Tag Archives: elluminate in the classroom

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

Teaching and Learning without a Classroom – Tech Talk Tuesdays

This was the topic for Tech Talk Tuesday with Andrew Douch as our presnter.  Andrew is an innovative and multi award winning teacher. His awards include Microsoft Innovative Teacher of the World 2009 and he is the creator of the popular Douchy’s Biology podcasts on iTunes.  To the delight of the participants and the adding a rich element to the chat and presentation, two of his virtual students also participated in this session.
The chat was even busier than usual. Here is the link to the recording.

Andrew teased us with thought provoking questions such as:-

  1. There is so much online material that students can use, how do they know that it is valid?  Isn’t it better that it is teacher produced and directed?
  2. What do schools do best compared with the online environment?
    Students can opt to learn when they like, where they feel comfortable – not necessarily at linear desks and often on uncomfortable seats! and how they like to learn – with technology.

From the chat:-

From Douchy (samples of his work)

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej2hFc8u_zQ#t=8m14s
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p835L4HWH68#t=0m42s

From the students

  • I listen to the podcasts when I’m walking, in my private sessions at school and when i’m laying in bed before going to sleep mostly.
  • They are brilliant when revising for an exam!
  • That is the most beneficial thing about it. If you don’t understand it, you can watch it or listen again and again until you do understand.
  • @Anne, I definately spend more time on biology now. It is so much easier and you can access it any time of the day or night, so it is easier to become motivated to complete my biology work.
  • The only thing that is better at school than online is the face to face social interaction.
  • I get private study sessions at school instead of a biology class. I am required to remain at school, but i can study other classes and do homework.

From the adults

  • webinars and podcasts allow all of us to have access to the very best teachers!
  • Podcasts are invaluable for adult ed too – lets folks study when their ‘real life’ isn’t so demanding
  • we don’t all learn best at the same time of day
  • So if one teacher is more suited to online forums, they could have way more kids in their classes and then the work load is not even…Just thinking out loud here… 😉
  • A study in July’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine reports that giving teens 30 extra minutes in the morning before classes leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness and healthier breakfasts.” http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/07/08/start-school-later-improve-conduct-grades-and-even-save-lives/
  • looks like the trend is: education is free, assessment costs $
  • I love the idea they use in “unconferences” where they use the “2 foot rule” –if you don’t find a session helpful or valuable, use your 2 feet and go somewhere else. We should all do that.
  • Attendance at school School does provide our remote country students with a social network and a face to face element which they may miss out on a bit online (I know that they network online too, but f2f is also important)
  • Technology is only a tool, not a teacher.  We will always need teachers to support and guide kids in the whole kid instead of only the academic side
  • I love hearing Kevin Honeycutt talk about why he started offering “Artsnacks” courses on his Ning so students in rural communities could learn from an art teacher when they didn’t have access to one in their own school.
  • What about the Essential Learning Standards: Intra personal and communication skills?
  • one of the biggest reasons people give for not agreeing with homeschooling is because they think the students won’t get to socialize and learn important social skills
  • Tech may free teachers up to do more work with the kids in terms of developing social skills
    do you worry that the free online tools that allow this sort of egalitarian teaching might be closed down sometime (a-la ning)?
  • backchannel is a way to process the learning and remain engaged
  • while free online tools come and go there are almost always new tools to take their place
  • almost all of the online programs have a pro/paid version for additional features
  • I remember when I first learned about the internet that I couldn’t believe I could access all of that information for free! Now we expect it
  • Heaps of screen captures and editing tools here
  • love tech tuesdays–even though it’s still Monday for me 🙂
  • often online classes are offered for advanced placement classes or makeup classes in order to graduate
  • @Mary B I am wondering whether if kids log into Elluminate but they are not actually attending just logged in and doing other things, how would you know?
    response: @Mary B You dont. That is why it is important to make it interactive make them answer questions in chat, with mic,
  • make them answer polls, use the whiteboard etc
  • Re online labs vs f2f labs: Hmmm, but sometimes blowing stuff up for real is just so much more fun
  • Up to 500 participants have been recorded participating in a single elluminate session (with Steve Haragdon)
    There is so much food for thought here – what are your thoughts or comments on all this? Will there still be a need for physical schools? Can there be a blend of both environments? What role might they all take?