Back to Basics with Virtual Classrooms
Yep – One of my famous quotes was “Elluminate is the easiest application to use and why does any one need professional development with using it?” Well after using Elluminate for more than 12 months, I take back that statement. PD is very important because there is a big difference between being able to use a virtual classroom and using it effectively for online facilitation. That’s why I am grabbing opportunities to improve my skills in this area because I know that I could be doing it much better (image from chefranden).
This is why I have joined the Classroom Online network, I attend 2007 E-learning Community network events and invite myself, when available, to attend online AMES Learnscope sessions.
Leveraging the Virtual Classroom
Today I dragged myself out of bed before 7am (day 2 of holiday) so that I could join Ruth Clark’s online presentation on Virtual Classrooms. What a fantastic presentation! The information she went through would apply for f2f or online facilitation in a virtual classroom. I am definitely hanging out for the recording so that I can re-watch it again (I was writing notes so quickly that I could not keep up – and now can’t read what I wrote). I was so impressed I also tried to purchase her book “The New Virtual Classroom” but had trouble paying (hoping she will let me know how to do).
What I really loved about Ruth’s session was she went through and explained the principles of effective facilitation, and modeled it at the same time.
Using a Virtual Classroom to teach technology (e.g. Hands on Photostory workshop)
Not to be lazy I then snuck into Phillip’s Learnscope session which he facilitated using Elluminate. This week he was teaching them Digital stories and how to use Photostory. Before the session each participant is required to work through the pre-reading and print off the handout for the session.
I am really grateful to Philip for letting me join these online sessions because using a virtual classroom to facilitate learning technology skills is to me going to another level entirely.
Unfortunately majority of participants headsets initially would not work properly (no sound or microphones). Very frustrating to a facilitator when they are 5 hrs away. Very unlucky – not sure why they are having the problem (hopefully their IT person will advise) – need to make sure they plug in prior to starting Elluminate. If use Elluminate a lot worth purchasing Logitech USB headset ($50) as less likely to have problems (provided computers have right version of Java).
This time when he got each participant to try using Photostory (by themselves) he sent to their own break out room (this was an idea we discussed trying) and then got them to turn on application sharing. This meant that we could both move separately between the rooms and check how each was going. It was incredible that were able to run application sharing in 5 break out rooms. The hardest part was actually explaining how to turn on application sharing. Definitely need two moderators to go between rooms helping with learning technology if you do it this way. We were also challenged by the fact that a few could not get their microphones to work, which made them feel isolated.
As it was hard to physically see how they are going learning technology this way it would be really good to video it, so we could reflect on how they cope compared to f2f. Other ideas were to have an explanation on the main whiteboard and on the whiteboard in their room stating where he wants them to work through to, and letting them know that they can write a message on the direct messaging board or put their hand up if they need help. Perhaps would also need to write these same instructions in the direct messaging area because once they started application sharing they will loose the instructions.
Thanks Phillip for letting me attend yet again :). Hope you enjoyed my write up?
One thought on “Back to Basics with Virtual Classrooms”
Thanks Sue – well written again – thaks for the help – it is also really useful having 2 moderators so that one can watch the IM cos I found my eyes never wandered down there; there was so much else to think about; also very time saving that the 2nd moderator (you) typed in the questions I was asking for those whose headsets hadn’t been adjusted yet.
BTW, I only need to say “Realtek soundcards” and you’ll know what is wrong with their audio.
PS I had put up my own thoughts on my blog (http://amesls.blogspot.com); once again thanks for the hand.