Conference Calls

Our learning design regularly incorporates breakouts into synchronous sessions and this week we got a reminder that if the technology isn't transparent then it's like having a wall in the middle of your classroom.
For the past two years we've been using Premiere Conferenceing to handle the conference calls and provide the synchronous platform (VisionCast, their branded version of PlaceWare now LiveMeeting) for one of our programs. Their execution after a little roughness in the first session or two has been virtually flawless to the point of anticipating what the presenter and participants are going to do next. Moreover, their customer relations have been fantastic. Our conference manager, Matthew Fleming, couldn't be better.
Well, this year our client asked if we could use MCI instead because they had an enterprise-wide contract. What a disaster. It took them five minutes to get the 27 participants into 9 breakout groups. Premiere takes about 30 seconds. The MCI operator never let us know when we were in a private call or when the participants could hear us. On at least one occasion the particpants were brought back from their breakout session and were joined to the presenters private call without any warning. The operators couldn't get participant lines open in a reasonable amount of time which dramatically slowed the interaction.
Needless to say, Premiere is back on board to do the rest of the sessions.

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