NDSU Distance & Continuing Education (DCE)

Bringing Education to You

Student Resources

Quick Start Guide:

Student Guide to Using Wimba Classroom

Introduction

Wimba Classroom is a webbased video chat system that supports both live audio and live video communication that can be used to hold class discussions online, personal advising, or instructor virtual office hours. It is also used to deliver prerecorded video presentations from instructors or guest presenters.

Part 1: Accessing Wimba

Step 1: Login to Blackboard and navigate to your class.

Blackboard communication link

Step 2: Select the Communication link on the navigation bar or the link that your instructor has provided for Wimba Classroom sessions. If you are unsure about what link to select, contact your instructor, or select the Communication link from the navigation bar.

Live classroom link

Step 3: On the next screen, select Live Classrooms. Wimba will launch in a separate window.

Part 2: The Wimba Wizard

Wimba provides a setup wizard to assist you to prepare your computer for participating in a live Wimba session, or viewing a prerecorded presentation. The Wimba wizard will detect difficulties as part of the setup process. This portion of the guide provides stepbystep instructions for using the wizard, and provides explanations and solutions for some of the most common conflicts.

NOTE: If your instructor has asked you to participate in a live Wimba session, start here. If you are viewing a prerecorded presentation, skip to step 2.

Step 1: Start your webcam (if applicable) and connect your headset/microphone. You will only need a webcam and a microphone if your instructor has requested that you do. Wimba supports a number of different webcam and headset models. See the help document titled General System and Equipment Requirements for Wimba Classroom for information about recommended and compatible equipment models/brands for purchase.

Follow the manufacturer's specific instructions to install and setup your equipment, as this will vary from model to model.

Headphone plugs

Helpful Tip: If you are using a headset that features traditional 3mm plugs (like those shown), note that they are usually color-coded. You will find jacks (small round openings) on your computer that either correspond to these colors, or feature icons indicating a microphone and speakers. The green plug corresponds to the speaker jack; the pink/peach plug corresponds to the microphone jack.

Step 2: Open your browser (IE or Firefox) and navigate to the Wimba Classroom, as instructed by your Wimba administrator, meeting host, or course instructor.

Important Note: If you are using Internet Explorer and receive the following warning message, select Yes.

Security warning dialog window

The Wimba system is safe for browsing, and will not compromise your computer security. Failure to display all items on the page will prevent Wimba from working properly.

Step 3: Enter the Wimba Classroom and run the wizard.

Wimba Wizard start screen

If you are using Wimba Classroom for the first time, select the Run Wizard button. Wimba will guide you through a series of steps to ensure that your computer is properly equipped and configured for audio and/or video communication.

Wimba wizard start screen

Select the Start button to proceed.

Wizard Test 1: Popup Blockers

Popup blocker yellow bar

Wimba behaves within your browser as a popup. If you are also using a popup blocker, Wimba will not function properly. NOTE: The yellow bar at the top of the window indicates that a pop-up blocker is running and is interfering with Wimba.

Popup blocker options menu

To disable the popup blocker, select the yellow bar with your mouse, and select Always allow popups from this site from the dropdown menu. The popup blocker will continue to protect you from other websites, but allow Wimba to function.

Relaunch wizard link

After you have disabled the popup blocker, select the Relaunch Wizard link to restart the wizard.

important notice

Google Toolbar


Google Toolbar is a popular browser addon, used by many people. It is designed to add additional features to your browser. It can even come bundled with other software installations, so it is possible to install the Google Toolbar without even realizing it.

The Google toolbar

If you see this toolbar at the top of your browser window, you are running Google Toolbar. Google Toolbar includes a popup blocker that interferes with Wimba, and installation of the Google Toolbar is not recommended for Wimba users. You can modify the Google Toolbar security settings or remove it.

Google pop-up blocker

Instructions for modifying the Google Toolbar settings can be found on Google's website.

If you already have Google Toolbar installed, use the following procedures for removing it.

Wizard Test 2: Java

What is Java?
Java is a computer programming language. Many helpful programs that you find online such as chat messengers, online games and mortgage calculators, to name a few are written using Java. These applications, written in the Java programming language and accessible from your browser, are called "applets". Some of the features of Wimba require Java. Java is produced by the Sun Microsystems company.

The Wimba wizard Java test

This is the screen you will see while the Java test is running. If this portion of the wizard fails, you will need to visit the Sun Microsystems Java website to download and install Java.

To install Java:

The Java download button
The Java installation dialog window
The Java installation screen

Important Note: As part of the Java installation process, you may be offered the option of installing Google Toolbar. DO NOT install the Google Toolbar, as it includes a popup blocker that will conflict with Wimba.

Wizard Test 3: Signed Applet

The Wimba wizard signed applet test

The next screen of the wizard will provide important instructions. Read and follow these instructions carefully to continue the wizard. Then click Next.

Wizard Test 4: Audio Playback

The next portion of the wizard will test if your system is ready to receive and let you hear audio signals. The test may take a few minutes to fully load.

The Wimba wizard audio test

Notice the new toolbar that has appeared on screen. This is identical in appearance to features that are part of the Wimba Classroom.

If you have speakers (or headphones) correctly attached, you will hear a woman's voice talking. Once you hear her finish speaking, select Next.

important

Do not select the Next button until you hear the voice and see the media bar! This test can take as long as a few minutes to load. If you select the Next button before it is complete, you will skip this part of the test and possibly experience audio difficulty during a future Wimba session.

Wizard Test 5: Recording

The last portion of the wizard will test if your system is ready to send audio signals, so that you can send your voice for others to hear you talking. The test may take a few minutes to fully load.

The talk button

If you have a microphone (or headset) correctly attached, you will hear some beeps, followed by silence.

Click and hold down the Talk button with your mouse, while you practice saying something into your microphone. If you can hear your own voice, after a very brief delay, your microphone is working correctly.

NOTE: If you are not using a microphone, simply wait until the feature finishes loading, and then click the Next button.

Why is there a delay?
Your speech is translated by the computer from sound waves into a digital signal that is sent, via the Internet, to another location, and then back again. This whole process of translation and signal travel time creates a small delay. When you think about it, it really is quite amazing that your voice can travel thousands of miles in under a second! The greater the distance between those who are talking in a Wimba Classroom session, along with the rate at which any particular Internet connection can transfer data will result in a greater or lesser delay. Bear this in mind when speaking in the Wimba Classroom; others may need a moment to finish hearing your message before they can begin a response.

The next button

When the recording test is finished, select the Next button.

A listing of all completed tests

Note that all of the test items in the listing are checked successfully. Select the Finished! button to close the wizard and return to the Wimba entry screen.

Part 3: A Tour of the Wimba Classroom

A map of the Wimba classroom layout
General Features Guide:
  1. Audio Controls - Select this icon to view audio menu options.
  2. Phone Simulcast - Select this icon to view the phone number and access code for access to audio over phone line instead of using the Internet. (Note: Long distance telephone charges may apply).
  3. Chat area - Use the text box at the bottom to type a message, and type the Return or Enter key on the keyboard to send a text message that others will see. Other participant messages will also appear here.
  4. Yes/No/Hand Raise Buttons - If a participant selects one of these options, an indicator will appear by his/her name in the listing. This is very helpful for managing user questions and quick polling.
  5. Participant Frame - Provides a listing of all other persons logged into the session.
  6. Branding Frame - Administrative access is required to modify the image that is displayed here.
  7. Exit/Lobby/Help buttons - Click these to perform one of these functions.
  8. Presenter's console - Only presenters (instructors) have access to these features; students and general participants will not see these features.
  9. Content Frame - This is the main display area of Wimba. Participants and students will see what is displayed in this area.
  10. eBoard Tool bar - By default, participants and students cannot see this toolbar.
  11. Access to some of the tools can be shared by the instructor/presenter if students or participants wish to give temporary control to students.
  12. Archive - Select the gray dot to record the session for later viewing. The dot will turn red when recording is ON. Select the dot again to pause or end a recording. By default, only instructors and presenters will see this feature.
Features in Detail

Media System:

The Media bar and options menu
  1. Internet Connectivity Status Indicator - Three green bars indicates maximum connection quality. Bar color and number changes as connectivity deteriorates. One red bar means poorest quality access. Poor quality access may affect video or audio support. For users with low bandwidth connection access, the Phone Simulcast may offer better audio reception.
  2. Talk Button - Click and hold this button (or, alternatively, hold down the CTRL key on the keyboard) to talk. Release the button to end your comment.
  3. Speaker/Microphone Volume Controls - Select the speaker icon to view the volume controls for your speakers and your microphone. Volume levels are reflected by the colored audio bars, which will light up when audio is either received or transmitted.
  4. Phone Simulcast - Select this icon to view the phone number and access code for audio via telephone (the best quality option for dialup Internet users). Long distance telephone charges may apply.
  5. Options Menu - Provides a listing of other menu settings and options.
  6. Lock Talk - Selecting the Options menu (see #5) displays the Media Options available for Wimba. Select "Lock Talk" to permanently set your microphone to On so that you can speak without holding down the Talk button or CTRL key. Toggle this feature Off, by reselecting it, when you are finished speaking. This feature is not recommended for use when many participants will be talking together in conversation.

Chat Frame:

The text chat panel
  1. Recipient List - Use this dropdown menu to choose to whom the message will be visible. By default, this menu is set to "MAIN ROOM" and all users will receive messages that are typed into the message box.
  2. Message box - type outgoing messages here.
  3. Public Message - By default, all messages sent will be visible to all participants.
  4. Private Message - Messages appear here (in gray) are only visible between a subset of participants. Use the Recipient List menu to send a Private Message.
  5. Scroll Lock - By default, the chat window will autoscroll as new messages are sent, to display the most current message. Click the bars to disable autoscroll.

Participant Frame:

The participant panel
  1. People List - Displays the screen names of all participants in the session, in an alphabetical list by first letter.
  2. NetStats - Indicates the quality of Internet access for each person in the session. Three green bars indicates the best quality and one red bar indicates the poorest quality. The quality of Internet access will affect participants' ability to send and receive audio and video communications.
  3. Talk indicator - A "plus" sign indicates the participant can use a microphone to send audio.
  4. Video indicator - A "plus" sign indicates the participant can use a webcam to send video.
  5. Chat indicator - A "plus" sign indicates the participant can use the chat frame to send text messages.
  6. Hand raise button - When this button is selected, a number displays in the column corresponding to the participant's name, indicating that he/she is "raising a hand" to ask a question or make a comment. Numbers are listed in the order that hands are raised, so that questions/comments can be answered in sequential order.
  7. Yes/No indicator - When either button is selected, a check or "X" appears in the columns following the person's name and indicates that the participant has answered "Yes" or "No" as prompted by the presenter.

Video Panel (* Web camera and microphone installation are required to use these features. Broadband Internet connectivity is also required.):

The video camera start icon
A participant as appearing in the video panel
The picture-in-picture button
No video is displayed
  1. If using live video, mouseclick the video camera icon located on the media bar.
  2. Your face will appear in a separate window. The iris open button is lit orange to indicate that your webcam is operating and sending video. This window will display the person who is currently speaking. If no other person is talking, the default view is to display the person designated as the presenter.
  3. If multiple persons in the session are using webcams to send video, consider using the Picture-in-Picture feature. You will always be able to see yourself, displayed in the corner of the video frame alongside the current speaker. Use the button to toggle this feature off and on.
  4. If no video is available, or if you click the iris open button to disable video, a placeholder window is provided; others will see this image as well.

Frequently Asked Questions


The NetStats indicator
 
  1. Why can't I send chat messages?
    Your presenter has disabled chat abilities. You can always send private messages to your presenter.


  2. Can I download the presentation slides to my computer?
    No. You must either ask your presenter to e-mail you the presentation materials or if the presentation has been archived you can review them then. Or the instructor/presenter may have posted them on a course website or class management system.


  3. This message has appeared on my screen for the past few minutes: "One moment please. Loading..."
    If you have not run and passed all the tests in the Live Classroom Setup Wizard, close the interface and run the Wizard for further troubleshooting. If you have already run and passed all tests in the Wizard, close the interface and try logging in again.


  4. I do not hear audio, even though the presentation has started.
    • Close the interface and run the Wizard for further troubleshooting. If you have already run the Wizard set up and passed, then check on the following:
    • Ensure that Wimba Media has connected by viewing the NetStats Indicator bars (the colored bars in the lower left-hand corner of the screen). If you do not see a triangle above the tallest bar, you were unable to connect. You will not have the ability to send or receive audio.
    • If you should ever lose your connection, you may be able to re-launch by clicking the Options Menu and selecting the Reconnect Media. This will restore your connection to presentation media.
  5. I lost my audio during the middle of the presentation
    • Select the Lobby link (located in the lower right-hand corner of the screen), to go back out to the lobby area. Then rejoin the presentation by clicking the link for your class or presentation.
    • Make sure your speakers and headphones are still plugged into your computer.


  6. Other users cannot hear me when I speak into my microphone.

    The Talk button
    Audio enabled icon
    The Options menu
    • Ensure that you are holding the Ctrl key or selecting and holding the Talk button with your mouse when speaking.
    • It will turn yellow-orange when you do.


    • Ensure that you have speaking privileges. Check that the audio icon is enabled next to your name (indicated with a circular plus sign).


    • Ensure that your hardware and volume settings are correct.
    • If you should lose your connection to Wimba, you can re-launch it by clicking the Options Menu and selecting Reconnect Media. This will restore your connection to the presentation.


    • Ensure that your microphone is correctly plugged into the computer.


  7. The slides on my screen are not changing.
    Your browser most likely needs to be refreshed. Click the Lobby button and re-join the presentation by clicking the link for your class or presentation. If you are connected via a dial up modem, you may need to wait until the slides load completely on your computer.


  8. An archived presentation will not start.
    You may not have the appropriate media plugin and or configuration to view the archive. Close the interface and run the Wizard for further troubleshooting.