NEW Home
NEW Publications

NetLab Home
NetLab Pubs



Network EducationWare

NEW was developed to be easy to use; still, it helps to have some basic directions. The following was written to give new users of NEW a quick start.

Getting Started
Probably, you will log on to NEW through a webpage. Just provide your username and password, and select the course or conference to which you belong. Then follow directions to load the software, if needed, and choose a teaching or conferencing connection or other task from the radio buttons on the 'welcome' webpage.

Alternately, you might be logging on directly, without a webserver. In this case you will provide the same information (username, password, course ID) in spaces provided on the Floor Control or Playback Control modules.

Seize the Floor
To talk, write on the whiteboard, launch a URL or launch an application, you must have the floor. If you are the teacher, you also will be designated a floor controller which means you get the floor anytime you ask for it. This is also true for anybody in a conference with an uncontrolled floor: No need to ask, just click on the pink button:

You can voluntarily give up the floor by clicking again the same button, which now will be blue:

As a controller, you can take the floor away from the current floorholder (the one whose cell is red) by clicking Request Floor. In most cases when you are teaching, your students will not have this option. When a student clicks Request Floor you will hear a beep and the corresponding cell will turn pink.

To give the student the floor, you can click on the cell. (You can always take it back; as controller, you are in charge.)

To see the full name of a participant, hold the cursor over the cell for a few seconds; the name will pop up.

Floor Control Chat and URL Launch

The floor control has a built-in chat feature. This is handy when the sound is off or you do not want to make noise. It also lets students who are not set up with a microphone send questions and comments.

As marked on the floor control panel, the student has two options for chat: SEND TO PROF, which goes only to controllers, or SEND TO ALL, which does what it says:

Another input space illustrated above and worth noting is LAUNCH URL. When you type a URL here, a browser will launch on each NEW desktop and attempt to load the URL from the Internet. Although you have no control over the format (browsers vary widely), this can be a very timely feature. NOTE: if you follow a link on the browser, you need to tell the students to click on the link, too--link changes do not propagate to the other users.

Sending Audio
A guiding principle of NEW is that good audio is essential. The Speak Freely audio tool is one of the best anywhere, and we have added a compact interface with all the controls in one place. The audio tool is set to start sending when you take the floor or, for a student, when you hand over the floor.

You can tell the mode of the audio by the color in the interface. AGC means automatic gain control, which is another way of saying, "nearly user-proof." But there is one part of audio where it cannot do the work for you: unless the students in the classroom have microphones you will need to REPEAT THE QUESTION asked, so the online students know what was asked. You may want to deputize a student in the classroom to help you remember to do this.

The Whiteboard
As long as your microphone is working, you can pretty much forget about the audio. You need to focus on the other critical component of teaching: graphic presentation. The NEW whiteboard is a very flexible tool that will let you present your slides and annotate them. Everything you see on the whiteboard is also sent to all other whiteboards in the session within a few seconds.

The blue and green buttons across the bottom of the board are those that manage whole pages. The options here cover anything from photographs, to PowerPoint and LaTeX slides, to contents of any window active on the teaching computer, to plain old typing and handwriting.

The buttons on the upper right edge of board are tools for annotating slides and blank pages. You can enter text (T), draw lines, arrows, rectangles, and ellipses, or write freehand (for this, a tablet input is recommended).


bottom row
Slide Import       brings in a PDF, JPEG, HTML, or TXT file
(you can make almost anything into a PDF;
see Convert Slides below)
Blank Page       gives you a fresh whiteboard to draw, write, or type on.
Window Import       posts a JPEG of any active window on your computer
(captured by clicking on the window and then pressing 'ALT' and
'PrintScreen' on your Windows keyboard before you click it).
Use the 'config' button for continuous updates to the window
for running applications.
Go To Page       produces a list of all your pages, so you can jump to one.
Prev Page       steps back through the previous pages you have imported.
Next Slide       displays the next slide. It will import a new slide if the present slide is
the last one imported. The slides with their annotations are kept in memory,
so if you have used Prev Page to go back, Next Page will repeat the
following pages in memory (with annotations) before importing a new slide.
Erase       when pressed, erases selected annotation.
Config       when pressed, a menu of possible configurations for the annotation appears.
Options are provided for:
  • changing the line or arrow width
  • changing the text font
  • changing which side of the whiteboard displays the tool buttons
  • setting double-click option so that double click anywhere on the board will load next slide
  • setting whether the annotations persist or flash or display one at a time
    NOTE: 'persist' is useful for drawing
  • setting Import Window to update continuously or not
  • locking and unlocking the whiteboard control buttons
  • Color       press to change color of next annotation

    Convert Slides       when pressed, provides easy slide conversion (see 'Convert Slides button' below).
    Export as PDF       exports all on the whiteboard to a PDF and provides location of PDF
    Use this when a hard copy of an annotated slide is needed.
    About WBD       displays the max slide file size and notes about the programmers.

    Convert Slides button
    The easiest way to prepare slides for the whiteboard is to make a multi-page PDF file and place it in the 'slides' directory. And here are some other options. At the lower right edge of the whiteboard is the Convert Slides button that will accept a multi-page file and break it up into the single-page PDF or JPEG files used with the whiteboard. It also will perform these other handy tricks.

    • if PowerPoint is installed, selecting a .ppt file will cause it to be converted to individual files
      NOTE: with Windows, you will need to install a driver. See notes below.
    • it will convert RTF plus PS files saved from PowerPoint to individual files (click on the .rtf)
    • it will convert TEX plus PS files saved from LaTeX to individual files (click on the .tex)
    • in each case above, it will choose PDF or JPEG in order to stay under the whiteboard's 64KB file limit, and also will name the individual slides from the PowerPoint or LaTeX titles
    • from arbitrary PDF or PS multi-page files, it will give each individual file produced a number in sequence
    • it will make a zipfile of the whole directory of files produced for compact transfer and storage (the zipfile in turn can be input to the IMPORT SLIDE function; just select it and the whiteboard will expand it into a proper directory)
    • it will make postable student handout PDF files with one, two, three, or six slides per page
    • it costs much less than the TAs who previously did all this stuff
    Convert Slides supports only static slides. It will not reproduce PowerPoint effects such as zoom-in and fade-in. In addition, the 'transparent' feature is not usable.

    The maximum file size for a slide in any format is 128KB. This limit is set inside NEW In the case of JPEG slides, the whiteboard will accept a larger file and attempt to reduce its size by recoding to a lower quality JPEG.

    Convert Slides does have one annoying requirement, to convert slides using Powerpoint on Windows: you must install the HP Color LaserJet 8500 PS driver in order for it to work. See Windows file C:\Program Files\NEW\CONVERT\CONVERT-INFO.txt. However, you do not need this driver to convert using Open Office or to use 'Convert Slides' on a multiple page PDF file.

    Lastly, a note about the part of the whiteboard that is not user-proof: it cannot keep you from pointing at the screen when you should be using the cursor arrow. Those online do not see you pointing. Here again, you might ask an on-the-ball student to remind you: DO NOT POINT AT THE SCREEN.

    Record Control
    The other tool in the NEW teaching setup is the control for the recorder that makes your class available at all hours of the day and night. The Record Control is so simple that there is not much to say about it.

    The record control features a set of popup signs which are intended to be downright annoying until you start the recorder, send it audio, and send it a slide. This last point is a little subtle: the recorder captures only what happens while it is running. If you load a slide to the whiteboard and then start recording, that slide will not show up in the playback. (If you forget and load the slide first, you can simply load it again after starting the recorder.) You can pause the recorder for a break. When you do this, another user-proofing sign will appear until you start it again. When you stop the recorder, the file is terminated. (There is a utility program RESEQ that will splice recording files together, should you choose to make a recording in segments. See NEW documentation for details.)

    The NEW server also makes a recording of each scheduled class meeting, so if you forget to turn on the recorder, you have that to fall back on. However, the server recorder does not pause and, of course, does not work in case of a network failure.

    You can make a recording without a server connection using RECORD-STANDALONE.nwc in the NEW directory (C:\Program Files\NEW). You will need to click Send on the NEW Speak Freely panel to start audio capture (normally this happens automatically when you click Request Floor).

    Playback Control
    After a recording is made, you can play it back locally or upload it to the server. To play locally, go to C:/Program Files/NEW and click on PLAY-STANDALONE.nwc. The filename will be made from the date, hour and minute the recording started. You can change this name to a mnemonic name using Windows; however, you must not change the .nwr extension. You can then use the instructor webpage to upload the recording to the server, where it will be available as a download. Uploaded recordings should be placed in the 'recordings' directory.

    Live Video
    NEW uses a great Internet video tool called VIC. Because video eats up computer and network capacity, we set VIC for slow frame rates and small pictures, even though it is capable of good quality video. This is consistent with the fact that most students report they gain very little educational value from a talking head. We generally do not record video, for the same reason. But it is there for students with broadband Internet, and many do connect. In using the video feature, you should try to keep the camera pointed at something interesting. Profile works better than face-on, if you move around while talking.

    Instructor Welcome Page
    These functions are available for the course instructor after log on.

    • Upload (or submit) slides, recordings, and application data
    • Download slides
    • Delete slides, recordings, and application data
      Course Records
    • Course roster: list students in any of your sections as they appear in the NEW database
    • Add student: add a student to any of your sections.
    • Update student: update student information in any of your sections.
    • Course status: display history of uploads of slides, recordings and application data for your course.
    • Update session/add comment: make changes to the course status file.
    • Course statistics: display records of course connections for live classes and recording playback.
      Blackboard and Moodle links
      NEW now provides links to place in your Blackboard or Moodle course to connect directly to NEW.
    • Recordings (links found on download page)
    • Slides (links found on download page)
    • Live class connection (link found in connection drop-down menu)

    More Sophisticated On-line Teaching

    As controller, you may launch two activities using the floor control. First, when you press the "Voting" button, the voting interface shown below will appear. When you type a question and start the vote, all those logged on will see the voting interface and be able to vote.

    Second, when you press the "Breakout" button, the interface for setting up groups of students in "breakout rooms" will appear, as shown below. With this interface, the groups you set up can interact with each other apart from the rest of the students.

    That's All, Folks
    Of course, there is more to know about NEW, but probably you would rather get on with your class or conference. It is really pretty simple! Please help us make it better by reporting problems and suggesting improvements to:

    Last updated: 01/12/2010