Tag Archives: students in elluminate

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

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!

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
  • 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.

Fine tuning in Ping- a Virtual Classroom


Concentration in a virtual classroom

Concentration in a virtual classroom

After the third session students are used to the routine, getting more comfortable with the software and the new environment for learning. They logged on a lot more quickly – all were on within 10 mins compared with  25 mins in the first session. Technical issues are getting less and students have worked out how to solve them independently.

Students actually worked the chat well. Feedback on what they are hearing is coming in naturally now.  They are now using the chat in elluminate to say they have problems cf with our first chaotic class when everyone seemed to be calling for help at once with their technical problems. This really is  becoming a virtual classroom.

The photos of the percussion instruments with  captions on the white board was good and added extra interest for the students.

They love lots of action, so photos and things happening on the whiteboard as well, work at engaging them fully. Ajax demonstrated great sound control from Melbourne when the percussion instruments were being demonstrated.

It seems to work well to have just one session on elluminate and the other with Joseph in our classroom and Ajax and the musician still on standby in elluminate. We are flat out in the classroom though, with 27 students.

The practical session

The students were efficient at putting their tracks together this time. Joseph placed the required outcome on the whiteboard and that worked well. Students knew what they had to.

Task Activity Instructions

  • Project duration is 1 minute
  • Their musical story must have 4 different tracks of music



-bass clarinet

-clarinet sounds

  • Convert to mp3 file format
  • Upload onto the blog post
  • Write a brief description about the lesson, what you heard, learnt and what you tried to accomplish