Navigate: Delivery Methods and the Synchronous Vendor Market Quest

posted May 17, 2016, 7:43 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 8:11 AM ]
This was an interesting treasure hunt.  I started the quest believing that Google Hangout was the best option because it was free and (let's be honest) because it was the only option that I'd actually heard of before.  I looked at a few of the sites and composed this table, just to help me make sense of all of the information:
For the first four options, it was easy to fill in the table because they were reviewed on a few websites, so it was easy to compile the information.  The last option is the most intriguing, yet I wasn't able to fill out the table as easily as the others.  There are a few reasons for this, the biggest is that the software is marketed to schools and districts and not individuals.  For this reason, I would have to guess that it is expensive, so they want you to fall in love with the software and then hit you with the price tag, which I would be willing to bet is hefty.  With that being said, it was the most full-featured of the software programs that I compared.

From an education perspective, it seems like Blackboard would be the obvious choice, if budget wasn't an option and the teachers weren't footing the bill for the software.  If I wanted to cobble together a synchronous learning platform to accompany my current flipped classroom, I would probably use Google Hangout even though GoToMeeting had excellent reviews.  There are a couple reasons I would choose Google Hangout for my current classes: 
  1. Cheap.  Public school students do not have a lot of money.  At least, we cannot assume that they do.  So a software that is free is important.  Additionally, teachers don't have a lot of money either, so free is nice for that too.  I don't mind spending money on my classroom, but if I spend too much on my classroom, then I can't do things like buy groceries and pay the electric bill, so free goes a long way with me.
  2. Students are pretty familiar with Google and so the learning curve for them would be less steep with something like Google Hangout than GoToMeeting.  Additionally, they don't have to install anything, they simply have to go to the Hangout website.
Overall, in an ideal world, Blackboard Collaborate seems like the best option.  It seems like it can do many more tasks than simply provide a place for synchronous learning.  However, I would be willing to bet it is pricey.  If students and teachers are responsible for footing the bill, Google Hangout would have to do.
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