Using Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional for eLearning

Category: eLearning Published on 13 Jul, 2007 Tags: , , , , , , , ,

We recently implemented Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional at work. We have employees located in all 50 states, and our department needed a way to conduct training via virtual classroom. I thought I’d write a little about our experience with the application, how we use it, and discuss some of its pros and cons in terms of eLearning.

What is it Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional?

I’ll let Adobe give you the long definition:

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is the complete web communications solution that enables live online meetings, virtual classes, and group collaboration, allowing organizations to effectively share a wide range of content, including Microsoft® PowerPoint slides, live and recorded video, Adobe Flash® content, live screen-sharing, application sharing, audio, and multiuser text chat.

I would simply say that it’s a robust web conferencing tool that can also be used to administer virtual classroom sessions.

What’s in a Name?

Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional was originally called Macromedia Breeze. Then Adobe purchased Macromedia and began integrating Breeze with their Acrobat product line. I think Adobe Connect would have been a great name, but instead they went with Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. Seriously – 4 words? Can you imagine Toyota introducing a car called the Toyota Camry Avalon Turbo? Seems like a bit much. Luckily, the product stands up really well. So I’ll get past the naming issue. :)

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional has a clean, simple, and flexible interface; you can create different layouts (we call them ‘rooms’) and then arrange a variety of pods in each room. There are chat pods, file/screen sharing pods, survey pods, note pods, and more.
  • LDAP integration allows us to use our company’s single sign-on system, so we don’t have to manage additional usernames and passwords.
  • It is very easy to schedule meetings.
  • Wonderful phone conferencing integration is possible with Premiere Global Services. Users can opt to have the system call their phone to join the phone conference, and then they can adjust their audio settings (volume, muting, etc.) using on-screen controls. The facilitator can also mute participants and control other aspects of phone conferencing (ex. dial-out to other users).
  • As a facilitator, you can share your screen (desktop) and even give control to a participant. So you can have somebody else "drive" the session for you.

Cons:

  • This product is very expensive, especially if you host it in-house.
  • If you decide to host it in-house, you’ll most likely need to go through a third-party to get it implemented. Anticipate the extra expense. We used GetConnect and had a good experience.
  • It’s tricky to integrate Acrobat Connect Professional with your learning management system (LMS). Here’s our current workflow: First, learners register for a course in our LMS. Next, we hold our virtual classroom sessions and the learners attend. Finally, we go back to the LMS and indicate which learners attended and what score they achieved (if applicable).

The Toughest Part

The toughest part about a system like this is learning how to use it effectively for learning / training. Ultimately, your facilitators will have to push themselves to identify new ways to engage learners using this delivery method. Here are a few resources to help facilitators jump into virtual classroom training:

Give it a shot

If you’re evaluating web conferencing or virtual classroom products, check out Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. It’s a great product that’ll make it easier for you to deliver effective training. Our users agree, too. We’ve heard nothing but great feedback from them. They tell us that it was a breeze (get it?) to attend, and they enjoyed the interaction during the sessions.

More information on Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional can be found in this PDF data sheet.

B.J. Schone

Author: B.J. Schone

B.J. is the Founding Editor of eLearning Weekly and has contributed more than 150 articles. He works in elearning at Qualcomm, focusing on mobile learning.

 


Comments
  • Rory
    July 14, 2007 4:37 am   Reply

    Hi B.J.
    I was very familiar with Macromedia’s Breeze product; and I just attended my first webinar that used Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional. As a participant I thought the interface and usability quite good. My client opted for Saba/Centra as their virtual classroom platform.
    And I totally agree that the toughest part is where the instructors / facilitators / trainers have to ensure an engaging experience … but doing it without the benefit of seeing the nonverbal body language of the participants.

  • John Pollard
    July 16, 2007 11:05 am   Reply

    On a side note, Toyota does have the Toyota Camry Solara, right? :-) Worse yet, consider this (from their website) “Toyota Camry Solara Sport Convertible.”

    I know, I know, that’s not your point.
    John

  • Gary Hegenbart
    July 16, 2007 1:01 pm   Reply

    I’ve attended a few eLearning Guild webinars that use Acrobat Connect, and I think it’s a great tool. I even used it as a presenter at one of their online forums and found it very easy to use.

    I’m a little surprised that LMS integration is difficult; I expected a mature product like this to have those kinks worked out.

    I completely agree with your point about the price. I would like to AC in my current company, but the expense is just too much. It’s really too bad Adobe has priced such a great tool out of reach for many potential users.
    Thanks for review, it helps to hear good and bad from real people, not just marketing folks!

  • Nancy
    August 13, 2007 5:05 pm   Reply

    Okay, so who remember’s the product as the original Presedia Presenter? Going back about as far as Adobe Captivate to eHelp’s RoboDemo.

    I find both Connect and Captivate present a whole new challenge for instructional designers–namely, what happens when you put easy-to-use tools in the hands of SMEs and people without a training design background.

    But that’s another topic. Our company lives and breathes by both Connect (we’re back on version 6 called Presenter) and Captivate. I would and often do recommend both.

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  • Izzy
    December 21, 2007 10:56 am   Reply

    How can we integrate Adobe Connect (hosted) with our LDAP system?

  • B.J. Schone B.J. Schone
    December 22, 2007 9:46 am   Reply

    Izzy,

    We were able to integrate Connect with our LDAP system fairly easily. The Connect configuration allows you to enter your LDAP directory’s settings; you can read more here.

    There are two parts to consider. 1) Getting your users pulled into the Connect system via LDAP on a regular (nightly?) basis, and 2) Configuring Connect to use Single Sign-On. We use NTLM authentication for SSO and it works great. You can find the steps for implementing this here.

    FYI, be aware of this login issue, too. It’s not a showstopper, but you’ll need to inform your users.

    Good luck!

  • Izzy
    December 24, 2007 9:25 am   Reply

    We have the hosted version, it is hosted on Adobe’s server. Can we still integrate it with our LDAP that’s hosted on our server?

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  • Thomas
    February 8, 2009 4:49 am   Reply

    Have hosted version. Great product. Wonderful for online meetings as well as classes. The live streaming video works quite well. We often have the instructor streaming as well as a video of students in a classroom. Almost like being there. The VOIP works extremely well. We use recordings of live sessions for on demand training. Highly recommended. The basic configuration for a hosted account is so reasonably priced that when we heard it, our mouths dropped open. Not familiar with the licensed costs. This product is limited only by the user’s creativity.


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