What is Breeze?
  1. Web based application that enables individuals/groups to communicate synchronously with others via the Internet using video, audio, text, and presentation of instructor's screen (similar to PowerPoint screen) all within one interface (like having all the ITV screens appear on the computer screen). See screen shot below (taken from Adobe Breeze Meeting Experience example):
    screen shot showing Breeze presentation
  2. Transmitted to & received from any computer in any location that has Internet connection (broadband necessary for effective use). Teacher must have microphone, can have camera. Ideally end users have microphone (camera not essential) for synchronous communication.
  3. Technology requirements: Computer with access to the Internet, preferably broadband; browser; speakers to hear audio; microphone (to contribute audio); web camera to contribute video; Flash plug in; phone at remote locations if users want to participate in the discussion (works better than using computer microphone and audio transmission, but users report that this option also does not always provide adequate quality of sound).
Why use Breeze?
  1. When it is necessary for teacher & learners to be in different locations at same time, but do not want to/need to/not able to travel to specific location to receive or send transmission (as is the case for ITV where users must participate from an ITV facility).
  2. Low cost.
  3. Users require only basic computer technology.
  4. More widely available & accessible than ITV (thus more flexibility for users: no need to travel to transmission/reception site).
  5. Can view archived session later.
Advantages of Breeze
  1. Enables multiple individual learners to participate in multi-media synchronous learning experiences (as for ITV) but using computer to connect via Internet from any location world wide to instructor and other users from home/work or location easily accessible to them.
  2. Very interactive (audio, video, chat).
  3. Cross platform.
  4. Inexpensive hardware and connection (compared with ITV).
  5. Class sessions can be archived and accessed online later for review or by students who missed class.
Disadvantages of Breeze
  1. At UMD, Breeze connections have been poor, even using the campus broadband connection. Until this is stable and reliable it therefore cannot be used for teaching classes.
  2. Breeze is suitable for delivering a lecture, or lecture and some limited interaction with students at remote sites. However, it is not designed to enable teachers to use more interactive teaching methods in which students discuss amongst themselves and with the teacher. Students have reported feeling very disconnected from the instructor and other students when trying to participate in a class taught over Breeze. However, it may be that this is more of a result of teachers still being inexperienced and unskilled in teaching using Breeze. Similarly, students are not accustomed to learning via Breeze and may give up trying to make effective use of it both because of their lack of skills & unskilled teaching.
  3. Not accessible to screen readers and thus violates accessibility requirement for online learning.
Issues & problems related to Breeze
  1. Connection is still very unreliable, so that audio cuts in and out. Until this is stable and reliable it therefore cannot be used for teaching classes.
  2. Because use of this technology is still in its infancy for teaching, faculty do not know how to teach effectively with it, and technical and instructional support for assisting faculty at UMD has yet to be developed.
  3. Unless a very high quality microphone is used and people who are speaking know to use the microphone/camera effectively so that remote viewers can hear and see them, much of the sound is inaudible to remote viewers.
  4. Significant extra steps have to be taken to provide alternatives (such as transcript of audio) so that sessions are accessible to all users.
  5. Having a telephone as a back up for remote users experiencing difficulties with hearing audio is not really helpful because quality of the sound over the phone (in being able to pick up the voices of the instructor and other speakers at the host site) is inadequate.
Emerging issues and tips related to Breeze
  1. Make sure that a technician is available at the site where the teacher is in order to ensure that the technology is functioning correctly.
  2. Use high quality microphone so that all people who are at the teaching site can be heard; additionally, make sure that person speaking faces the camera and the microphone.
  3. Email handouts that will be used in the session or make these available for download or online viewing on the web so that users can have these on hand during the session (even when the handout may be PowerPoint that is shown on the Breeze screen).

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