Give ‘em a piece of the action!

The second of two related posts about using Application Share (App Share) in Elluminate sessions. The reason for this post is to cover some of the “nuts and bolts” and briefly touch on some of my personal strategies in using Application Share. These were not covered in detail during the Elluminate session “Share and Share Alike” or the related post.

If you have been in Elluminate sessions you have probably experienced Application Share. It is often used by presenters to show a website or application to participants and sometimes is used as the basis of an entire presentation. In my personal opinion using a WebTour is more effective for websites, however it is not possible to WebTour if you want to show a password protected site.

Many people use App Share very effectively to show sites or applications but this can be a bit “teacher centred” and occasionally can turn into something similar to “death by powerpoint”. It is also very easy to fall into the trap of using App Share to show participants a document you want them to read. My advice would be “don’t do it!” Every time you scroll the screen will be refreshed for all participants – it will take different lengths of time to refresh for each participant. Some will be impatient because they have finished what is visible, some will be frustrated because they are never able to read any of it before the next refresh. File Transfer is much more effective – participants can then read at their own pace. There are also alternatives if you must put up one copy for all to see. Either take the time to pre-prepare by using the editable text tool on the whiteboard to create a series of whiteboard sized “chunks” to be displayed successively, or take App Share “snapshots” and place on whiteboards. This last can also be useful to substitute for direct sharing if you have participants with slow updating.

I use App Share myself occasionaly for a very quick, “off the cuff” show and tell. However I use it mostly to share applications interactively ie to enable participants to work with the content directly on my desktop by giving individuals control of my desktop. Secondarily I use it to troubleshoot problems for remote students by requesting control of their desktop.

There are several alternatives for sharing your desktop in Elluminate. It is possible to share your entire desktop. This is something I do extremely rarely as there are some risks in relation to privacy. You can also share specific applications – the app you plan to share must be open before you begin the share. Also if you have two screens make sure that it is “seen” by Elluminate. The sharing that I use most frequently is to share a region of my desktop. This is a personal preference and I find it easier all round as I can set aside a piece of screen and just move applications or anything else I want to share into that space.

Sharing a region is fairly straightforward.


Once you reach the “Host Applications” menu …


My favourite aspect of App Share is the potential for giving someone else control of what I am sharing. This is closely followed by the fact that a participant can give me control of their desktop so that I can demonstrate something directly on their computer or troubleshoot a problem for them. There are several reasons why I really like using these options including the following:

  • I like to keep sessions as interactive as possible – it is all too easy for people to “switch” off in a virtual room & I don’t see their body language to tell me they are bored.
  • Giving control to a specific individual enables me to ensure “taking turns” this is often an issue for me in face-to-face situations because many of my students are Youth at Risk and they often lack social interaction skills and will “talk over” their peers or teacher.
  • If I give control to an individual this enables me to see that they are able to use specific tools in an application – in my context where assessment is often observational and/or evidence based it gives greater validity.

Giving control of shared applications is very simple:

  • Highlight name of the participant to whom you wish to give control
  • Go to “Tools” and select “Application Sharing”
  • Select “Give Control of Shared Application”
  • You will then get a message indicating that you are giving control, “OK” this
  • The shared area will now have a pink border
  • Keep your hands away from the mouse – otherwise you will be fighting for control of the shared region
  • To regain control use “Ctrl+Space”

It’s a good idea to leave your microphone on throughout (unless you have someone else needing to speak). Although you can control the mic with Ctrl+F2 this may “jump” Elluminate to the front so that it covers the shared region – this occasionally happens to me even when I have resized my Elluminate screen to avoid covering the shared region.

I feel it is really important that students have the opportunity to practise remote control of my desktop and that this is done in a friendly and supportive group context. For the initial tryout and practise I use icebreaker type games, at first with a simple task untimed. As the participants become more confident and competent at dealing with the inevitable lag in response when working remotely I sometimes time them in completing the task. However the great thing with Elluminate is that if someone is really struggling we can always blame the technology and thus avoid damage to self esteem.

There are too many interactive App Share type activities/strategies to cover in detail here – some of those I have used successfully include:

  • Icebreaker and team-building activities for developing positive group dynamics
  • Students work in pairs/small groups in breakout rooms (you don’t need to be the moderator in order to share your desktop), completing collaborative tasks on one person’s desktop or peer tutoring
  • A moderator moving with a student into a breakout room and using sharing for troubleshooting, individual support or assessment
  • Learning and practising an App by taking turns to use a tool/achieve an effect with support and feedback from the rest of the group
  • Coaching an individual through a new task/activity while the rest of the group watches as a demo, or having another participant coach someone through a task/activity.

These are just a few of the possibilities for interactivity with App Share in an Elluminate room. As usual I have written far too much, so it’s definitely time to stop. Hope you have fun giving participants “a piece of the action”.