Association for Learning Technology Online Newsletter
Issue 1   Friday, August 5, 2005

ISSN 1748-3603

Cover Page
Contents
Feature article
More than just e-Learning: Sakai so far
ALT news
Executive Secretary's Report
Director's Report
News from members
Your views on implementing accessibility regulations
Project updates
Skills for access: Putting the world to rights for accessibility and multimedia
Conference reviews
EdTech 2005, the sixth annual Irish educational technology users' conference
Legal issues of online learning environments: a JISC legal conference
Software reviews
Macromedia Breeze v5
Learning Activity Management Sequences (LAMS)
Hints and tips
Scenario-based learning using PowerPoint
Subscribe / Remove
Privacy policy

Editorial Team

ALT Website
Macromedia Breeze
Macromedia Breeze
Macromedia Breeze v5
by Kevan Williams

Introduction
By 2010, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) aims to be one of the leading providers of e-learning programmes in the UK. To achieve this, new and emerging technologies must be exploited and embedded as standard practice in teaching methods to enable learners to fulfil their potential. As the University e-learning portfolio continues to grow and mature, technology is becoming an integral measure of the quality of the student learning experience. Over the past five years WebCT has become the accepted Virtual Learning Environment at UCLAN, with over 2500 live modules supporting approximately 20,000 student users.

The growth in demand for enhanced interactive learning technologies and the submission of the Learning and Teaching strategy to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), initiated the research undertaken by the University’s Learning Development Unit to enable rich multimedia content to be easily integrated into the WebCT environment.

The new technology had to be flexible, easy to use and versatile in the delivery of content and able to enrich the current system for online communication with students. Macromedia Breeze 5 was found to be a rich e-learning system that provided everything needed to rapidly create, manage, deploy and track highly engaging online interaction available to any user with an Internet connection.

Breeze enables the combination of video, audio, software simulations, and other multimedia content to produce e-learning and training packages that are engaging and effective, while providing tracking and reporting capabilities that academic staff can access from their online account. Breeze can be used both as a tool to record high quality PowerPoint presentations for on-demand access and also to engage with students online in a highly interactive environment.

Breeze content is delivered through the Flash Player technology; Macromedia state that 98% of the world’s Macs and PCs have the Flash Player already installed, making access relatively straightforward. The Flash Player provides audio, visual and interactive content to users, through varying bandwidth speeds, although the preferred connection speed would be broadband 512k or above to ensure the quality of the user experience.

The Breeze v5 solution
There are four modules in Breeze, covering:

Content creation – based around Microsoft’s PowerPoint software, the Breeze Presenter module allows users to convert PowerPoint presentations into Flash-based content, complete with voice-overs, integrated video and Flash animations and the capability to add quiz and survey questions through a simple wizard-like interface. Presentations can contain notes, which are accessible via screen-readers. Users can either watch a self-contained presentation or can move back and forth via the navigation links. Presenter information, contact details and photos can be added to the presentations, as can “talking-head” videos. A theme creator enables the user to select the style of layout, colours and logos that each presentation uses.

e-learning – the Breeze Training module allows you to create courses and curricula out of the content provided through the Breeze Presenter or from any Flash-based e-learning Content, including Macromedia Authorware generated courseware. These courses and curricula can be assigned to students and student groups, who then access the learning materials via a browser. User activity can be tracked, for example, who has taken what course and when, and results of quiz and survey questions can be monitored to test understanding and progress. Each quiz can be used to guide the learner onto the next step, for example, a high pass can mean the student skips the next course section, or a failure can mean mandatory re-start of the whole course. Student scores and progress can be easily transferred to a Learning Management System (LMS) (via adapters) and can be stored in SCORM or AICC formats.

Web conferencingBreeze Meeting allows anyone with a standard web cam and an Internet connection to take part in real-time web conferencing. Meeting rooms can be quickly created – uploading presentations, documents, videos, and Flash content as required. All meeting participants can take part in video conferencing, white-boarding, polls and screen or application sharing, which is a particularly useful tool for offering technical support online. A new Breeze meeting room can be created spontaneously, e.g. if a student fails a course quiz, or wants to ask a question: one click and they can enter into a conference with their tutor. All pre-populated content remains in the meeting room, e.g. notes and documents from the last meeting for approving or re-using.

Seminars and events – the Breeze Event module allows for the rapid creation, invitation and tracking of users for an online seminar, where many people can view a presentation or lecture using Breeze, whether or not they have a Breeze licence. Breeze Event facilitates the creation of customized homepages with details of your lecture, biography and how to register for the event. Users can also be directly invited and all users are tracked with automatic reminder emails and post-lecture emails too.

Creating and using e-learning content with Breeze
Creating content requires the installation of the Breeze Presenter plugin to Microsoft PowerPoint. Once this has been installed PowerPoint presentations can be produced as normal and then published from the new Breeze plugin menu. The Publish button uploads content to the Breeze server for online access from a given URL, or the presentation can be published locally for delivery on a network or CD Rom. The menu also allows the insertion of Flash files (which can contain any combination of video, animations, business functions, demonstrations and simulations) into PowerPoint.

Breeze Presenter allows voice-over to be added to slides, so that the presentation can run self-contained. Although PowerPoint already has this capability, Breeze audio is of a higher quality and has a smaller file size – making the student experience that much better. There is also an intuitive tool that allows voice-overs to be edited, enabling easy removal of unwanted pauses and sounds.

Adding a quiz or survey is done by selecting the Quiz Manager and following the wizard. There is a wide range of question types, from simple true/false to short answers and rating (likert) scales. Answers are in SCORM or AICC format, allowing an LMS or Breeze itself to track student progress. The quiz feature supports conditional branching and there is a wide array of responses you can make depending on whether the student answered correctly or not, so you retain the power to move students to different parts of the presentation, or course, or other materials to support their understanding.

Pricing and availability
There are two options for purchasing Breeze: hosted and the licensed model. For the hosted option, space is ‘rented’ on a Breeze server that is managed and operated by Macromedia or an associated partner. This relieves any problems of capacity and maintenance, whilst the hosted operator ensures security and service-levels. The licensed option offers the software with no additional server side maintenance or management.

Educational prices for Breeze are available to academic establishments and LEAs and starts from £2,610 for a school and £5,850 for a college or university.

Academic staff feedback
Some final comments from academic staff from across the University regularly using Breeze in their teaching:

"Breeze is an important, even vital, addition to our e-learning toolbox”.
Francois Nel, Course Leader, MA Strategic Communication

“Breeze to me is an awesome product, very easy to learn and to put to use. Over the past academic year I have delivered recorded Breeze presentations, conducted live group seminars and tutorials, conducted live one to one advise sessions and attended live Breeze lectures. All of these have been very successful in terms of the feedback collected.”
Peter Clare, Course Leader, BSc Electronically Mediated Education and Training (EMIT).

“We have been supporting online courses for three years using WebCT to deliver content and online seminars. This academic year we started using Breeze, which added voice, vision from webcams, and presentation facilities.
Just one semester after this experimental introduction I tried running text-only online seminars (because I did not have a webcam at the time). The student response was rapid, angry and - to me at least - almost a total shock, I had underestimated the strength of feeling that students attached to being able to see and hear their online tutors. In a matter of weeks they had come to expect this mode of interaction, to see it as a right, not a privilege, and most certainly to express a clear preference for the sot of interactivity that it allows. Of course, I raised my game to suit the new expectation, but I was left with the clear impression that the route towards greater interactivity is strictly a one-way street - there is no turning back and no standing still. The students will simply not stand for it.”

Paul Elmer, MA Public Relations

Macromedia Breeze: http://www.macromedia.com/software/breeze/

Kevan Williams
Senior eLearning Developer
Learning Development Unit
University of Central Lancashire


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