EV Online 2002_Webheads: Syllabus Week 3

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Webheads in Action:
Community formation online and its role in language learning

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Week 3 - Feb 8-14

Text, Voice and Video

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1. Finding buddies online: Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ ...

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2. Chatting with other evonline2002_webheads members

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3. Activating voice with Yahoo voice chat rooms

Download Yahoo Messenger here ...

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4. View each other's web cams on Yahoo Messenger

Writing for Webheads has documented its experiences with video chat here: http://sites.hsprofessional.com/vstevens/files/efi/vcommunity.htm#video
Teresa logs her web cam chats with Webheads here: http://www.malhatlantica.pt/teresadeca/webheadswebcamsessions.htm

On March 8, 2002, Aiden got her web cam working, Vance waking up bleary-eyed in Abu Dhabi happened to notice it on Yahoo Messenger, and as a result got to meet the kids ...

On the issue of the web cam - I am the next one in queue and I will buy it as soon as I get some recommendations from the Webheads. There is so much choice... Which one do you use? Would you buy it again? What should I look for? - Renata Chylinski

I am the one who ran to get a webcam as soon as I saw Vance on my screen. I bought a NGS videoconference USB camera. 320K pixels. It is a plug and play video capture device. Features: auto AWB, auto electronic exposure and auto gain compensation. These features will auto adjust, auto amend the hue and light of the picture. It can be used for video mail, video capture, video conference and pc multimedia. It can be used with microsoft software: Imaging, Mspaint and NetMeeting. The price is around 60$ (70 Euros).

This is the first time I have used a webcam, so I declare myselft illiterate in the subject, but I am very excited. So far I have made pictures of myself and my friends, recorded videos with voice, made cards with pictures and voice and send them via E-m. I haven´t used NetMeeting yet, but I am eager to do so. If you get one let me know and we can try NetMeeting. Cheers, Dafne

I have an Intel Pocket PC Camera, USB, whch takes and can store up to 120 640x480 snapshots or 2 minutes of pretty low quality video. But this is just icing on the cake, as it seems to give decent quality web cam video, which is what I really bought it for. It cost me around $40 here in Abu Dhabi. I could have had a web cam with no picture capture for half that price. - Vance

Dear friends: Another update on the webcam photos session page, this time with a big surprise! Take a look! It may take a little while, but it's worth it! Go to http://www.malhatlantica.pt/teresadeca/webheadswebcamsessions.htm

Have a nice day,


Problems in installing web cam? When I bought mine (Creative) I spent over a week installing and re-installing it without any success. One day I turn on my computer and it worked perfectly. I thought for a moment, how come that happened? It's still a mystery.

I didn't have to deal with why web cams don't work until yesterday. I'm not sure what caused my problem, but it developed on my Intel camera hooked up to my laptop. This is the camera I've been using for almost all our sessions with Webheads, but suddenly yesterday Yahoo would not recognize it and trying to launch it with its own software, I was told another device might be using video capture on my computer, so close it. There was no other device using video capture on my computer, nothing to close, and the web cam didn't work.

I tried reinstalling the cam from its cd. Later I found in reading documentation for both my web cams that it's important when installing USB web cams that you install the drivers, restart your PC, and THEN connect the USB device. I think I might have left the web cam plugged in when I tried to reinstall. What this does is cause Windows to detect the new hardware and try to find a driver before none is available. If you find yourself in this position, you should cancel the Windows wizard, unplug the device, install the drivers, restart, and then plug in your web cam to let Windows detect it. I didn't realize this at the time and fell into the trap, which is why I failed to resolve the problem on the spot.

Why would a web cam not work one day, and the next it works fine? This happened to me yesterday and today. I tried installing two cameras, one my Intel and the other a Creative one my son was using. Here's what you look for.

The Intel camera requires drivers for both the USB controllers and the camera, the Creative USB device installs only a driver for the cam. To see if your drivers are installed, right click on my computer, select properties, and select device manager. The driver for the cameras in both Intel and Creative were installed in the device manager under 'Imaging device'.

Now here's what confused me: these devices do not appear in the Device Manager until the camera is actually plugged in. There isn't even a category in the list for 'Imaging device' UNTIL the device is actually plugged in. In other words, I would install from the CDRom and then check device manager to see if the drivers were there. They weren't. I would then try to reinstall the drivers, and again not find them in the list. But now I know that once you plug in the device, the devices should appear in the list, one under Imaging device for either the Creative or Intel cam, and two additional drivers under USB controllers in the case of Intel. You can watch this happening if you keep the device manager open while plugging in the device.

When I finally figured out how to monitor the situation, and plugged in my Intel camera, I saw the device appear, but it had a yellow exclamation point over it, showing that the driver was loaded but not functioning. At that point a wizard appeared and was able to detect and install from the installation CDRom the same driver again, but after that it worked.

Now my Creative device is not being detected, but ma'alesh.

In the troubleshooting algorithm for Intel, it told me if I got the USB drivers but not the Imaging device driver then the problem was either defective cam or defective USB port. To check the USB port, install another USB device and see if it works (that's why I installed the Creative cam, which I got working). To check the malfunctioning cam, install it to another computer and see if it works there (I didn't have to, I was able to refresh my driver as mentioned above).

I hope this helps Webheads with troubleshooting your web cams.

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5. Voice and video chat on iVisit

Dafne's just bought a web cam (left). And Gary writes: "After Vance suggested it, I have been checking out iVisit (http://www.ivisit.com) software for synchronous text, audio and video chat. I am very impressed. It works on Windows and Mac, and users can easily set up their own chat rooms.

I created one for us that you can find on the following path: Education -> DistanceLearning ->More_Rooms -> Webheads. But it will disappear if not used for five days. NetMeeting only works with Windows, Yahoo messenger doesn't appear to allow voice and video for Macs. so iVisit seems the way to go for me (I usually use a Mac)."
Susanne writes: I was thrilled to see we have another Mac user in the group. Now, with the Ivisit software installed I might consider once more :-) I have a more detailed explanation on how to get to our working space in Ivisit (and now that I have been there before the five days delay, hopefully it will not expire yet.)
  1. go to the homepage http://www.ivisit.com
  2. download and install the software ( Windows or Macintosh computer systems)
  3. After installation, start the programme, find the menubar on top of your window, go to the Windows menu,
  4. choose, the Directory...
  5. and from the screen menu, find education / distance learning / more rooms / webheads /
  6. Even without a webcam, I would be able to see others performing with theirs, and use my microphone (just that today, this feature was obviously not possible for me to get familiar with. At least the possibility is there by now.
  7. You will get several frames on top of your screen Then to join the meeting, find the button with a red arrow and two orange stick figure men.
I suggest exploring iVisit and taking its Quick Tour. Claire Bradin Siskin (Director of the Language Lab of the University of Pittsburgh) invited me to take part in a teleconference last October and that's what we used. I remember that at a certain point I was chatting with people in Israel, the US, France, etc. Anybody can create a room (I think that's it!) and have a password. Anyway, it's a possibility. Some of us have already tried it. It has pure chat, voice chat and web cam chat.

After Vance's message about iVisit yesterday, I contacted my dear friend, Claire Siskin, about it. I'd like to share with you what she has to say (with her permission):

"In my experience, iVisit is fairly reliable for a chat with up to 10 or so participants. Occasionally the video "poofs" or disappears and the user has to re-connect. I don't know how it would be if there were more participants. I don't have enough experience with other software to be able to compare it."

Then I remembered that during our October teleconference Claire had to through out this pervert who suddenly showed up. So I also asked her how to deal with that. Here's her two cents:

"The weird people on iVisit . . . are a problem. They are supposed to stay in the "Romance" section, but they don't. In my experience, there are 3 ways of dealing with this. One is to have a password-protected room. The other is to have a moderator with a password who can "boot" people out if they don't behave. The other is to just ignore these people, and then they go away after a few minutes."

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6. Pal Talk

Yaodong in the other Webheads group has been pushing me to try Pal Talk, and for this session I finally managed to download a version that worked ok. Now that I've tried it out a bit, I like it a lot. It allows you to create chat rooms on the fly. That is, you can log on, click on Groups, choose a category such as Distance Learning, and create a room on the spot. You want to be sure and activate it for voice and video, and if you don't want strangers dropping by constantly, make it private. When you create it, you will be "in" it, and from there, you can invite anyone you want to join you (you have to Add them to your Pals list first, and when you click on Invite, your Pals currently online will appear in the list).

In your chatroom, you can speak to one another. You have to hold down ctrl to talk. There is a hands-free mode, but we've been warned not to use it because it's problematic (doesn't shut off, for example). Voice quality is quite good, better on a given day than Yahoo Messenger. Video seems to be better on Yahoo however. Still you can view up to three cameras. Those in your chat room who are running web cams will have icons by their names, and you can right-click on the name and select View Webcam. You can change the webcams shown in the three available windows as well.

Personally I've managed to view two at one time so far, and I've also experienced where the camera you view is freeze-framed, no motion, though at least you can see a picture which you can refresh from time to time.

Arthur and I tried it out on March 7, 2002:

Warning: Paltalk is a hungry program (eats up a lot of RAM). When you use it, be sure and save your work first. BJB lost some work today when her computer crashed as she attempted to run it, and it had crashed my computer as well a bit earlier. You can deal with it, just save all your data and close any programs you don't need before running it.

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7. Netmeeting via MSN Messenger

MSN Messenger, http://messenger.msn.com/, can give you one-on-one voice chat, and you can easily hold text chat conferences. One convenience of MSN Messenger is that you can check your Hotmail once you're logged on without having to re-enter your password (with Yahoo Messenger, you can access your Yahoo mail, but you have to re-enter your ID and password).

You can also launch Netmeeting through MSN Messenger. It is very convenient to do so because once you are already in an MSN chat with someone, each of your IP addresses is known, and there is no need to configure your connection as would be necessary if starting with a launch of Netmeeting. Netmeeting delivers reliably clear voice and video but a disadvantage when compared with Yahoo is that it is strictly one-on-one (unless you purchase server software).

Netmeeting is excellent for holding meetings from one PC to an audience who can view (by LCD projection for example) a PC at the other end. There is a whiteboard feature where both parties can see what the other is scribbling or pasting, in case one wants to project an image or graphic. If bandwidth is tight, video can be paused, allowing the voice, whiteboard, and text chat facilities to operate more smoothly.

The best way to initiate a Netmeeting session is to start with MSN Messenger and pull down Actions / Start netmeeting. This sends the invitation without any party having to know his/her own IP address. It happens very smoothly. If you send such an invitation, Netmeeting launches and your virtual phone rings, and you have to click on Accept to consumate the call. Voice comes on automatically but you have to click the right arrow to get your web cam to come on. Your web cam can appear as a small picture within the bigger one showing the person you are talking to and you can click that in and out. You can also text chat in Netmeeting, or continue your text chat in MSN Messenger, which will remain open throughout. There are a lot of things you can do with the whiteboard. You can either draw on it freehand or copy images from your computer and paste them there. If you get degradation in perfomance caused by video sucking up systems resources, find a nice frame and pause the video, then restart it only when you really need it. It's a neat psychological trick that once people have seen you moving and talking they are usually quite happy to view a paused video and listen to you talk clearly. Through process of closure, they relate the frozen image to the moving one. You can use this trick for example by delivering a lecture with video paused, and releasing the video while taking questions from the audience, then pausing to reply and so on.

Dafne was able to broadcast her voice and video on Netmeeting when we tried it, but was not able to receive mine. I can only guess that the ports she needed to receive such transmissions were blocked. Two disadvantages to Netmeeting are that it is only one-to-one (unless you purchase the server software to allow conferencing) and I suppose, that it uses ports that might be blocked.

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8. Yahoo and Netmeeting compared (plus Tapped In)

Yahoo on the other hand uses different protocols that are more firewall friendly. Therefore, Dafne and I were able to see and talk to each other using Yahoo. But one disadvantage to Yahoo is that it sends the voice and video in the same packets during transmission (this is why it gets across firewalls I think). Therefore, unless your processor is powerful and your bandwidth high, you will get degredation of voice when broadcasting video. We have been experimenting, and pausing video doesn't seem to help much. Once we've turned the web cam off, voice quality improves dramatically. Another big advantage to using Yahoo with groups such as ours is that you can have a voice conference and the web cams can be viewed by many. To view someone's web cam, look in your list of buddies online. If someone has a web cam up ( - and has allowed anyone to view it; this CAN be controlled through Login/Preferences/Webcam - ) then you should see a hot link next to that person's name, and when you click on it you can view the cam.

You can also specifically invite someone to view your web cam and that puts a message on that person's computer (Tools/Invite to view my webcam). If s/he accepts, the video view comes on after a minute or so. You can invite multiple people by separating their names by commas, like this: vance_stevens,ritazeinstejer,ismailfayed and so on. To web cam conference you have to actually write the names in, but to start a voice conference, you can select them from your list of who's online and ADD them to the conference. You can add people to an ongoing conference by returning to that interface and just adding them (Tools/Invite to conference - it took us a while to find that feature, which seems obvious now).

Sometimes during voice chat, someone's voice will pop out. If it happens during a conference, that person can leave the conference and be reinvited (Tools/Invite to conference - I think anyone can invite to a conference, doesn't have to be the person who started the conference). That will often restore their voice. If it's a one on one voice chat, close the chat window and reinitiate it, and that sometimes restores services. It is common for the voice server to go off the air occasionally. It's not perfect, but it works quite well considering it works for free.

In order to see anyone else in Yahoo, they have to be in your buddy list. On our community page, you can find each other's Yahoo IDs and request to add them to your list of who's visible to you. It's a good idea to include a message so the person knows who you are and that you're with the EVOnline session.

You can send a message to anyone in your list at any time and they will get the message when they return to their computer. For example, if you see Dafne in Be Right Back status, you can send her a message and she might get back to you when she returns.

Did you guys try Tapped In as well? You should be able to easily be in both Tapped In and Yahoo Messenger, and Tapped In is a good place to meet. There's a Who's Online button you can click to see who else is 'in the building'. You can either /join that person or /page him or her. So maybe it would be a good idea if you're going to have a meeting online, if you try to be at Tapped In too.

Sometimes Yahoo doesn't work either because they're doing maintenance on their server or maybe there's a problem where the person is trying to connect from. I've got to apologize for myself because this past week Yahoo has been down at my office. So in the schedule I've offered to be online, and I usually would be, though maybe not right at my computer. But this past week it's been impossible through our LAN (and it's really disrupting our inter-office communications, so I wish they'd fix it, but what can you do).

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9. Others

Groove: Another client to try is http://www.groove.net. Michael and I tried it one on one and found it pretty good for voice and coordinated browsing.

Pure Voice: Elizabeth Hanson-Smith writes about PureVoice editing features: One BIG advantage of PV is that you can insert edits into a voice message. This means that a student can send you a v-mail, and you can then make pronunciation suggestions by inserting into the sound file! IS that a cool technology or what? Elizabeth H-S. [Nov 2002 Elizabeth reminds us about the"free technology from PureVoice. The software can be downloaded at http://www.cdmatech.com/solutions/products/purevoice.html ] and Christine Bauer-Ramazani [also Nov 2002} provides these links: Here is the download page: http://www.cdmatech.com/solutions/products/purevoice_download.html Here's the FAQ page: http://www.cdmatech.com/solutions/products/purevoice_faq.html

Pure Voice has the advantage that you can edit the recording and include your comments within the message the students have recorded. I read about it in this paper: "Technology and the Teaching of Oral Skills" by Marsha Chan, from Mission College and Sunburst Media." The paper was delivered at CATESOL 2002 Colloquium: Technology: A New Era in Learning, held on March 15. You can get the paper (a word document) at a Yahoo Group that was created by Elizabeth Hanson-Smith as a follow-up to this Colloquium. the URL is: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tech_New_Era/?yguid=78742542

Download Pure Voice from http://www.eudora.com/purevoice/pluginDL.html; it works on PC and Macs

Hi everyone,

I originally posted this information on the "Human CALL" Yahoo site a couple of weeks ago, in response to Dafne's request/frustration with WIMBA. I still think WIMBA has great possibilities (much like Blackboard) for people with less programming skill and time for coding. However, PureVoice does offer some wonderful options, especially in the newer version.

I first used PureVoice with my students in April 2000: http://www.svsu.edu/~afreed/chubu. Click on a student's face and the page will open and 'autoplay' an .AIFF file in QuickTime. These soundfiles were recorded with PureVoice on Mac G3s (in a large and noisy computer lab, unfortunately) and saved in .AIFF format.

I would like to continue to use PureVoice with Windows, as I am now in a PC environment -- but the program no longer offers me the .AIFF option (for Windows), only .WAV -- which is bulky and awful. I have managed to convert the .QCP file (PureVoice default) to a QT .MOV file... but not easily.

In any event, I'd still recommend PV for Mac environments but, unless you intend to keep the files in .QCP format (the PV file format) and have all participants download and use the Purevoice software*, I find it to have limited use on PCs. (*Don't discount this option! Read on!!!)

Still, having audio journals submitted via Blackboard's Digital Dropbox (or e-mail) beats handling audio cassettes any day (have you ever dropped 15 cassettes down the stairs? Not pretty!). And you can 'insert' and edit directly into a student's audio file (if that's your style...).

If you're going to be in Salt Lake City, drop by the Electronic Village and ask Greg Kessler, (the man-in-charge) for more info on this subject; he's been using PureVoice with his students in this manner for quite some time. In fact, Ohio University's OPIE ( http://www.ohiou.edu/esl/teacher/index.html ) has had PureVoice installed in their *CALL lab since (at least) 1999; students can easily access the software, complete their homework, and listen to their teacher's comments -- in the comfort of the university's CALL lab.

To download PureVoice go to: http://www.cdmatech.com/solutions/products/purevoice_download.html. However, if you'd like to learn more about the software BEFORE downloading, visit: http://www.cdmatech.com/solutions/products/purevoice.html

Hope this was helpful,

Arlyn Freed

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ChatsHomestead text chat or leave a message | GroupBoard text chat, whiteboard, and guestbook | Tapped In - /join VanceS in Office N2201, North Wing, 22nd Floor or /join JohnSte | Palaces – avatar text chat at plantation.chatserve.com and mycorner.xsia.com, both on port 9998 | Active Worlds – animated avatar 3D text chat
Discussion forums – voice: Wimba voice discussion board | text: Delphi Forum
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Last updated: November 28, 2003 in Hot Metal Pro 6.0
(C)opyright 2003 Vance Stevens