eTeaching – What works for you?

eteachThis next year, I’ll be setting up my own eTeaching system and doing online teacher training. Mostly out of interest and to see if I can do it. As part of that process, I’m presently setting up my own audio/video eteaching suite. And since I’m doing it for myself, I thought, “why not do it for everyone?”. Technology has that benefit, once you do it for yourself, it costs little to share it.

So, I’d like to ask what you are looking for in an eteaching system. You know, I’ve tried them all. From basic skype to edufire, to dimdim, to wiziq to elluminate to scribblar to …… They all have their limitations concerning privacy, cost, set up, and user experience. Most of all, reliability. They don’t work as well or as sure as they should. I think teachers should have something that works – so I’m setting out on my own.

I’ll be making available later this week, a nice demo. Best technology and it rivals adobe connectnow or HP rooms at a fraction of the cost. So my question, how much would you pay for a video conferencing eteaching room that:

1) can hold up to 100 students
2) has file sharing that is quick / instant.
3) audio/video capability of the highest clarity and response
4) full whiteboard capability
5) chat and private ongoing chat
6) simplicity – no sign up, no installs. Click and use.
7) make multiple rooms for each of your classes with a click.
8. fully secure and private, encrypted data transmission.
9. desktop sharing that is quick and doesn’t drag.
10. full moderation and control of users.

Any comments about your experiences appreciated. Stay tuned. All in the name of affordable education.

How much per month max. would you pay as a teacher or school for a fully functioning, reliable eteaching suite?
nothing $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 $30 $40 $50 or more   
What it will look like

What it will look like

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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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12 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    If I had a video presence in class, it would pay $20/mo for the months that I teach. That would be quite a bargain compared to other services. I just don’t have the need for videoconferencing at this point. I think that point may come in the not too distant future, but at this point, few of my students have or want to use video (I have tried). If I were running online or even synchronous blended courses, I’d really be into it. I’d also love to see a service that I could be charged on a per use basis. $10 a day would be cool for that.

    Looks like a very cool project. Good luck with it.

  2. ddeubel says:

    Good thoughts/feedback Daniel. I haven’t settled on a payment model but really lean towards a one size fits all price. Whether used one day or many – the cost isn’t significant. And that’s exactly the point with companies charging large fees to a public that really doesn’t understand what is going on. The servers have unlimited bandwidth, so that isn’t an issue, neither is multiple room creation.

    I also think there are many organizations in EFL / ESL or other that don’t have the capability to create something like this but could use it. Either for distance ed (think rural schools) or many schools wanting to improve their business model. Also, I think private teachers could do this for extra income without having to be slaves to the ecommerce sites which take a big useryous cut of your earnings. It really is simple like face to face. Only you don’t travel to the student’s living room/home but just turn on your computer. And why give anyone a cut but those allowing you the technology that is first rate.

    My basic premise is to put my work/money where my mouth is. I’m always promoting the benefits of technology to provide low cost and universal access to education/information. So my pricing won’t be about making big bucks. Adobe can charge $450 to install and $199/mo for only 10 people. I can do it for a fraction and with the same or better functionality. I remember getting emails constantly from Elluminate to get a free room for 10 people to promote with teachers. I just shook my head. It is so complex! Also, clunky and you got to download. And then they charge hundreds of dollars.

    It’s coming and look forward to others and their thoughts about “price”. I will start on the low end and then raise the price if I don’t meet my server / work costs. That’s the way to do it honestly. I’m using and testing presently and it is amazing. Just working on the product key set up and portal, then I can let others peek.



  3. I try not to comment if I don’t feel I have anything of value to add except your post has mind reeling with possibilities… I don’t know how much I would pay, I would have to try it out for free – set up a system, invite students and see how much they would pay me and then I would know how much value the tool had. That’s what I did with my Ning – I had it for free for a long time and once I realized that it added hugely to the teaching/learning experience I was very happy to pay $20 a month: I actually believe it’s important to pay people who create things and this.. what you’re talking about making – based on that pic – why, that looks just amazing!


  4. Jenay says:

    I would like to be able to do this with my university classes. The blackboard system is not user friendly and The types of materials I can easily share with my students is limited.

    I have a couple of questions: 1. Will a teacher may able to save files to the site that would be used with different classes for easy retreival? 2. You said that multiple classes aren’t a problem, how many exactly?

    Hope I can test-drive the program… Good luck!

  5. ddeubel says:


    I hear you about using and figuring out yourself about the “worth”. The rooms will be available free for a two week window. Anyone can come and make multiple rooms, teach, use and of course I hope – give some feedback.

    After that test period, there will be a demo which will function for 5 min before a user is logged off. That way, before purchasing, a user can use (and also watch video tutorials) before deciding on “value”.

    I’m still working on a payment model. We will see. As for “building” – this is GNU software and under the LGPS license. Have you ever heard of Richard Stallman? I’ve been a big follower of his ideas about copyright and the freedom of open source especially for education. Go see a talk of his or watch one online. I’ve attended a few and he says things so well about how copyright is ancient and corrupt as stands (also see Larry Lessig too about this). What I’m charging is the work, organization and what I will set up and pay for on my own servers. This and all the tweeking/modifing of the open source code, are my costs and is what is charged for. It’s about taking these things that are “copyrighted” and made into profit hives – and bringing them into the open and use for all, at a low cost.

    I am busy testing and in a few days will have the rooms up for everyone to use and inspect. Let’s see. But yeah, I want to make things cheap so any EFL teacher can get one and just invite the guy across town or country into their virtual classroom.


  6. ddeubel says:


    Right now, you won’t be able to upload and “store” files for easy use/retrieval. You’ll have to do that prior to each session. Just takes a second but yeah, you are right, they have to be converted to and all those seconds can add up. Our Scribblar Pro rooms though – do have this capability. Go HERE OR HERE.

    However, the good news is that this is in development and planned for an upgrade soon. The highest thing on the list is recording of sessions and shared video watching (put on a youtube video and watch, chat, discuss together). I don’t have a time frame but this will come with the next upgrade. The way I’ve installed and set up the rooms makes it easy to upgrade, almost automatic once something comes available.

    I know there are lots of other things that might be put into the eroom however, I also think it important to keep it light and simple. users get overwhelmed easily with “all the buttons”.

    I’ve spent the morning testing and we are busy customizing – it will come online shortly and be available for free to all until Nov. 15th (2-3 week window). After that, get access through a 5 min demo to decide about purchasing.

    Cheers, happy Chuseok! (just heading to the inlaws!)


  7. Our company has a software that has everything you mentioned. I’ve always wanted to have that software, but I can’t.

    Thanks to Karenne’s tweet, I’ve come to know you’re working on something guh-reat. Now, to answer your question, I honestly want a one-time payment, not on a monthly basis. Perhaps when you’re done, you can offer it for a promotional price of 10 dollars during the first month, and peg it at 50 dollars after.

  8. Anne Fox says:

    Would echo Karenne’s comments on wanting to try it before making up my mind about its value and also support your observation that recording is the most sought after add-on. For language teaching that would be a must for me.

    I’m always on the look out for a good platform and I must say that the most tiring thing is keeping up with the spec of each tool. Don’t mind if it gets better of course but you do wonder sometimes if people don’t come out way too early with a basic product. I found WiZiQ unusable when it first came out but now it’s quite reliable and well featured. It’s irritating also when the balance between free, basic and premium alters too much.

  9. ddeubel says:


    Interesting payment model! Something to think about and I was also thinking about a “negotiated” model. There are several ecommerce sites that offer a buyer the ability to “offer a price”. Then I could accept or not but still have one set price. However, thinking of just going for simplicity.

    and isn’t it true how businesses have these things but many schools and teachers don’t? And the uses are revelatory and wide (just wrote a blog post on possible uses and will post soon). My hope is to really make it cheap but still high functioning and we all can enjoy it and our students profit.


    I hear you about recording however, I’m not that convinced it really at the end of the day gets used a lot. I take as an example Steve Haragnon’s elluminate interviews. I really don’t think they are watched much and for all the fuss of recording, I still think the important thing is “live”. But if it doesn’t create problems, I will introduce eventually but I stress – the important thing is simplicity.

    and that is what I don’t like about Wiziq. I find it takes a user a lot of time to learn its ropes. Further, the bloody registration of all attendees and scheduling just drive a person to ruin. Further, if you want something of high quality that I’m going to offer, you have to pay a lot, a lot more than their pro even (see their institution solutions). Dimdim is better for user friendliness but you have to download and that just takes away a lot of flexibility to use.

    Don’t worry about coming out too early. This is already tried and tested but the key is using the right tweeking and especially the quality of the servers. Eventually, if more people purchase I can offer a choice of servers around the world and those that might be more local (right now my servers are in Frankfurt Germany so Karenne would be happy).

    And finally – I’m with you about a pricing model that is simple. I never thought of it much until recently and to me, you either buy something like this or not. Cheap and doesn’t matter who you are – millionaire or mouse keeper. Same price.


  10. Fantastic, David. It was only a matter of time before an enthusiast came along and offered a better alternative to the big commercial platforms. I can’t wait to see your system – best of luck with this project. It will open up lots of new opportunities for teachers everywhere.


  11. Marcus says:

    Why reinvent the wheel? I use WiZiQ and it has all the bells and whistles you need to hold a class. It’s 100% free too.

  12. ddeubel says:


    I’m not trying to put down Wiziq at all and believe that teachers will,can,should find what works for them. I supported Wiziq when they first started, allowing them to continually put up “ads” on EFL Classroom 2.0 when usually we don’t tolerate such commercial prompting.

    But I do think it has too much “resistance”. Meaning, it isn’t just click and go. Teachers will want more control. They have their own room and students don’t have to sign up to Wiziq, also, they control all payment themselves. Further, the interface of what I will offer will be decidedly simple.

    I believe we need an unbranded solution. Schools and teachers will buy into it. You purchase a room and it is YOUR room. That’s what will sell after it functioning reliably.

    I will make access availble on Saturday and use will be free until Oct. 15th. Make as many rooms as you want. Test in a variety of environments etc….



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