Tag Archives: elluminate in education

What if?

What if? This question was posed frequently at the recent Innovations Showcase. What if……..?

  • Innovations Showcase participants could be shown what a connected classroom  looks, feels and sounds like, using videoconferencing to raise cultural awareness.
  • cultural understanding and awareness can be increased in real time with students who come from other cultures/countries/schools.
  • students could text chat one on one and share conversations, in real time, with each other from other countries.
  • students could share their learning with others across cultures/countries
  • students are able to study the subjects of their choice independent of class sizes, teacher availability etc
  • the use of videoconferencing and web conferencing could be spread across many more classrooms in Victoria and Australia?
  • students who are home for some reason, can attend classes virtually.

What if? This question was posed at the recent, highly successful Innovations Showcase enabled more than 1200 participants to come together to share in innovation in education. One of the themes was of high interest to me – “Inter Cultural Understanding”. As our school is a small rural, remote prep to year 12 school – isolated both geographically and culturally, it has been important to use technology to expose, integrate and associate with other cultures.  As such, “Little Big Classrooms” was the theme of my presentation.

To demonstrate what a connected classroom looks, feels and sounds like, my dear online colleague from Malaysia, Veronica Woo at teacher at SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, agreed to linkup her class with the presentation. Her years 9 and 10 students performed an entertaining and professional capella based on the Lion King and a choral reading. (58 students in total). Here is some feedback from Veronica after the event:-

Well, it is definitely the power of Skype connection, you and the audience that have immensely helped in motivating our students, who are learning English in a very challenging situation where they rarely speak English among themselves, but it’s only with us that they have got no choice but to speak English!  All this, plus the realisation on their part, that they have actually performed in front of a native English speaking audience of educators that have also helped in a way!  Thanks to the event organiser and of course, you, Anne, for making this possible! Hopefully, the other students will also be motivated to see their peers’ achievement and change their attitudes and perception towards learning English.

Read more in this post Malaysian Students in a Real time Performance for the Innovations Showcase Please take time to read the comments where the conversations re cultural understanding continue.

Teaching my Year 11 IT class!

Other What if’s that  became reality at Innovations Showcase

  • In the morning, I taught my accounting class from Melbourne. This consisted of 10 of my own school students, two from a city school and another student from a small country school. They can study accounting despite their school not being able to offer the subject. Here is the link to the recording of this class.
  • A second demonstration involved teaching my year 11 IT class from the huge foyer of the Melbourne Entertainment and Convention Centre back at school, to find a student logged in from home (as they were not able to get to school) and my replacement teacher also listening to the instructions. As the students faced a deadline for uploading their video in the Flat Classroom Projects, students mentored and helped each other in the chat. Elluminate, virtual conference software was used for the virtual classroom. Here is the link to the recording of this class.
  • SRC students who were at the Showcase entered the virtual classroom and chatted to my students back at school.

It is not what if?

…….Technology allows all this but ………

What next?

An SRC student rep chats to my year 11 class

eT@lking: Classroom20LIVE -Behind the Scenes

Our presenter tonight, was Kim Caise an experienced online user who is one of the organisers of the popular Classroom20LIVE weekly online sessions. Kim shared so much of her experience and expertise. This included  how she, Peggy George and Lorna Constantini organise, prepare, moderate and  finalize the sessions. If you are interested in using webconferencing in your classroom, staffroom or PD, make sure you view the recording.

From the chat:-

Learning Adventures in Blackboard Collaborate

Over the last semester, my classes and school have continued to witness the exciting possibilities of using virtual classroom software. Some of the wonderful adventures that we have experienced are:

  1. Malaysian Connections Connecting in real time with a school in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
  2. Digital Accounting Linking up my virtual accounting student with my face to face class, once a week, in an elluminate session
  3. Techno Parents Connecting staff and students with our school parent body on a weekly basis, at night time, over a trial period of three weeks.
  4. Student 2.0 Student A university student from the University of Ballarat ran an online session with my year 12 students, giving them encouragement to apply for university, tips/hints pre attending uni, what to expect at uni and generally answering questions from the students.

The options for interactivity and engagement, make elluminate and other virtual classroom software a powerful tool in the learning and teaching process.

First, a little about my school – Hawkesdale P12 College. We are a small rural school in country Victoria, Australia – a school that is prep to year 12, culturally and geographically isolated. This year, I teach year 11 and 12 accounting in one classroom and in amongst that I have an accounting student from another school, 1 ½ hours distant from mine. To give him a more intimate learning environment, I book an elluminate room each week through my Department of Education. Although, we have had many technical issues, most not related to the software tool, when it works, it gives a chance to interact, connect and communicate as ‘one class’.

The Malaysian Connections

For me and my students, this has been the most exciting of all our adventures in elluminate. Having met Zainuddin at a Pacific/Asia MS Innovative Teachers conference in 2008, we were determined to work together and see how we could connect our classes.  His school is Taman Burkitt Maluri School, Kuala Lumpur. For 5 exciting sessions we were able to link up in real time and share our classes in the elluminate environment. Technical issues abounded on their end as the internet access suffers from a lower bandwidth. Skype was used as the back channel. However as the weeks progressed, they overcame their problems and we settled into our class together, sharing our likes, passions, ideas on education, cultures, different foods etc. In fact, in one of our sessions, we were fortunate to have Lindy Stirling, the state advisor for Asia Studies with us. These sessions provide a glimpse into the powerful future, possibilities and direction that education can take. They were the highlight of both schools’ students’ week and utter engagement, excitement and pure concentration were evident as they chatted, shared the whiteboard and attempted to use the microphone. (An evaluation post will be written in the near future) But this blog post from one of the students, immediately after our first session says so much about it. See blog post – dhugsy

For more details see the following:-

Techno Parents was another amazing linkup. Despite fears that most would not be able to connect (due to our rurality and often lack of mobile phone network), each week we had parents, mostly with the students beside them,staff, including our Principal and members of our Leadership Team in the ‘room’ sharing stories about our week in the school and the classroom, and even hobbies/personal pursuits of teachers, connecting in the virtual room. Parents often valiantly used the microphone to ask questions and were happy using the chat feature for questions or feedback. On our first night, a teacher from Darwin, (the top end of Australia and we are the bottom end) came online with us, talking about the teddy bear exchange with us. Many ideas were put forward as to how this might continue and the direction it might take. Further reflective posts will be written but here are links to some blog posts on the previous sessions.

Student2.0 Student   Link to the recording with Hein a final year Education student shares with my year 12 class  – University Life

Parent Partnerships – Final steps in transforming school communities

Techno Parents Online in Elluminate

Our goal

To offer three online elluminate sessions over a three week period to parents of students who are part of our 1:1 netbook program.

Our approach

  • Three weekly sessions were held online, on a Monday evening from 7:30-8:30pm.
  • An initial face to face meeting was held with parents/student and netbooks in the library.
  • Our first online session launch was the first day of Education Week.
  • Notes went home with the 1:1 netbook students, newsletter notices
  • User documentation was sent to those who showed interest.
  • Email contact and phone number backups for the sessions were given. Parents made use of both those means of communication

Initial reaction

  • Strong support from staff and leadership
  • Keen interest from parents, excitement, nervousness but real determination to be part of this.

What worked

  • Amazingly everything did! Parents with the help of their students were able to logon.
  • Having parents, students and staff all in one virtual classroom
  • Icebreakers eg build the snowman, make a pizza that everyone can eat
  • Sharing classroom stories
  • Having our teddy bear linkup teacher from Darwin online with us the first session, talking about how excited her students are to share an exchange with us. They have a large proportion of African students and they think that there are lots of elephants, zebras etc in Victoria. It was really interesting to hear about their mix, technology use (or lack of) etc. Created a lot of interest through the chat
  • Marg M, one of our teachers, talking about their hobby of raising macaw birds and sharing pictures with us. Made everyone relaxed, got questions started in the chat etc.
  • Using images to talk to
  • Staff learning and sharing about we are doing

Topics covered:-

  • The ultranet
  • What’s on this week
  • The maths/science classroom
  • Our biodiversity program
  • The Techno 5 class blog, homework page and asking parents to ‘add their day in a sentence”
  • Mathletics
  • Global connections
  • Cows Create Careers and Horticulture in the middle school
  • From the prep class room! Gorgeous images, great activities (mentors, dance, art etc) and wonderful use of ICT. Some of the preps were online with their parents and pointed out their work.

Faces of the preps

Ideas for further use of connections with parents in elluminate

  • Maths -Parent tutoring Keep the parents up to date with what is being done…especially with the new technologies..ie graphics calculators – Mathletics
  • Good way to train parents on the use of the Ultranet later in the year
  • Online Open day and night?
  • Arts – film, photography and graphic arts exhibitions
  • whole of school approaches to particular social issues such as promoting healthy relationships, positive body image, Aboriginal reconcilitation etc.  Of course student learning and stories would be great too and tuition sessions in a range of subject areas.
  • potential for kids who miss school through illness
  • From school council president
  • As long as it was in addition to in person sessions, not instead of.
  • Could hear from our student teachers
  • Ross Student: About what happens in other schools and presentations from kids
  • Maybe even if you did one/two levels at a time
  • It would be good to hear what Parents Club are doing and how we could get other parents involved

The unexpected results:-

  • Students were happy to come on the mic and talk about their day’s activities
  • The keen interest shown by parents and staff
  • My school staff were able to experience the benefits and potential of working online in a virtual classroom
  • The confidence of parents and willingness to use the chat, whiteboard and microphone.

What could be improved:-

  • advertise the agenda well ahead of time, rather than throw it all together a day or so before
  • Share an online document or encourage comments on the posts that were published on the school blog for feedback and evaluation
  • Evaluation survey needs to be set up
  • Share the responsibility of planning sessions with staff, students and parents
  • Vary the chief moderator when other staff become confident
  • Some parents did have difficulties with java errors  and could not get in – need documentation on that
  • Some parents still have dial up internet access, some have no internet access

The outcome

  • Unanimous agreement that the sessions continue on a regular basis – monthly for a start

How to advertise these sessions!

  • Individual notes to home
  • On the school blog
  • Newsletter
  • Parent buddies,each of us invite a new person each time
  • email groups

Final words from the one of the parents:

Rochelle: Thanks everyone, very elluminating!

Tracey: This is all interesting, even with Em at Prep it is interesting to see what the older kids are doing

Helen S: loved hearing about what’s happening at school and hearing from Rachel in /Darwin

Tracey: Love to hear what they are doing in the classrooms, the different technologies they are using

If I go into the room today, I’m in for a big surprise!

At a recent online session for web conference leaders someone asked what to do “should everything go amiss!” Response: “The show must go on!”
Well…. I had a night like that tonight. Logging onto the room for our second of three series for TechnoParents and connecting staff and parents together, I was utterly dismayed to realise that I had forgotten to book the room through the online conference centre! Initially we were going to start two weeks earlier but due to a busy calendar delayed the commencement of the online sessions.
After some quick thinking, I quickly booked a room through learncentral, grabbed the link and quickly changed the link on the two blog posts where parents and students would go, to get access to the session. This was 30 mins before we were to start. As the starting time approached, a number of staff logged on, some new to the elluminate environment. It was starting time, and we still just had staff until a parent appeared in the participants list and then several more. The session commenced and followed the following agenda:-
1. Quick tour around the features of elluminate
2. An icebreaker. Participants were asked what ingredients they do not like on their pizza from the following options:- pineapple, olives, salami, cheese. Participants then had to make up three pizzas that all of us would eat.
3. Sharing stories – what I do in my spare time! Thanks to Marg M for sharing their bird raising (Macaws) stories with us.
4. The Ultranet – with our Principal, Mr Colan Distel
5. Sustainability projects in our school with Britt Gow
6. Link up with American School of Bombay , Mumbai, India and our years 5/6 student volunteers at lunchtime, to discuss racism and Australia going to India to play sport with me, Anne M
7. Whiteboard brainstorming – where can we go with these online sessions with fantastic input and great ideas from both parents and staff?
Next week we have our year 7 and prep transition information evening. Should we invite interested prospective parents to come online with us for next week’s session?

Link to the recording

 Link to recording

If I go into the room today….

As I entered the elluminate room tonight, I wondered what I would find. I had just answered a phone call from a parent who had problems entering the scheduled room and spent 10 mins or so, trying to step her throught the processes of unblocking the popup filters on her computer. It was with some nervousness that I logged on to the room.

What if there is noone there, what if noone can get in, what if the audio does not work, what if my internet fails…

It was 15 mins after the room had officially opened, that I got in. To my great surprise there were already nine partipants in the room – a mix of staff, students and parents. Time was spent testing microphones and sound, with the usual mix of problems. Fortunately the majority of presenters were able to use their microphones. Here is the link to the recording! Soon, it was time to start the session. After a brief introduction to elluminate, an ice breaker requested participants to write their names on the board, colour them and make them look ‘pretty’. Soon we had a neat colourful board of names! The following speakers were given 7 mins or more to speak on their chosen topic. Here is what it looked like! (Here is the link to the recording)

  1. Ms Murnane spoke about her ‘week in a sentence’ task found on her blog, walking parents through how to add a comment and encouraging parents to be involved.
  2. Rachel Neale a prep teacher from Darwin spoke about the ‘teddy bear exchange’ with our school. She had shared photos with us and spoke about her class and why this teddy bear exchange was so important to her culturally mixed class. Tyna Lee (our prep teacher) also spoke about the exchange from Hawkesdale P12 College point of view. Questions came thick and fast for Rachel enquiring about life as a teacher in Darwin. Thanks Rachel for coming online with us.
  3. Mr Keith, our assistant principal spoke briefly on the naplan testing.
  4. Mrs Gow (our maths/science teacher) spoke about activities in maths and science for the past week and showed some wonderful photos of the activities, including the recent healthy breakfast. Finally, the Education week timetable was outlined, with students coming online telling us about the books they are taking to the pre-school to read to the students there. Alannah spoke about the golf day which grade 5s enjoyed today! Suggestions for the future use of elluminate with parents/community were put forward. There will be further sessions over the next two weeks and then it is hoped regular sessions might continue.

Observations:-

  1. Parents quite readily tried the tools and wanted to test microphones. They were far more confident than I thought they would be.
  2. The majority of parents who had said they would participate seemed to be online.
  3. The newsletter publicised our exciting events to be held for Education Week, and realised from the questions, that some information was missing.
  4. The pace of the chat- was very lively much of the time. Most participants placed comments, questions, statements of support etc in the chat. A great interactive feature of elluminate.
  5. Great to have our e-guest from Darwin speaking – added another element of interest for all.
  6. The students spoke and talked about what they had done today and were doing tomorrow adding nother rich element to the conversations.
  7. The strong support from our staff, including the principal class and leadership team.
  8. The strong impact and enrichment that images give to the conversations.

Follow ups

  1. Need to work out why audio did not work for some.
  2. Will question students at school,  to seek out who could not log on and follow up on possible reasons why?
  3. Sift through the chat conversation and record the  suggestions given for future use of elluminate.
  4. Determine what further advice or documentation is required.
  5. Follow up the times for some of the events on Thursday morning for education week.
  6. 7 mins was not long to give each speaker Need to revisit and discuss this limit. However, it does add variety.
  7. We could save the chat conversation but not the whiteboard, so I need to enable that next time.

Thank you to all involved. Another amazing experience showing the power that technology can give to education and transforming communities. Thank you to the virtual conference centre of DEECD for allowing us to use this room.

Related resources of interest. Engaging Parents using Sharepoint

Malaysian Connections #5

Our 5th linkup with Taman Burkit Maluri School and their teacher Zainuddin Zakaria.

This was another fun and exciting lesson.  Listen to the recording.

The lesson plan

  • started with an ice breaker. A image of  snowman in pieces was added to the whiteboard, and students were asked to put it together. However, the snowman took on many shapes as their was no logic to the manner in which students madly scrambled to put it together from both countries.
  • Intervention was required. Students put their hands up, and as their number was called out, they moved one piece of the snowman at any one time, until it looked like a snowman. The pipe ended up in its nose, and the mouth on its stomach, but that simply added to the humour!
  • Flick brought a photo and shared it with the class. Although George brought one, we did not get a chance to look at it.
  • Zainuddin asked a question of the class: “Why do you love blogging?” Responses went on the whiteboard. (see below)
  • One of my students wanted to ask a question, so Danielle proceeded with “What is your favourite song?” Responses came thick and fast on the whiteboard to this question, and to the delight of my class some of their responses were also some of their popular songs.
  • Zainuddin asked the next question: “If you were to travel, which country would you go to and who would you take with you?” Students were required to choose a friend from the other country!! This led to much mirth and laughter
  • Then the bell went!

Screen dumps of the collaborative whiteboard:-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malaysian Connections #3 ends up with Facebook!

Students say thank you

Finally, we are working through all our technical issues on both sides. Students from both schools, Hawkesdale P12, Australia and Taman Burkitt Maluri School, Kuala Lumpur entered the virtual elluminate online classroom a lot earlier for the third session. We were thrilled to welcome Lindy Stirling, the State Advisor for Asian Studies to our joint class today. Zainuddin, our teacher from Malaysia asked students three questions:-

  1. Do you prefer the city or the country? Why?
  2. What do you look for in a friend?
  3. What skill is important to learn?

Here are the whiteboard screen dumps:-

City or country?

 

What do you look for in a friend?

 

favourite foods

Lindy then asked what symbol best describes their country. This took a little explaining but here are the responses as written in text on the whiteboard:-

  • Tiger represents our beautiful country and not forgetting the hibiscus flower that represents the 5 pledges
  • Tiger because it represents bravery, wisdom and one Malaysia
  • Because I am happy to live here
  • Opera House because it is iconic
  • Kangaroo because it is on our coat of arms
  • The outback
  • The emu because it cant walk backwards, and to use it as the Australian’s symbol because it is important that Australia does not take backwards steps.
  • Uluru and the outback as it represents Australia’s most beautiful land

Explainingwhy they are iconic was more challenging. Can you work which are  the Australian responses and which are the Malaysian?

Final outcome: The next day, Melissa, excitedly approached me in the corridor to say that two students from Malaysia had added her on facebook. Now, where could that lead to, I wonder!

Reflections on Ping – 21st century education

In the elluminate classroom
In the elluminate classroom

Two thirds of the way through 2008, my principal came to me with mention of a proposed music project with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. I promptly forgot all about it until towards the end of the final two weeks of term, I was told that a representative was going to come and speak with me and our secondary classroom music teacher. Not wishing to be rude, but being so busy with end of year functions and other exciting online projects that I was involved in, I reluctantly attended the meeting with the full intention of being honest and saying that I really was not interested.

However, 5 minutes into the meeting with Ajax I was ‘hooked’. This was exactly the type of activity I wanted to try out in 2009 and the type of classroom that I was working toward! The answer was:-‘Yes, please! We will be part of it!”

The project:  This pilot project   explored new ways of delivering music education to year 6 and 7 students from 4 rural Victorian schools, using in-house teaching artists, blogging and online virtual classroom workshops with Melbourne Symphony Orchestra  (MSO)and Orchestra Victoria. Students  composed short compositions/sound stories and uploaded them to the  website, as well as participating in online video conference workshops with MSO and Orchestra Victoria musicians.

The classes: As I did not want any of the year 7 students to miss out on this project, 28 students crammed into our computer lab. This meant we had to borrow 5 netbooks to ensure that they all had computer access. Joseph Abou Zeid, a resident artist from the Song Room, worked in the classroom with us. For 50 minutes we would listen to an instrumentalist from MSO or Orchestra Victoria. For the next 50 minutes students would learn how to use audacity and compose their own musical stories. These stories used pre-recorded music clips uploaded onto the Ping blog by the instrumentalists. Students then uploaded their stories back onto the blog.

Learning about the trombone

Learning about the trombone

Engagement in Ping

Engagement in Ping

The highlights

  • Always exciting to be involved in a pilot project – love the challenge, new adventures and the constant learning.
  • Working with the amazingly well connected, Ajax McKerrall, whose innovative idea this project was – a former digital productions manager with the London Symphony Orchestrata – gifted and talented user of multimedia and web 2.0 tools. I learnt so much more by working with him, about blogging, using multimedia and the elluminate room to fuller potential. He capably and professionally led the elluminate class sessions, ensuring that we had the best quality sound from the 3mbs radio studio in Melbourne.
  • The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra came into our classroom, when our students would rarely attend any of their concerts, as Melbourne is 3 ½ hours drive and Warrnambool, our closest regional city centre is 30 mins away. (MSO may visit Warrnambool once a year) To have our students learn about the wonderful classical instruments, their physics, their sounds etc and then to be able to use their recorded clips and mash them together into their own personal musical stories – the impact cannot be justified in words.
  • Having an artist in residence from the Song Room, Joseph Abou Zeid, to teach the students about muscial composition through the free software audacity.
  • The sheer engagement of the students in the elluminate classroom. This was an unexpected outcome. The learning for me, as a teacher, to see each student at their own desktop, interacting with the musicians, chatting, offering feedback, using a range of emoticons to convey feelings, was enlightening. Students would readily state in the chat section that they did not understand the instructions. This rarely occurs in the normal classroom. Students are reluctant to state that they do not understand, they are rarely given the opportunity to offer feedback  or evaluate what the teacher or instructor is saying and are not given the opportunity to interact as individuals.
  • The student outcomes. Their musical stories developed from ‘basic sound grabs thrown together’ that challenged the musical ear, to musical stories that actually reflected animals, soundscapes and ‘stories without words and pictures’.
  • Many of the students who struggle with usual classroom work in the generalist classrooms, were able to excel in this environment. Literacy no longer became an issue as they could work with music and creativity.
  • The collaboration with the students and teachers from the three other rural schools who share similar experiences and characteristics, threats and challenges working on a common and shared blog site . This is an area though, that could be further developed. 
  • Witnessing the increased confidence in all students, especially those who do not normally achieve to a high degree in generalist classrooms.
  • Ovbserving the improvement in student listening skills.
  • Having a chat option when outside the elluminate classroom and when just working on the blog or in the normal IT classroom.

The challenges

  • Lack of Experience: This project started in the first full week of term 1, when 30% of the year 7 class was new to our school, some with little computer expertise and few of the new ones knowing what a blog was and it was their first time in our computer lab. None of the students had been in elluminate before. The rehearsal was done with my year 9/10 class as they were my class at that time.
  • Lack of a computer technician: We were on our own, with many technical hitches getting the audio – microphone/headsets working. The class was noisy trying to work it all out. It took more than 20 minutes for us all to be logged into elluminate. Students had to get used to an online classroom and use the tools there to communicate. Frequently they were vocally calling out for help.
  • The Chat: Initially the chat was being abused, students discovered the private messaging function, but strangely, they did not fiddle with the white board tools. Students tended to ‘bully’ one of the students, but interestingly, other students told them to stop it. A couple of swear words came through and spamming was frequent (where students type 20 smiley faces in one sentence etc.) We worked together to formulate a code of conduct when using online chat. That code now rests on my  class blog and the school blog.
  • The web cameras It was vital that we had the video image on our computer screens, but as we worked in a basic lab, it was difficult to get our webcamera in a position that was useful to our instructors. Being able to see the class was essential for them, but it was an issue that was never really resolved.
  • The time delay The streaming was often delayed between desktops and netbooks in the classroom and this could be annoying.
  • Student curiousity Students will fiddle and check out everything. So hands will be raised for prolonged periods, the white board will be covered with graffiti and private messaging will run rampant. To overcome this, students need time to play and explore and the first lesson should do just this.

After two lessons, I was ready to say that it was not working and we would remove ourselves from the project, but…..

….after 10 mins into the third lesson, I could have heard a pin drop. Students were engaged, listening intently and had sorted out any technical issues by themselves. The tapping of keys would break the silence as students happily chatted away, made use of the range of emoticons and tools  and interacted with the guest musician. They would provide feedback on what they heard, interact and ask questions. They learned to work the chat and asked questions of me through it as well. At times, a student would hum along, oblivious to their surroundings.

And so, I was led into the classroom of the 21st century.

On behalf of the year 7 students and I, I would like to sincerely thank Ajax McKerrall, Joseph Abou Zeid, and the  Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Victoria, The Song Room, and Country Education Project. In particular to our generous sponsors  – the Helen MacPherson Smith Trust and the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Innovation Division.

Ping_trombone_online

Learning outcomes

  • improved listening skills (students were able to interact, use various emoticons and tools to keep them engaged and listening.
  • Appropriate behaviour and codes of conduct in a virtual classroom – (learnt by experiencing)
  • how to tweak the audio controls in elluminate
  • Learnt how to use audacity and many of its finer features to create muscial stories and mp3 files
  • how to grab flk files from the Ping blog to import into audacity
  • how to embed musical stories in mp3 format with a player into a blog
  • how to blog (this was especially so for some of my new students who had never blogged before)

Using elluminate in the classroom

Ping class online

Ping class online

Having used elluminate  over the last 12 months for regular global staff meetings, online conferences and online professional development, it has only been this year, that I have used it with students and realised its potential application to being the way to go for 21st century education middle to senior school students.

A trombonist teaches year 7

A trombonist teaches year 7

Various benefactor organizations, and our own Victorian Education and Early Childhood Department, Australia, have sponsored a 12 week program for bringing music to three or four remote, rural schools.
Ajax McKerrall, a former digital productions manager, for the London Symphony Orchestra, organized an individual member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) to come into our classroom, via elluminate, to teach us about their instruments. They play short pieces, demonstrate the key elements or physics of the instruments, and answer questions from the students.  The MSO instrumentalists are with Ajax in a radio studio (3MBS) in Melbourne which is a 3 1/2 drive from Melbourne and then proceed to record short music clips which are uploaded onto the shared Ping class music blog. My 28 year 7 students (all in the one class) then grab and download the clips that they would like to use, add them to audacity and make up their own musical stories, which in turn are uploaded back onto the Ping blog. Year 7 students took a few weeks to adapt cf with my year 9/10 students who immediately ‘took’ to it. Now, the chat is worked to the hilt, so rather than asking me verbal questions, when issues arise, the put it into the chat. See a movie on our experiences mid-way through the project.

I have found this to be an extremely effective means of teaching.

  • students are in their own ‘space’, feel important and have a chance to be ‘heard’ as cannot be achieved in the normal classroom. (Initially we were asked to have the students watch the virtual lesson on one screen, then return to their individual desktops or netbooks to complete the practical application. However, I perservered with the individual stations and that is definitely the way to go.)
  • students are able to interact in real time with the lesson and they are no longer passive listeners. They use chat, emoticons, etc and offer feedback to the musicians as they are playing. (This must be wonderful for the musicians as usually people simply clap at the end of the performance with no real indiction as to what they enjoyed or did not enjoy). We have had to set up a code of conduct for the chat , after a number of issues.
  • students can ask questions at any stage and these questions will be answered.
  • they immediately tell you if they do not understand (something I do not get so readily from each classmember in a normal classroom) I feel this is one of an online classroom’s biggest advantages. Students have the chance and feel comfortable with expressing their opinions and needs.
  • can invite global participants in, or other interested parties, so that they too can witness the class in action eg sponsors, benefactors, software developers, policy makers etc.

As such, I am using elluminate more and more with all types of classes. For revision with my year 12 students as their exams loom. This is mainly in the evenings. To be able to teach two subjects at once (year 11 and 12 accounting) and still try and give each group special and meaningful tuition) We have recently demonstrated the use of elluminate and Ping to our Minister for Education who was also in Melbourne. It has been successfully used for me to teach my students from home when I was sick, close to their exam time.

Learning about the trombone
Learning about the trombone

Hints for successful use of elluminate in intitial phases (with students)

  • remove all private messaging priveleges and possibly whiteboard tools
  • go through the code of conduct with chat
  • disable chat if they misbehave
  • for serious issues, place offenders in timeout room, this soon brings them all into behaving
  • ALWAYS, always just have a couple of initial lessons to let them play with all the tools  ie whiteboard etc before you start in earnest. Students love to fiddle and that whiteboard will be crazy.
  • be extremely organised with lots of imagery, use ppt slides etc as there needs to be a lot happening to keep students
     engaged.
  • get students to put together some ppt slides and talk to them
  • ensure the school’s firewall does not prevent the use of elluminate, and that java can be enabled.
  • Use polls, take snapshots etc.
  • Allow student use of microphone when confident
  • Learn how to test the audio and mic options as these sometimes need to be tweaked.
  • Use video camera option if necessary.

Where I will go from here

  • increase my usage of elluminate
  • seek out guest expert speakers who might come into my classroom remotely. eg authors, accountants, museum officials etc.
  • spend time putting together lessons in MS Powerpoint etc
  • get the students to run some classes
  • work globally in such a classroom
  • keep trying to get aspects of elluminate working at school eg the webtour will not work due to filter restrictions.

Note that the DEEC (Education Dept) has purchased a license with elluminate that I can use at the moment so there is no cost. I also use DiscoverE virtual classroom software.