Hi all,

I've sent a question to Blackboard regarding the cost of licensing options but still waiting to hear back

so in the meantime just in case someone here knows..

Isn't there an option to have Collaborate incorporated into your own website, ie. an API?

Is this mega bucks?

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As far as I know, there is the vClass level that is about $2000/yr. This would be your department level or small organization level offering. It is one room that is shared by the people on the organization. It is multi-moderator so that everyone can log in with their own customizable log in. You don't get access to the server backside. I don't think there are any significant APIs for this one. Even the Moodle API is designed for server-side access that is only available at the next level up.

Server side access level is about $15,000/yr level. This is aimed at larger organizations and the people in the organization get their own assigned rooms instead of needing to share one room. The APIs that I am aware of are at this level.

They used to have a vOffice level, but that was discontinued. I am under the impression that people who were already using the vOffice level before it was discontinued are being given the opportunity to renew for another year so they have time to adjust to the level being discontinued.

Tammy, can you please tell me how many students a $15,000/yr cover?

I'm trying to understand how much it will cost to have a site-wide license for 2K or 10K students.

Thanks

Unless they have changed things, you can set up your instructors to each have their own individual rooms. You can have unlimited instructors, but each room holds a specific seat limit. I cannot remember how many that was but it is at least 50. Things may have changed a good bit since the last time I talked to a sales person 4 or so years ago, so don't rest critical decisions on my old information before checking what they are doing currently.

We are still at the vClass level; though, we are now needing two rooms so as we expand and our budget allows for it we will eventually be up at the enterprise level. If you cannot afford the enterprise level, I do recommend starting out with the vClass and letting it grow up to the enterprise level. The vClass is multi-moderator. Most projects will naturally start small anyway to see if the tools work for their needs - think of it as an expensive, year or two trial version for the enterprise level, lol. Almost everyone does find that through use of the room they have many more uses for the room than they ever thought of at the beginning and are internally motivated to move up to the enterprise as funding allows. The differences are that the vClass cannot be customizes with the screens that participants would see if they enter the room alone, you cannot customize what tools they will have upon entering when no moderator has yet logged in, cannot customize if they go to a webpage upon exit (the vClass no longer directs to a webpage now), you do have recording space, but you cannot delete anything without asking tech support to do it (they don't seem to enjoy being asked), and of course the instructors don't have their own room but must share. Lastly, only the enterprise level has the ability for mobile device use.

One added note - There are longstanding bugs and an ever-growing list of new ones. No software is without them, but there is an alarming trend that the bugs are increasing at a much faster rate than the fixes for the last year or so, especially for Macs. It may be more related to the buggy-ness of Java in this same time frame though. Maybe once Java gets their issues smoothed out (it is getting better with Java now), Collaborate's ship will not have so many waves to have to head into. A friend of mine is in a project that has just switched to Connect because they got frustrated with the bugs. We have been exploring Connect together as she readies herself to make the transition for teaching using Connect. There are some features of Collaborate that Connect just doesn't have and will be sorely missed, especially related to the ability to interact with whiteboard objects. In our project, we still see Collaborate as coming out on top but unlike the huge lead it used to have, it is just a bit better now because of the long list of bugs. Known issues are listed at http://support.blackboardcollaborate.com/ics/support/default.asp?de.... I mention the bug list only because I want you to not have rose colored glasses and expect perfection. It is still the best choice out there.

This is a very useful info.

So the enterprise license let you have as many moderators as you need but the price depends on the class size?

How do they limit recordings and storage for files and slideshows?

Thank you Tammy.

Storage is a whole different kettle of fish than seat size. You get a certain amount free but then you have to pay for storage after you go beyond that. If you have the vClass, you don't have direct control over deleting your recordings. You have to ask for them to be deleted. With the enterprise level you have server access. You can chose to trim the recording library to stay under the storage limit. These recordings can be converted to MP3 files and uploaded to YouTube or moved to a server in your district or school.

Just another reminder than my information is several years old. Be ready to make revisions to your plans after you get confirmations of the information if anything has changed or I am misremembering something. Unless donations to our non-profit scale up faster than the trend we have seen, we are still about two years away from the enterprise grade, so I haven't been digging in to details for a few years.

Thanks

Hi Pablo , hi Tammy

My add-on remarks (disclaimer: as far as I know)

Vclass contracts are available for renewal only. No more new paid vSpaces! 

Enterprise "FLT" license means: The total number of concurrent logins is limited. You may spread it over as many classes as you like. On the administration backend, you may upload individual user accounts for your participants or use guest links. If you work with users, you may add moderating permission to any user.

I´m not quite sure there are other license models than FLT  still available. We get no current Collaborate WC license price list (here in Europe) showing the total picture. I know of existing contracts limiting the no. of participants per class. I don´t know if those are renewal-only too.

Regarding class size under FLT license, the limit is more at the server performance side. This might be more critical for us Europeans, as we have >10 times longer latencies for each data packet flowing. I'm very cafeful with permissions at class sizes over 50 participants, especially if breakout rooms are to be used. Eg: 10 groups of 5 students, 10x app sharing 5 simultaneous talkers and 5 webcams allowed ( per group), will predictably cause a service disruption (people will be kicked out).

 

In the latest upgrade of SAS (Collaborate´s administration backend) there is a new alternative to Publish! recordings down to your own storage space: The long running conversion process is now available as a cloud service. This offloads your own hardware from running those boring Publish! conversion tasks and makes it more easy to trim your server storage space. This might be another driver to think of an upgrade from vClass.

Mero

Tech Support of the German Collaboraties

Thanks for jumping in Mero. I knew they had gotten rid of the individual account level, but I actually didn't realize that the level we are at, vClass, had been dropped and that we are grandfathered in at the moment. It does explain a few things though. With vClass there isn't an account interface, so each year I get an e-mail to set up the annual subscription payment. Last year I was a week away from the due date and had not yet gotten the e-mail, so I found a number to call and was directed to another number to dial. When I got that person she didn't know anything about it so she put me on hold to check it out. When she got back on I had the very distinct impression she had discovered she had been given these and she wasn't happy about it. Now it makes more sense if these had been discontinued. We actually needed to expand last year and have two rooms instead of just one. I guess since we had one vClass level room, they didn't mind us adding the second one. I am surprised they didn't mention vClass had been discontinued. This coming year, I am anticipating we will need a third room. I wonder if they will let us get that one.

I guess it is true what everyone at LearnCentral posted about what would happen when Blackboard would take over after they bought Elluminate. Many people that had experience with Blackboard said they would get rid of the lower tiers. I was really nervous when I heard they got rid of the individual moderator account level because that moved the level were we in then to the lowest tier. Now they have gotten rid of ours too. We will be up to enterprise level in about two years more growth. I wonder why Collaborate doesn't see the value of giving a growth ladder of options? Smaller projects that are starting out can become large projects. Wouldn't only offering the enterprise level reduce the number of future clients to only those sources that were already at full growth? New, but growing projects would be forced to go with other webinar hosts and be developing loyalty to them until they are up to enterprise level. Customer loyalty doesn't seem to have the same value to Blackboard as it did to Elluminate. Elluminate's attitude of serving the instructors that use their software was terrific and why Elluminate had such a fantastic reputation. Blackboard seems so different. They seem much more focused on the huge scale administrative level. I guess since that is where the bill paying comes from and it probably gives a bigger profit margin, it makes some business sense. We instructors and new project owners sure do miss those good old Elluminate days though where we felt we were valuable too.

I will take a look at the FLT enterprise license. A price list showing the total picture sure would be helpful. That probably would have made more obvious that our vClass level was in the grandfathered in phase. lol

Hi Tammy,

an  entry level enterprise FLT license might be an interesting alternative for your demand to drive 3 vClass rooms in parallel. Let us know, if you got a promotional upgrade quote for long term loyal Elluminate customers, who served the community with a huge amount of valuable hints like you did on Learncentral.

I fully agree on what you´ve written about the value of small size adopters for the total market share of realtime classroom solutions. Blackboard sales strategy was built to serve their Learning Management System. Investment in such a hi-grade LMS is typically a long-term campus-oriented decision, where sales has to focus on prospect´s top management and the IT-department.The instructors and teachers come in here after the buy decision making, when the tailored implementation of different faculties and didactical approaches come into focus.

Unlikely, the key to grow the market share of live online educational classrooms like Elluminate/Collaborate is to spread the word, how experienced trainers, teachers and instructors rank the usability and didactical flexibility of a toolset. Blackboard Collaborate sales should learn more about who these key users are and why they typically gain their personal live-online experience from smaller projects. I has very unhappy to read, that my demand to join their Advisory Council for Collaborate product development was declined - the Council looked like a huge players only interest group .

Targeting live online classroom sales effort on toplevel decision makers and IT staff will end in loosing the race very often because of the strong competition of non-educational simplified webinar tools lacking any didactical values.

Keeping that strategy, they will loose the growing market of corporate academies in total, because those organizations still have an IT-related  webcommunication tool for business meetings and marketing events (WebEx,Lync,GotoMeeting etc.). A corporate institution willing to build an academy recruits educational staff from the free pool of  instructors and trainers. In Germany, every train-the-trainer course for online teaching skills development contains a chapter "Business development" and "Learning Platform Implementation", because Online-Trainers typically will be involved in the buy decision making process.If this pool of free trainers never came in touch with Collaborate´s very special unique selling points, they can´t vote for implementing such a premier toolset instead of misusing that average business communication tool, the IT staff actually feels familiar with.

Read the recent thoughts of Val Schreiner, VP of Blackboard Product Management published by Wainhouse Research, the premier corporate communications market analyst. She counts on Collaborate´s special educational "no one left behind" strategy, but does not reflect who is mainly interested in not loosing anyone in the class - the instructor at work.

Interesting to read all those testimonials about good old Elluminate days. We never got benefit of this terrific services and support you´re described. This might be due to the time shift, as they offered tier2 support during Europe´s late evening only. Our position on the support queue is outlined by the fact, that most of the Europeans can´t select their geolocation, if trying to register for a new account on Elluminate/Collaborate´s support server:

This funny world intersection remained the same since many years. It can be read as "There is no perspective to get realtime support from this vendor here in Central Europe".At this point of the story, I usually cite the company´s mission "No one left behind" and earn a lol.

This underdog position was the main reason why I did jump in years ago to provide an independant support structure in Germany, driven by enthusiasm on the Elluminate engine (which is still running behind Collaborate Web Conferencing) which comes close to my ideal of a live online multipurpose classroom environment.

Let´s face the future relaxed

Thanks Tammy, Ouch!!

We are at the small organization level. Many, many entrepreneur instructors have come to me over the years and I have given free training to them to help them get started using Elluminate. The vOffice ran about $500 dollars a year which was a perfect level to get a new business run by a single-proprietor off the ground. I am completely baffled at Blackboard's decision to discontinue that level. It was a perfect rung on the ladder for these single-proprietor start ups.

But then, I have been baffled over and over again by the decisions being made since Blackboard bought Elluminate. The closing of LearnCentral was supposed to have been because a poll showed that customers felt BB should focus on their LMS offering. The thing is LearnCentral Elluminate/Blackboard users were not invited to that poll. We got word after the decision was a done-deal. I think the impression that it gives to the loyal fan-base coming in from Elluminate is that what matters to BB are their LMS customers. This sort of thing happens though. When one corporation buys out another, the purchase was to make the parent company stronger. Sometimes the bumps along the way is that the bought company's fan-base is ignored compared to feeling very important like they did before the buy-out. I have seen it at Adobe too. If you are in the market for an LMS it can be a great combination within the single company (Blackboard Learn or CourseSItes plus Blackboard Collaborate). You can feel right at home being assimilated. ;0)

Anyone reading this thread that is in the market for an LMS, take a look at the Collaborate/CourseSites combination. You can get a free 30-seater (maybe that was 20-seater) Collaborate online classroom and up to three course's for free.  The two are integrated tightly, you cannot get in to Collaborate without going through the CourseSite's course page. For an instructor wanting to use this with students though, it is a great opportunity. It isn't as good a fit if you are not using it as a teacher or if you already have an established website or LMS other than a Blackboard offering.

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