Network For Inclusive Distance Education


Synchronous Communication Tools

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NIDE Meeting Minutes
Synchronous Communication Group
July 7, 1999

Present: Deborah Fels, Bertha Acevedo, Carolynn Whiteley, Chris Ridpath

The meeting was held at the 7th floor ARTC offices and started at 9 a.m.

  1. Specifications Document - Bertha and Deb presented their Technical specifications document that outlines how synchronous communication tools may be made more accessible. The text based conferencing portion of the document was given the highest priority and occupied most of the group discussion. Multi-media communication (video conferencing, collaborative workspaces) was left for later in the project cycle.
  2. Staffing - Deb informed us that Luo Dongchuan will be helping with the database development on the project. Anastasia Cheetham will be helping with the design and implementation of the ‘chat’ software. Bertha will be working on the project until the end of the summer and perhaps longer.
  3. Text Communication Tool - Deb and Bertha presented their vision of the text based communication tool. In simple terms, the tool will be a modified ‘chat’ program that will be integrated with a database. The database will store and organize the text entered by the users and allow users to query the database for questions and comments.
  4. Text Types - The group discussed the types of text that may be stored in the database and arrived at a small set of potential categories. The text categories are questions, answers, discussions or reports. Other text categories may be created in the future but we are hoping that the set will stay small. As the user enters text into the ‘chat’ program they will also enter a topic and select a text category.
  5. Name - The group discussed a new name for this type of synchronous communication and decided that the name ‘jam session’ was a better name than ‘chat’.
  6. Software - The jam session software module will likely take the form of a modified Java chat program. Bertha will be writing the software in conjunction with Anastasia. Deb will talk with Anastasia regarding the design of the software module.
  7. Collaborative Workspace – The group discussed the collaborative workspace portion of the project and decided to work on that design later. We will start on the synchronous communication module first and then move to the multi-media parts of the project.
  8. Jam Session Deadline - Bertha will begin the design of the jam session software and have a first beta version ready by the end of August.
  9. Challenges Document - The group felt that we had an understanding of the problems faced by people with disabilities in accessing synchronous communication software but that we should create a formal document describing what these problems were. Caroline will create a document that describes these access challenges and present it to the group.
  10. Web Site – Chris will talk to Jutta regarding the web site for the project and will get our documents posted to the site.
  11. Next meeting - Scheduled for July 21, at 9 a.m. at the same location.

The Adaptive Technology Resource Centre

J.P. Robarts Library, First Floor, University of Toronto Information Commons
130 St. George St. Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3H1
Telephone: (416) 978-4360 Fax: (416) 971-2629

For additional information please e-mail Laurie Harrison