Friday, November 07, 2003

Silicon Chalk Provides Powerful Feature Set with a Great Price

Another powerful tool with a lot of potential that I encountered is a new product from the original founder of WebCT called Silicon Chalk. ( Silicon Chalk uses IP broadcast within a subnet (or multicast across subnets) to record and broadcast a class presentation between computers equipped with the Silicon Chalk Client. For example, an instructor presenting with Powerpoint and a microphone would have his/her screen presentation automatically recorded with voice over, timecoded and distributed to the workstations of each student. As the students listen to the lecture, they can type notes, send instant messages, and browse referenced websites. These activities of the student are also recorded and timecoded in synch with the instructor broadcast. The student's lecture file can then be used for review and even later notes can be added to particular portions of the lecture. This feature is especially important for students who missed the lecture.

The product can search sections of the presentation by text strings either within the instructor's powerpoint presentation or the students notes. The vendor explained that if, every time the instructor said something like "Now this is important. It will be included on the midterm", the student typed "midterm" in their note section. They could then easily retrieve any portion of the lecture in which "midterm" was mentioned. The product also includes a student polling function with the instructor having the control of display of the results. Best of all, this powerful product is very inexpensive. A pilot client is only $3 and even after the pilot period, the clients would cost in the neighborhood of only $8 based on the number of clients requested.
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