We’ve added two new apps to our BCcampus Sandbox Environment as part of our effort to support exploration into new technologies and potential new shared services for the B.C. system.
The first is Etherpad. Etherpad is a collaborative document authoring platform. It was purchased a few years back (and subsequently open sourced) by Google, and some of the patterns of use it supports eventually showed up in Google Docs. I believe it is of potential interest as a collaborative platform for student work, and as there continue to be privacy concerns about using US-based apps. A larger install of Etherpad may well prove a reasonable alternative to the difficulties in using Google Docs in our classes. You can try out the sandbox install of etherpad at abbott.bccampus.ca:9001/
The second app we’ve installed in our sandbox due to popular demand is Big Blue Button (a.k.a. BBB). BBB is pretty much an open source “clone” of Elluminate and supports multi-party synchronous discussions, slide sharing, whiteboards, etc. While both Adobe Connect and Elluminate (a.k.a. Blackboard Collaborate) have been successfully supported as BCcampus Shared Services, there have been numerous requests for us to explore this alternative, both as an option to license fees and, in the case of Elluminate, as an option to a non-US-hosted solution. You can try BBB at abbott.bccampus.ca.
These two apps join a growing list of applications available for testing and evaluation on our sandbox server. Note – these applications are installed for evaluation purposes only; they are not supported and should not in ANY circumstance be used in real-life teaching and learning circumstances. If you are interested in seeing one of these applications brought forward as a potential pilot, please join us for our upcoming General Shared Service Meeting November 3, 2011 at the Kwantlen Richmond Campus where the state of existing shared services will be discussed, and you can find out what new teaching and learning applications your sister institutions are interested in too.