marco Di Vittorio from CTSI, who will be managing the implementation phase of this project (ati@utoronto.ca), and starting in the new year (2013), individual requests to use the software should be directed to portal.help@utoronto.ca.

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