Technology Review: WizIQ

Three of us (on both Macs and PCs) went out to cyberspace tonight to try out WizIQ to see if it might be suitable for online office hours. There is more information about why I am testing WizIQ on the previous blog post here.

What is it? An online software tool for interacting with others on the web that includes a whiteboard with drawing tools, graphing grids, the ability to upload images, speak with audio and webcam video (although we didn’t try that one).

What is the cost? As far as we can tell, it’s free for educational uses.

What are the technical requirements? You would want a decent internet connection. As the instructor, you would want a microphone but it’s not necessary as there is a text chat feature too. If a student had audio, they could talk too. Also, users have to sign up for a username and password to get into the session.

How could we use this technology in the traditional or online classroom? You could use it to hold online office hours, as long as you are only answering one question at a time. All users see the same whiteboard at once. Everyone can draw on it (if the “teacher” gives that permission). If you wanted to bring a guest speaker to class from off-site, you could do it in this platform.

How could we use this technology in our professional lives? I think this would be a great tool for collaborating with other faculty across distances at any level of mathematics. Working on a book or other project? You could collaborate here and see the same things on the screen in addition to talking (so maybe better than a phone call).

Where do I hope the technology will go from here? (a wish list)

  • An eraser (to remove parts of what you have drawn) would be nice. There is a delete feature, but it took us a little while to find out how to do it.
  • Be able to assign each participant a whiteboard that they can use independently while you work with one student. We tried this, but as soon as one person jumps to a new whiteboard, everyone else sees it too.
  • We had some trouble uploading content in the “Content Upload” screen. None of us could get that to work. But we did get images to upload okay.
  • A selection tool for picking up multiple objects would be useful.
  • Be able to retroactively change the color of drawn objects.
  • We didn’t find the math symbols to be particularly useful. It was easier to just draw the symbol we wanted on the screen with the pencil tool. I’d rather have a greater variety of drawing tools (dashed lines, polygon shapes, open and closed points, transparent shading, etc).
  • There was a strange echo whenever three of us were on audio at the same time (but not with only two). It sounded like a sci-fi movie sound effect.

Thanks Shiela and Laura for stepping up and being online guinea pigs! : ) M

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  1. Jagdeep. S. Pannu says:

    Hi Maria,

    Thanks for trying out WiZiQ, and for your review. We are working on a number of enhancements for the upcoming release. Let me try to answer where technology will go from here:

    1. Eraser: We are working on making this option more intuitive and it is being taken care of in our very next release.

    2. Assigning whiteboards: We are exploring this and a lot of other options for enhanced functionality, but we also do not want to compromise ease-of-use. Probably we will bring Virtual Classroom settings for advanced features.

    3. Content upload issues: apologies for the inconvenience; we had some issues with content upload but this has now been resolved. We currently support PDF and files from MS office. However, at times we have noticed issues with uploading content and these generally arise when (a) it contains elements which are not currently supported and (b) if you are trying to upload from a Mac and have the presentation open on your local machine as well.

    4. Selection and other tools: Yes we are working on a lot of new and advanced options; we will gradually add these in future releases.

    5. Symbols: We are also working on more shapes and symbols, based on valuable feedback from teachers, students and education technologists.

    6. Echo in audio: This usually happens if someone is using speakers and microphone in place of headset. This may also happen if you have the boost of your Microphone ON. It is best to use a headset by all attendees. If there are a few attendees, we suggest that the teacher selectively withdraw talking rights from attendees one-by-one to pinpoint attendees who need to either change over from speakers to a headset or, if speakers are required, to disable the mike (to interact, the attendee can use the chat option). If you send us the URL of the recording of your session, we can review it and see what the problem was in your case. You can post it here or send us an email at support@wiizq.com.

    We are also working on desktop sharing and web sharing capabilities.

    Jagdeep Singh Pannu

    (For WiZiQ)

  2. John Woodring says:

    I had the problem with the echo on WiZiQ and the solution I had was to turn off the student’s microphones when they enter the room. Seems like this application works well if only one microphone is on. If a student wishes to speak, turn the instructor mike off before recognizing the student.

  3. R2G says:

    It’s definitely still a bit rough although the technology and concept are impressive.

    My beef was that that I couldn’t keep the students from jiggling the screen around. When there’s a five second lag and everyone jerks the screen (with the scrollbars), chaos ensues.

    My advice is to not let the students have control of the screen unless absolutely necessary!

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