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Java for e-learning chat room??

Lucy Smail
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 4
Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this but I need some advice from some java-savvy people - please be kind!

We have a large distance-learning course running on software from quite a well-known provider of VLEs. They promised us a "whiteboard" feature, which is a kind of glorified chat room that displays pictures on a whiteboard as well as allowing people to chat and we use it for assessed online meetings.

When the whiteboard was finally delivered, it turned out to be a stand-alone java app, and our students had great difficulty in getting it running. Most of them needed to download the entire JRE from Sun in order to run the program - and a significant number never actually got it to work.

We had to backtrack and use their (rather primitive) normal chat room instead, which lacks various features that we need.

We need a solution that 100% of students can use, no buts. Are we stuck with a bog-standard chat room for ever? Is it at all likely that the application could be re-written as an applet - and would this increase the likelihood that all the students could access it or not? any other ideas?
[ September 28, 2004: Message edited by: Lucy Smail ]
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2000
Posts: 5093
why did students not get it to run after installing a JRE?

There's JREs available for just about every computer platform you could expect students to be using (plus many they're unlikely to use).

Given that most will use Windows, installation should be a breeze (though of course some companies might disallow staff to install software on their machines but then they're unlikely to be allowed to install your own software as well).

If rewritten as an applet, users would still need to have a JRE installed (as part of the installation of a modern browser plugin).

It might be better if you supply the JRE with the software (as your supplier should have done or at least advised in the first place) for common platforms in use with your customers.

http://www.java.com/en/index.jsp is the consumer download page.
Windows, Solaris, Mac (external link) and Linux versions can be obtained there, for other platforms the operating system vendor will have to be contacted (most will have it somewhere on their websites).

To ease installation of the software itself, you might consider having it packaged as a Java Webstart application. Your vendor will have to do this for you.


42
Lucy Smail
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 4
That is much what our programmers said too. However in reality, we have students all over the world, often not very confident with IT, using old computers, with slow dial-up connections etc...

Those who did get it working complained it took several hours to download and set up. Others got confused and discouraged or their computer just didn't like it for some reason. (Even when I run the app it tends to crash my computer fairly regularly.) It just doesn't seem very user friendly or reliable.
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
we have students all over the world, often not very confident with IT, using old computers, with slow dial-up connections etc...

Those who did get it working complained it took several hours to download and set up.


You can get the Java Runtime Environment on a CD for $10 at
http://www.java.com/en/download/get_cd.jsp

In my first Java class, the professor provided screen shots of the installation process for j2sdk and NetBeans. If installing your application is that hard, perhaps a student who got it working can do the same. Of course, the screen shots can take a while to download.


Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
Lucy Smail
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 4
1. Are you allowed to copy and distribute the java cd? (Although the students won't all be using the same OS.)

2. Do you know if it is possible to do this kind of thing (deluxe chatroom with photos) with server side programming so that people don't need any big downloads? (Even if not in java...)
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
I don't know if you can freely copy and distribute the jre, but is $10 such a big deal? You can buy one copy and check the license or maybe someone else reading this knows the answer.

As for putting the pictures on a BB, you can do this easily on many BB's, but I don't see how the transmission time differs between a jpg on a BB post and a jpg in a download. Bytes are bytes.
 
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subject: Java for e-learning chat room??