Desktop Video Conferencing

Another interactive tool that benefits online community is live desktop conferencing also called webinars. These are scheduled live online meetings with students using browser-based tools such as Adobe Connect or Blackboard Collaborate. Both tools are available to all NIU faculty, staff, and students for free. There are some subtle differences between the tools, so we invite to explore both tools before deciding which fits your needs best.

Desktop video conferencing tools provide the following teaching and learning capabilities:

  • real-time multi-point video
  • voice-over-IP (VOIP) audio
  • integrated teleconferencing
  • public/private text chat
  • shared whiteboard
  • document sharing/collaborative editing
  • polling
  • remote desktop control
  • record, edit, and playback meetings
  • break out rooms

The above list sounds fairly technical. Here are some examples of what you can do with desktop conferencing tools:

  • Have students give live presentations from a distance.
  • Invite a guest speaker to interact with your students.
  • Poll students on their thoughts about a current event.
  • Hold live office hours and use the white board to draw an example of a statistical equation.
  • Demonstrate how to use a software application.

Adobe Connect

Adobe Connect is a web-based communication system that allows users to meet, share, and collaborate at a distance from their desktops. One of the key advantages of this system is that it demands very little of end-users: only a standard web browser and free Adobe plug-ins are all that is required to participate in Adobe Connect meetings. It is also available for all major mobile devices, available within Blackboard or as a stand-alone product for business meetings. Access Adobe Connect with your NIU login credentials at

We are also developing the capacity to develop custom pods that will allow faculty to provide new collaborative experiences for their students. 

For technical assistance with Adobe Connect call the NIU Helpdesk at 815-753-8100.

Contact Mike Taylor at for more information. Get more information and examples.

Blackboard Collaborate

Blackboard Collaborate is a web conferencing tool that is available for all faculty to use for credit courses as well as for non-course related purposes. Blackboard Collaborate has similar capabilities to Adobe Connect. It runs directly in a browser (Google Chrome natively or any standard browser with the free Flash plug-in) and sessions can be easily created and managed directly from within any Blackboard course.

For technical assistance with Blackboard Collaborate call 877-382-2293

Contact Jason Rhode at for more information. Learn more and view examples.