Nov 6 2009

Small But Important Change to the Audio Chat Tool

Posted by Brian Klaas at 3:45 PM Course Tools | Online Courses

The Audio Chat tool is kind of an underutilized wonder in online courses. For quite a few years now, all online courses have had this little tool which enables small groups of people to talk with one another from within the course Web site. You don't need anything other than your current Web browser and a microphone to talk to classmates from around the world. It's really quite handy, especially if you are working in a small group on a homework problem or wiki assignment.

One limitation of the Audio Chat tool has always been that each room (where you actually talk to one another) could only accommodate 5 people at any time. This was originally done so that students on dial-up/modem/low speed connections could participate alongside students on high-speed connections. Each additional person you put in an Audio Chat room causes more data to be sent to each participant in the room. If you're on a high speed connection, this isn't a problem. For students on dial-up/low speed connections, though, this was definitely a problem.

Now that less than 10% of all students who take online courses from JHSPH use dial-up/low speed connections (thank you, Google Analytics, for that information!), we're able to bump up the capacity in Audio Chat rooms. Each Audio Chat room can now accommodate ten simultaneous participants. This change is already in place, so you can try it out today!

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