Wimba Unveils New Collaborative Messaging Tool

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Extra Credit
Can We Chat?

According to the National School Boards Association, 81 percent of school districts in the United States block or ban instant messaging, and 84 percent block or ban online chatting--the two most prohibited forms of social networking.

The NSBA said that while safety and security issues involved with social networking require "thoughtful policies" from school boards, "parents and communities also expect schools to take advantage of potentially powerful educational tools, including new technology. Clearly, both district leaders and parents are open to believing that social networking could be such a tool--as long as there are reasonable parameters of use in place."

More Information:

NSBA Report: "Creating & Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social--and Educational--Networking" (PDF)

EduHound's Technology Planning Resources

--D. Nagel

At the inaugural Wimba Connect 2008 user conference Tuesday, Wimba unveiled its new Wimba Pronto, a collaborative instant messaging tool geared specifically toward education.

Wimba Pronto is an instant messaging and voice chat tool, part of the Wimba Collaboration Suite that also includes Wimba Classroom (a virtual classroom environment) and Wimba Create (a utility for converting Word documents to LMS-friendly formats), among other technologies.

Wimba Pronto provides live online communications for students and instructors. Some of its features include:

  • Audio and video conferencing capabilities, including a "follow the speaker" audio feature;
  • Desktop application sharing;
  • Support for queuing for individualized help; and
  • Automatic population of contact lists based on courses.

It should be noted that in K-12, a vast majority of districts ban instant messaging and online chat. (See sidebar for more information.) However, Wimba is undaunted. Said Annie Chechitelli, director of product marketing at Wimba, "Wimba pronto offers the educational advantages of IM in a protected, closed environment. Only authorized teachers and students have access to Wimba Pronto ensuring student privacy."

More information about Pronto is available at Wimba's site.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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