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Beware eCollege Interface is Old School

From an instructor/user perspective I wouldn’t bet on eCollege—after seeing the system again after several years not much has changed. It looks like it did when it started. My experience comes from using the system in the beginning with a previous client then again when I was going to teach using the system but because I couldn’t stand to use the system I decided not to teach the courses because I dreaded logging into the system because it was so hard to use. And with more and more tech savvy students coming online they aren’t going to go for this kind of system either. So unless eCollege intends to update/upgrade their software I would say they are old news—but then again, once a university gets locked into a system that isn’t upgrading or growing then they are stuck too. So this is a suggestion for all those late to the game—review your options and if I were giving my advice—eCollege wouldn’t be on the short list.

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FREE or Nearly FREE Software You Must Have!

 Active Collab: http://www.activecollab.com/
activeCollab is a web based, open source collaboration and project management tool. Something worth checking out if you need a place for a team to collaborate on active projects. Best of all it is a 100% free!

Skype: http://www.skype.com
Although I’m sure most everyone who reads this blog has heard about Skype I wanted to encourage you to download it because it is an easy way to start using voice over IP. The basic calls Skype to Skype are all free and they have very affordable plans to use the advanced features. And don’t miss the promotion they are having this weekend for Mother’s Day—

FREEGlobal Calls! There are also a couple addon’s for Skype that are especially useful for educators—TalkAndWrite allows you and your partner to work on any document as though you were side by side. The moment you open each page of a document it will be sent to your partner. Then you can both annotate this shared document: write on it, draw on it, add text, point to elements, and erase the notation. Each of you will see each other’s cursors, and all of the annotation, in real time. It is an affordable price – under a $100.00 you can get a 3 year license. 

Call Butler
Although this add-on is marketed to small businesses I can see this as a resource for educators as a way to manage their student/instructor communications. It is only limited by your own imagination, I downloaded the software, installed it and it is very easy to use. And in our world of 7/24 you can meet the needs of your students by automatically answering common questions. For example if the student doesn’t have access to their computer they will still be able to get the answer using this system. Additionally you are able to transfer calls to any VoIP, mobile, and land-based telephones. In addition you can integrate the system with databases and other applications. And the best thing is you can try before you buy, there is a FREEversion to use with Skype. Compare features here:http://www.callbutler.com/About/Features.aspx

Skype + PamelaPlugin = Easy to Produce Podcasts!

If you are interested in podcasting then this combo is the easiest way to achieve your goals!Automatically record your Skype calls, videos and chat apps. It automates the process and best of all they have a FREE version and when you’re ready to move to the professional version it’s only $25.00 bucks!

Skype + HotRecord = Podcasts

For the sake of choice here’s another option if you’re interested in an easy/affordable tool to produce podcasts. It’s HotRecord, they have a free version and the premium version is only $15.00 dollars! So this is another tool that is definitely worth mentioning for futher reveiw.

Last but not least—Feedreader – Push technology flopped 8 years ago but it has made an amazing comeback with the advent of the RSS Feed—and everyone should have a RSS Reader! And Feedreader definitly fits the bill—it is simple to use and setup and the best part, it’s FREE!