Webinar overview – Feed Learning With a Hot Potato

Introduction

This session (recorded here)  was great fun! Despite loss of Internet at our end in the early stages. Our system (ie that of myself and Phil Hart) has been so reliable for the last couple of years that I had become a bit complacent and was out of the habit of automatically giving someone else Moderator status in case of problems.  Suffice it to say that our connection came back up just as Phil was starting our backup satellite link. We returned to the session where everyone, with great confidence in our imminent return, had continued chatting. I instantly gave Moderator status to another participant. As a result of this I will make a big effort to revert back to my former practice of giving  someone else Moderator status in each session. In the early days of these sessions I tried to rotate the extra moderator around fairly regular participants. I think that doing this is very good practice anyway as it gives people a gentle introduction to the role and an opportunity to see the extra tools that are available to Moderators.

Overview of the webinar

Hot Potatoes (download from here) is a free easy to use application for developing simple interactives. These can be saved in one or more of several different ways including SCORM compliant and webpage formats. It is one of several free applications that I use regularly to create activities that I can upload into our Learning Management System (LMS).

I followed my usual practice at the start of trying to get a “feel” for where everyone was “coming from” on Hot Potatoes. On this occasion it seemed that most people were relatively unfamiliar with it. I also made a brief comparison with two other freely available applications that I also use: ARED (downloadable from here ) developed several years ago with Australian Flexible Learning Framework funding; and eXe (available here) developed collaboratively in New Zealand.

We had a very brief look at the types of activity that can be created.

HotPotOptions

Then we moved on via a Web Tour to our (mine and Phil’s) Moodle playground where we had uploaded some activities (taken from those I use with my literacy and study skills students). This gave everyone the opportunity to try out a few activities from the student perspective by logging in as “Guest” and accessing them through “Hot Potatoes 101”.

Crosswordeg

Having seen some activities from the student perspective we moved on to make an activity. The consensus was to collaboratively produce a quiz. For this I used Application Share – shared part of my desktop, started the JQuiz Hot Potatoes quizmaker and gave volunteers control of the application to write a question each.

Conclusion

As we reached the end of the session there was lively discussion in text about the features of Hot Potatoes; the potential for use in different ways including giving students opportunities to create activities themselves and a brief consideration of whether the application does anything you can’t do with pencil and paper. This has given me food for further thought and has generated a discussion topic to form the basis for our next Fine Focus session in 2 weeks time.

Despite the messy start due to the Internet glitch the feedback was positive and I was reminded yet again how much people like the opportunity to try things out in the session. This, as always, reinforces my desire to keep “improving my act” and thinking of more ways to include interactivity in webinars.

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday April 15th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday April 16th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

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Virtual hijacking?

We had an interesting issue before we started the most recent Edublogs webinar “Teach to the Test?” in that we were “hijacked” by at least two and more likely three or more quite disruptive children (or at least they purported to be, and sounded like, children). One gave “her” age as “seven” and another gave hers as “ten”, at least one of them seemed to be using an alias and also logged in at one point as “KILLLER”. Luckily we identified and dealt with this largely before the session started and were also ready for any additional invasions during the session.

This sort of occurrence gives food for thought and raises some questions. For me my main thought was about how several children had got the link on this occasion when this has not happened in any of our sessions before. The link is posted in a variety of places (three events calendars) and is also Tweeted out (and often retweeted) several times just prior to the session. So perhaps it is surprising that this has not happened before rather than surprising that it happened at all. The voices were very “young sounding” and in my opinion the accents were North American. I have a concern that these quite young children apparently had sufficient access to enable them to join a live adult session with no supervision and that this could pose a risk to them in the future.

Would you recognise/identify non-appropriate participants? How would you deal with them and with behaviour that disrupted the session? It was something I was already very well aware of as a possiblity because some of my students are “Youth at Risk” and may have behavioural issues that manifest in face-to-face situations. So I had already thought of some strategies for identifying and managing potential problems of this type when thinking of transferring some of these students to an online context.

Thankfully Elluminate has some features that make it a bit easier to deal with issues of this kind (look out for a post on this soon). Moderator control over access to tools is very useful and as a moderator it is also possible to remove someone from a session, although unless you block access to all new participants you can’t stop them joining again. Blocking access to all is not an option for me because we have people joining throughout sessions. This might be something for Elluminate to consider – perhaps when someone at a particular IP address is removed then to not allow that IP address to rejoin for 2-3 hours.

Identifying that these participants were not really appropriate was probably relatively easy in this case because two of them were in the room very early and were talking at times. Also one had started video with the camera pointing at their body rather than their head. On hearing the voices I was alerted as they sounded very young. I removed video access and then spoke to them but did not get a proper response. They then started to draw on the whiteboard, my instant response was to remove their access to whiteboard tools and to say this was because we were loading the presentation. I had no wish to offend legitimate participants who were just experimenting because I am happy for people to do this. The immediate response was variations (in audio and text) around a theme of asking/demanding to be allowed to draw with one very rude response to the effect that “you must die!” (if you don’t let me draw). I then removed audio permission. At this point we were joined by Shelly Terrell who has Elluminate experience. I told her of the situation – we agreed that the children should be removed. I did this and then gave Shelly moderator status to help me deal with any further issues. She provided fantastic support for the rest of the session, when we again had these or other children joining.

As a further strategy for monitoring and identifying any children I was then a liittle more pro-active than usual in encouraging participants to tell us about themselves and what they did either in text or by audio.

We had one apparent child who remained quiet and to whom we gave the benefit of the doubt – ie we didn’t remove her because she was causing no issues. She chose to leave on the basis that the session was for “grown ups” and a bit weird so she would like to find one for “kids”.

This in itself raises another issue – should we be doing sessions that are aimed at including very young students, but in a planned way? I have run sessions where I moderate (from elsewhere) physical rooms of people who are all in Elluminate with only one microphone available to each room through a “room moderator” but where everyone has access to text chat, whiteboard, polling etc. Alternatively I have used Elluminate in group sessions where no-one has microphone because we are all in the same room but where we use the Elluminate features. I find these strategies are great ways to get whole group participation in a large session. In my opinion they would be an excellent way to introduce children to virtual classrooms, and if anyone would like to give it a go I am happy to be your distant moderator (if we can do it when my timezone is awake!)

Please comment as I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on any aspect of this post.

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.

AppShareHowTo1

Once you reach the “Host Applications” menu …

AppShareHowTo2

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”.

Did you know? Elluminate – Break out of the mould!

This post was prompted by the fact that if I had tried to put all of the “how to” of Breakout Rooms into the “Breakout with Elluminate” post  it would have been too long for anyone to read.

Breakout rooms are probably one of the Elluminate tools I have used least along with playing multimedia. This is mainly because in my work context in rural Western Australia we have students online from home with low bandwidth and often fairly old computers. In this setting both of these tools can be a bit problematic. However despite occasional issues I continue to use breakout rooms but I do think and plan carefully before I use them. I try to minimise the number I use at any one time and to have contingency plans in case participants have problems.

Breakout rooms bring an extra dimension to your Elluminate sessions by enabling several different activities to occur at the same time by providing extra “mini-rooms” within your virtual room. This lets you work in the virtual room in much the same way as you would in a real room, with one extra advantage – if you have people working in groups they can’t eavesdrop on each other either intentionally or inadvertently. Breakout rooms have: independent audio; whiteboard; text capacity within the breakout room; text capacity to all; hand-up capacity to ask for help; transferrability of whiteboard to/from main room, and the potential to Application Share just within the Breakout Room.

I have used breakout rooms for a wide range of activities including the following:

  • Individuals or groups planning presentations
  • Individuals or groups brainstorming ideas
  • Individuals working on the same activity eg wordsearch, drag and drop, or the same brainstorm, all coming back to the main room to compare outcomes
  • Individuals or groups rotating through breakout rooms with different activities and each making their contribution to the activity in the room
  • Individuals or groups Internet researching and reporting back
  • Peer tutoring
  • Individual feedback
  • Individual assessment (breakout rooms combined with application share and desktop control is a whole post in itself)

In addition I have found a breakout room very useful if one member of a group is having issues with audio or other Elluminate problems I can move myself and that person to a breakout room and help them troubleshoot without disrupting the session.

As the moderator you are in control (hopefully!). You create and name rooms and manage how they are accessed and used by participants.

CreateBreakout

The process of creating the rooms and accessing them is very straightforward:

  1. Go to the Tools menu.
  2. Mouse over Breakout Rooms.
  3. Click Create Breakout Room – at this point you will be asked for a name for the room. Short names are easiest but not essential. I usually try to use something that relates to the question or activity in the room.
  4. In the current version of Elluminate there is an option to give participants control over their own movement to Breakout Rooms. This has enabled much more rapid distribution of participants. In previous versions there was only “Distribute Participants” this was a bit slow as it was necessary to select each person individual and go through a couple of steps to move them to their room.
  5. Also in this version it is much easier for the moderator to move between rooms using “Send self to Breakout Room” again in previous versions this was done using Distribute Participants and was consequently quite slow.

One of the most useful aspects of the way Breakout Rooms work is the ease of transfer of pre-prepared whiteboards or outcomes of activities to and from the main room. This is done using Explore Screens which is accessed through: Tools, Whiteboard, Explore Screens.

CopyScr1

Once you are in explore screens you can access all screens in the same way as you access file structures (using the “+” to move to the next heirarchical level). You see thumbnails of the screens which is very useful if you don’t have screen titles.

CopyScr2

Once you can see the screens it is easy to select the screen or screens that you want to move. If you want to copy the entire group of screens you can select them using Select all screen peers. You can use simple copy and paste but there  is an option to copy directly to Breakout Rooms which makes the process much quicker. To copy from Breakout Rooms to the Main Room you just use the Copy and Paste on the menu – remembering to move to the point you want to copy to before pasting.

I find that when I am going to use Breakout Rooms it helps to plan thoroughly:

  • allow time to explain how the rooms work & that you will be “visiting”;
  • have a Main Room screen with the steps/activities;
  • pre-prepare and place screens for the rooms;
  • have copies of the room screens on the main room whiteboard;
  • be very clear in my mind on how I am going to allocate groups to rooms;
  • use the timer and bring everyone back to the main room promptly;
  • have a contingency plan in case you don’t have enough participants for your activities and/or some of the group have bandwidth issues.

Hope you have a great time when you “Break out of the mould”

Breakout with Elluminate!

Our recent Edublogs webinar, (watch the recording for the whole session) 3rd or 4th of December depending on your timezone, was another in the occasional series about some of the features of Elluminate. As you probably all know by now I love Elluminate and am always happy to show how powerful it can be as a teaching and learning tool.

A few weeks ago one of the possible topics that was suggested for our webinars was “more on Elluminate”, someone else had also mentioned that they would like to know about breakout rooms. This made for a simple choice of topic and one to make me think! Using breakout rooms when you have no idea how many participants, or what level of Elluminate experience they will have, can be quite challenging. For me it’s also important that these sessions are interactive for the participants – I very much dislike sessions which are “death by powerpoint” transformed into Elluminate. That approach seems to me to waste the potential of Elluminate and to perhaps be better served by just making a ‘cast of the slides with voice over and not using Elluminate at all.

We were a little late getting underway – being a very small group – we hoped others might join. However the conference season is in full swing so we remained a small and select band. I started the recording – I almost forgot and was reminded (many thanks!) by someone in the group. We began with a quick poll on usage of breakout rooms. This was followed by a  rundown of the features of breakout rooms and the moderator’s role in managing them.

BreakoutRooms

Then before everyone could fall asleep we moved on to trying out breakout rooms. I had pre-created two rooms each with a whiteboard question about possible uses for breakout rooms. See “Did you know? Elluminate – Breakout of the mould!” for more detail on the how, when and why of breakout rooms. The current version of Elluminate allows the moderator to give participants access to move themselves to rooms, so after inviting participants to put their virtual hands up I asked them to move to a room based on the order hands were up. They had ten minutes to brainstorm ideas in response the their question. A busy ten minutes for me – “flitting” between the rooms to check that they were all OK with the features. At the end of the brainstorming time I “beamed” everyone back to the main room.

Oh dear! All that lovely brainstorming was on the whiteboards in the breakout rooms. Never fear Elluminate had the answer. We copied and pasted the complete whiteboards into the main room while application sharing so everyone could see how it was done. There were a variety of great ideas about the uses and contexts in which breakout rooms might be used. The next step was the anarchy phase – give everyone moderator rights so they could create their own breakout room and try a task and a copy of their whiteboard to the main room. As always this produced a few glitches but it’s always fun when everyone goes “feral” and “plays” without always realising how much power they have as a moderator. We ran short of time so didn’t get this activity finished – something that often happens when everyone is moderator.

For more detail on the “how to” of  Breakout Rooms see the related post “Did you know? Elluminate – Break out of the mould!

Feedback was very postitive – people always seem to greatly enjoy the interactivity and the opportunity to try things out. So there will definitely be more on Elluminate interactivity options in the future. Join us in the Elluminate room next week 10th/11th for a Serendipity unconference session and for our last session before the Xmas break on the 17th/18th December depending on your timezone. See the Edublogs calendar for information about the last session – our Elluminate end of year party, where we invite you to get interactive with party games! We’ll be back “virtually” after the break on 7th/8th of January 2010.

Elluminate – missing tools?

An occasional issue that I have found arising with Elluminate is when one of the tools or modules doesn’t work properly. If this happens you may find that emptying the Java cache solves the problem. This is also a potential solution to any situation where Elluminate seems to be “behaving” oddly. I have found it to be a good initial troubleshooting activity when students encounter any problems as it is quick and easy to accomplish.

To empty the Java cache (from a windows operating system), close Elluminate if you are currently in a session.
i) Go to Control Panel (switch to classic view)
ii) Find Java and open the Java control Panel
iii) Select the General Tab
iv) Ensure that the space for temporary file storage is set to 1000 MB
v) In “Temporary Internet Files” select Settings
vi) In “Temporary Files Settings” click on Delete Files
vii) Ensure that:
Applications and Applets
Trace and Log Files
are both ticked
viii) Click OK

ix) Close down and then restart the computer – it may take some time to reload all the Java files when you restart and re-enter Elluminate.

Elluminating ideas for interactivity on the whiteboard! Drag and Drop!

With students new to Elluminate I always go for a softly softly approach and try not to introduce too many new tools or strategies at once. This also sometimes applies to colleagues especially the e-phobic! If I’m working with e-philic colleagues we can have a great time looking at a whole range of different ways to use tools and keep students interacting. However I’m trying to avoid blog posts that exceed War and Peace in length! So I’ve decided to break all this whiteboard “stuff” down into smaller chunks.

I hope that Kipper and Flipper will help me make these posts memorable!

One of my favourite, and very simple activities on the whiteboard is using Drag and Drop. Here is one that I use in taster or orientation sessions for students.

OK so how do I set them up? There are many different options – these are my personal preferences and what works well for me!

Firstly I usually use PowerPoint (ppt) for my slides in virtual classes/presentations/workshops. There are a number of reasons for this:

a) have been using ppt for years so I’m very familiar with it and find it easy to use;
b) very easy to upload into Elluminate as a complete presentation rather than slide by slide;
c) have a portable, easily edited “down here” version ie not “locked in” to the need to able to open the Elluminate whiteboard file format.

1) I pre-prepare, starting with anything I want in the background in PowerPoint – for drag and drop this is the text or images that I want to be fixed (ie not “draggable” by the learners).

2) Duplicate the ppt slide and add the answers so I have an answers slide to show students after they have finished. This is a good way of making sure that I don’t miss any out from the “draggables”. Also very useful if I have a “kitten moment” at the going through the answers stage and get two of them muddled.

3) Upload the ppt into Elluminate – see below

4) Go to the slide that needs the “draggables”. Use the simple text tool “A” to type your labels or add your images (if these are the “draggables”) using the add image tool (see below).

5) Tidy up the positions of your “draggables.

6) Once you are happy with the activity, save the entire presentation as a .wbd file.

7) I often create the entire drag and drop separately from the presentation it is to be embedded within. This makes it easier to add to my “resource bank” for future use with a different group or in a different place in the session.

8)It is easy to insert pre-prepared whiteboards at any point in an uploaded presentation – just create a new whiteboard (tool next to the upload presentation one) and then replace it with your pre-prepared material.

Have fun!

Lighting up my students’ online lives with interactive Elluminate

Its a long time since I wrote a post so after Free Online PD on Friday (09:00 Western Australian time – GMT +8) where I did a session on Elluminate interactivity in the Edublogs/Elluminate community partnership virtual room I thought I really should continue my posts about using Elluminate. Last year when I was providing cross-college PD in e-learning (including Elluminate) I started a series of cartoons made with ToonDoo introducing some of the facets of working in virtual classrooms. I used a couple of these in Fridays session and thought maybe it would be fun to put some of them in posts when I’m writing about Elluminate and some of the tools and strategies that I find useful.


Most of my cartoons are two ToonDoo cartoons joined together like the one above on the social dimension in online learning.

For me – in my context – ie working with students who are often geographically isolated that social dimension is critical – both in Elluminate and in the Learning Management System that we use (currently CE6). On Friday in Online PD I tried to give all those in the session a feel for some of the strategies and Elluminate tools that I use to keep that social dimension in the forefront throughout my virtual classes.

I use a lot of game type activities – one of the simplest that is really good to help students get familiar with tools and also get some practice with them is a version of “Simon Says”. I think this has different names in different countries – so here is a short “toonscription”

Another advantage of this game is it gives you (as moderator) an opportunity to see if any students are particularly slow with the tools and to assess whether they might need extra help or are suffering from bandwidth/connection problems.

If you don’t normally have access to Elluminate and would like to try it out or use it for small meetings you can use this link to get your own free 3-user Elluminate v-Room! you are also very welcome at the Free Online PD sessions that happen through Elluminate each week Friday (09:00 Western Australian time – GMT +8). Read the Edublogger post from Sue Waters for more information.

This Friday (3rd April) we are following on from last week’s how to keep Elluminate sessions interactive by suggesting that participants try out something interactive they might use with their students. This should be an “elluminating” session! If you are coming along and plan to try something and there is anything you need clarifying beforehand then you are welcome to Tweet me @JoHart or ask your question in a comment to this post.

School of the future?

In online PD on Friday (all welcome each Friday West Australian time 09:00 – Elluminate link) one of the potential topics was “what will the school of the future look like”. Someone instantly added “cloud computing” as part of the same question. This was a term I had heard but knew nothing about. Our topic for the day is chosen on a vote for the suggestions and this was not the one selected – we discussed “managing our information overloads” through a great demonstration by Sue Waters. However afterwards I felt I needed find out a bit about “cloud computing” so did a bit of exploring. I still don’t know much but I found that there were many cross links with my recent thoughts as a TAFE (Vocational Education and Training) Lecturer at a college with many distance/flexible and school based (on vocational courses) learners. I have been working cross-college to encourage lecturers to use online/e-learning. In our context the focus is on supporting, and delivering learning to, students who are unable (for whatever reason) to attend face-to-face, This has given me much food for thought regarding the wide variety of configurations and application in students’ home computers and the complexities of working with these in an online context – especially when demonstrating something in the virtual classroom when students don’t all hve the application you are demonstrating.

Through my Twitter stream I have contact with teachers in schools and universities in Western Australia (WA), the wider Australian context and also worldwide (particularly Canada and the USA). A major concept that keeps surfacing in my mind as a result of these interactions is a likely shape for learning in the future. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before schools, colleges and universities worldwide are aiming for the majority of their students to be working online from home for one or more days per week. The advantages of this are huge in infrastructure terms for educational institutions and also potentially in environmental terms for the planet. If we build our infrastrucutre and provide applications virtually “up in the clouds”

this may be one option for providing necessary applications for learners who don’t have them on computers at home. However I think that one of the major barriers to the “virtual campus” – for schools at least – will be the huge outcry from parents who will suddenly become responsible for their school age children for at least one extra day per week. This itself may have economic implications.

I live and work in a regional context – on a personal basis I can see no reason for driving 45 minutes each way to work to do all the admin and class preparation tasks I can do perfectly well from home. Who needs to go to work?

Indeed many of these tasks I can do better or more easily from home as I do not have to contend with surrounding noise and interruptions from my colleagues in our large open office. Additionally I have better ie faster Internet access from home and do not have to waste time frequently contacting the IT department to unblock sites so that I can access them for learning resources. Because, as a college, we use virtual classroom delivery for our scattered students it is also feasible for me to deliver classes from home and I frequently do so as I have fewer connection issues from home.

Virtual Classroom thoughts – part one what do I use?

Hmm! Wonder if I could get hooked on this blogging thing? I’m not much of a written reflector – these things usually happen in my head (often when driving to/from work) and not on the computer/piece of paper. So I thought maybe I would write about using virtual classrooms – as my role involves me in using vc as a lecturer and also in teaching and facilitating colleagues in using vc. However I have so much to say about these that it seems like a good move to write a series of posts. So – for those of you old enough to remember TinTin and Snowy you can look forward to the next thrilling instalment of Jo’s adventures with virtual classrooms at regular (sort of!) intervals!

Elluminate participant screenAnyway – just a bit about the VC I mostly use. This is Elluminate – it’s the one I use because here in Western Australia the Dept of Training makes it available for TAFE and as we are effectively paying for it, it makes sense to use it.

However for me there are also other reasons why I like Elluminate:

1) You can go in to a support linkand subsequently a configuration room and set up your system and also see what your screen will look like when you are logged in to a session (I just – today – tried to do the same with Adobe Connect and couldn’t find similar. It also told me I only had modem speed – I’m on broadband – but didn’t tell me whether that meant I couldn’t join a session)

2) I have accessed Elluminate help/support several times taking a ticket after accessing the self-help portal – mainly for student issues as every student has a different system configuration, and may have any connection (eg broadband, dialup, satellite, internal network). Elluminate support have always been extremely helpful and very professional – also they often can supply an answer overnight due to time zone differences

3) I am personally comfortable with the way it works – in common with all applications/tools there are things which irritate me but on the whole I am happy with far more than I am unhappy with.

Next post about Elluminate will look at some of the tools and the ways of using them that seem to work for me!!