Monday, June 4, 2012

Wiggio - Evaluation for Educational Application

LOCATION ON THE WEB: or the App Store
CATEGORY:  Collaboration Tool
This tool is very intuitive and does a pretty good job for team collaboration considering it is offered at no cost.  The WIG in Wiggio stands for “working in groups”.  The designers have taken the concept of a discussion board and expanded it to include additional tools for communication.  They have expanded the discussion board concept by including conference call, chatroom and virtual video meeting capabilities.  The typical features of text and email messaging are included and the latest technology of video messaging is available if the user has the appropriate hardware.
Project productivity is also included in this product as users can upload documents, conduct surveys, create to do lists and a group calendar is available to remind the users of key delivery dates.
Having utilized many project collaboration tools, this is one of the easiest to implement.  Most programs require a complicated setup with administrative permissions, etc., but this one only requires a site administrator to set up the site name and password and then in a matter of minutes, the members can start working together online.  Movement within the site is simplified and extremely intuitive. 
To increase access, Wiggio has also created an App for use on iPhones.  Group members can setup notification preferences where they are contacted via email or text when other members have added material to the site.  This feature allows for real time project performance which is ideal for the current busy pace of users.
Lastly, I did encounter a need to use their helpline and the staff was on top of the issue and responded within minutes.  This is a critical factor in the success of a program.

1.     Set up a free user account
2.     One person needs to be the group administrator to create the group site and set the group name and password for the other members.
Access to a computer or smartphone with App Store access
1.     Log in
2.     Select the group you are a member of on the left side of the screen
3.     The screen then takes you to the posts that relate just to that specific group. 
4.     Specific calendar, folders and discussion feed navigating tabs are located at the top of the screen.
5.     On the right side of the screen, all of the functioning features are located on the right.  These include uploading files, conducting virtual meetings and conference calls, chat rooms, uploading documents, creating surveys, sending emails and creating a virtual video message.  Simply select which function you want to perform and the rest is very intuitive.
6.     For a step by step video introduction to this program go to the this link.  Wiggio Review - YouTube
To see an example of this online tool, please click on the link below.  Note:  you will have to set up a free online account before accessing the group below.  Wiggio example site.  When you are prompted you will need to input your personal password for your Wiggio account.
Please note that this site is actually being used for a current summer session, so please be respectful of the live data being posted for this project.  I want to share this particular site because the site is utilizing a lot of the features.

I can envision the use of this online tool either in a distance education group project or a face to face class group project.  Since the challenges of the distance education are greater regarding communication I will discuss the usage of this tool with regard to that scenario.
Today’s curriculum often involves team projects which require a high level of collaboration and with online courses, communication can be a challenge.  Many universities utilize wimba software for online sessions where the instructor controls the screen and all participants are connected verbally by a conference line.  Wiggio has a component that has the same functionality as Wimba.  I would utilize this component on some of the more difficult subjects where learning would be more efficient through both verbal and visual communication.  The functionality of the software also allows the moderator to release controls to other members on the session but I anticipate this would be more useful in the context of group projects.
One of the more advantageous elements of the software is the video cast capability that is included.  Whether the class is face to face or online, there are many instances where instructors think of follow up comments after each class session.  The video cast is a great way to communicate those follow up items to students since it allows both audio and visual perceptions.  Modern educational thought encourages two way communications between student and instructor and the simplicity of video messaging would allow students to easily record responses to assignments.  This would also serve to pique the interest of the students with the use of interesting tools in lieu of just reporting through written mediums.
Another way that this can facilitate learning is to utilize “lessons learned” by the students.  In most university provided software each semester’s course materials are not carried forward each semester automatically.  This process usually requires work from the instructor and site administrator to copy the material from one semester module to another.  Utilizing Wiggio, it is possible to keep a perpetual “lessons learned” discussion board so that future students could build upon the knowledge of previous students.  This could have a tremendous impact on accelerating the learning process on any subject and would also have the effect of inspiring the instructor to continuously improve the course.  This synergy of efforts by all participants would achieve the desired goals of modern day theorists influenced by Web 2.0.
Another implementation for this online tool would be for group project collaboration.  Students could upload files for editing and achieve results much faster than the face to face meeting method.  This real time communication would also aid in developing time management and multi focus skills by the participants.  It would also facilitate better communication among the students who tend to be shy and don’t speak up in group settings.  These students tend to be more outspoken when utilizing a key board and could possibly enable them to develop leadership skills that they didn’t think were possible.
The primary advantage is that the students can set their preferences to receive and respond to messages posted by anyone directly to their email or text message.  This is a considerable advantage in that Blackboard only allows outgoing messages to go to other devices and the set up process is cumbersome at best.  With Blackboard, which is utilized by most universities, you can’t respond directly to the message.  Instead, the student has to log onto Blackboard and respond from there.  It has been my experience that students will not take the extra steps to communicate in this manner.
The second most important advantage is the ability to do video messaging on the site.  This video messaging capability is built into this platform.  This visual and voice capability aids in communicating the more complex subjects, where the written word can sometimes be insufficient in conveying meaning.
This software also allows the ability to perform a virtual meeting, much like the Go To Meeting software with the exception of this tool being free of cost.  This would allow instructors to conduct a live lesson online. 
An additional advantage is the ability to create folders so that educational materials can be uploaded to the site for reference by the users of a specific group.
An additional advantage is that the software has an open link where you can direct all students to so they can connect to the group, as opposed to having to set up each individual email account for access to the group.
The disadvantage of utilizing this software for teaching is the administrative setup of the users to each group.  The person who sets up the group has administrator privileges and they would have to add each member of the group into the group members list.
The biggest disadvantage is that all users don’t understand that they have to create a free account on Wiggio and then have to accept the group membership invitation.  Getting all of the users set up initially is probably the biggest constraint.
Another disadvantage is that the mobile application is only available on the iPhone platform.  Many of today’s students utilize other cell phone platforms, like HTC or Samsung so this won’t be as attractive for use by all students.
The only unknown element is the band width and speed capability with a large contingent of users.  This would have to be tested in order to determine the size capacity.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the post....i'm wondering if there have been any changes to wiggio's functionality lately?