Paul Desmarais EdTech 522: Online Teaching for Adult Learners

Elluminate Reflections

Group 1: Kim Bauman & Paul Desmarais

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For the week 3 exploration of Elluminate, I paired with Kim Bauman in an Elluminate moderated chat. This is a tool I have used a few times before, in an on line Moodle Administrator course I'm taking through Remote Learner. In the past, however, I have always been a student, watching and listening. It was better to be a more active participant.

Kim did a lot of the heavy lifting. She got the session started, and I was able to join the in progress session pretty easily, once I remembered my LearnCentral password. I did have a few moments of panic when I tried to log in repeatedly and kept getting denied. I did a restart and was able to log in after... go figure. Technology is great, except when it isn't...

Once we got going, the session went very well. We had a free flowing discussion about learning tools. I shared some of my favorites by sharing my desktop with Kim. I use a slide show alternative to Quicktime or Powerpoint. I also showed Kim a demonstration of VoiceThreads, the learning tool I wrote about in my web log. With just the two of us in the session, we decided to allow for both of us to talk at the same time, which was something I had not tried before. I think with a larger group, a push to talk scenario would be fine, but for us, the more natural, always on mode worked. We both had engagements that put time pressure on our sessions, but ended up staying on line talking about Elluminate, and other learning tools, for nearly two hours.

The immediacy of synchronous on line discussion, along with the whiteboard tool, and desktop sharing, make Elluminate a powerful, but relatively easy to use software package. I know it is pretty expensive to buy commercially, but for training teachers it has enormous potential. In my Moodle class, there are a dozen students from all over the country, from California to Maine, the shared experience of being "in class" while being so far flung builds an almost immediate comeraderie.The chat feature is a nice one, so you can actually actively communicate in two different ways in the same classroom. Students can send private chats to one another, and they can post chats to the public chat room, for the instructor to respond to. On a university campus, professors needing help setting up web logs or wikis could easily get a schedule of lessons, say one a day for two weeks, and join the one best suited to their busy schedule, and come back as needed until they felt the were confident using the tool.

I have to say, the smiley face and confused face emoticons made me feel a little silly. The idea of having a little fake hand to raise felt hokey as well; though the features themselves are obviously worthwhile. Still, this tool shows great range. It worked really well for a two person on line, live discussion, but it can easily accommodate a large group, and since these sessions are recordable, a live, synchronous session could just as easily become an archived piece of instruction available to anyone to access at another time, either because they were unable to attend, or for reinforcement of a lesson.

Lessons with Elluminate take on a much more personal feel than recorded tutorials, though in reality, the medium is not so much different. The interactivity is what makes this tool so interesting. I can definitely see myself using it in the future.