Just yesterday I was having a tough time thinking about how I can bring all this new information I have to my colleagues and was also trying to think about which “just one tool” I would narrow down to share with them. I thought about how much I enjoyed the collaboration with my classmates, professor, and guest speaker in our live online class and it got me thinking that this is where we need to head, as I mentioned in my earlier post today we use Blackboard/uLearn and so I set out on a mission to consider how we might integrate online conferencing into our work. It also made sense as a starting point because we will have an opportunity to participate in a virtual conference together this fall with colleagues from across Canada, so they will be able to see firsthand the benefits of such a great tool.
So since I was last here, I set off to find out if we might be able use a virtual classroom to conference with our students.
The Virtual Classroom is a Collaboration Tool that allows Instructors and Students to participate in real time lessons and discussions and also view archives of previous Collaboration sessions. The main area of the Virtual Classroom includes all of the functions available to users. From this area Instructors can manage the session through the system controls, interact with participants, and use the Whiteboard to post content, open Web pages, and draw. The Instructor has the ability to control access and functionality for other participants in the session.”
My goal was to come up with how we could implement using this new technology into our program and to consider how I might be able to get the ball rolling so that we can begin showcasing this technology in our program. I usually take a “just jump-in” approach with new learning about new technologies and have done so in this case too and hope that I can convince my colleagues that we should use this approach for online conferencing with our students – let’s jump in!
This morning I was already speaking about some very applicable uses for this technology in my post, so I needed to ensure that we can actually use online live conferencing and I set off to see what I could find. For there is not much reason for me to go further, if I get all excited about implementing a new technology and in my haste I engage my colleagues only to discover I have found a tool that we cannot access for some reason. Especially given that my primary approach to sell my colleagues on starting with this tool is about just how easy it is to use. The main objective to using this tool though is to add value to our students experience in our program.
I started looking at our intranet and went to the link on teaching services where I am very happy to report, I found that our faculty does support live online collaboration. There on the list of resources available to us, I found a link to Elluminate – Web Conferencing and upon further reading I discovered that we can use University’s virtual classroom application; the very same one that our Web 2.0 course just used. It can be used not only for class, but also if you need to hold a virtual meeting, online office hours or mini-conferences or information sessions, for our entire cooperative education student body to enable them to collaborate with each other and with us at the university, even if they are out on their work experience placements.
I also came across the information on our faculty’s online course management system, which I mentioned is Blackboard and see that it is described in more detail than I imagined.
The School of Business maintains an online course management system (cms) known as “uLearn” which is used for all School of Business courses. uLearn runs using Blackboard which is currently the most popular CMS worldwide. Blackboard offers a variety of online tools that enhance the learning experience for students including announcements, course calendar, discussion boards, online assignment submission, exams, communication and much more…”
My investigations have been going far better than I ever anticipated! The current tools that we have in our course module for potential use in uLearn are a calendar, announcements, tasks, view grades and an ability to send email. Since I believe my colleagues will adapt quickly to the benefits of using Elluminate I can briefly think about what we else is available within our uLearn cms so that when uses come up in conversation with my colleagues, I will be prepared to provide a list of potential, additional options. else is already readily available for our potential use. I found that our faculty’s online knowledge base has a separate link for uLearn/Blackboard.
I am beginning to rapidly notice that our office does not utilize uLearn to anywhere near its full potential and I have a fair idea that my colleagues, like I was, are not aware of the diverse Web 2.0 tools that we can bring right into our course modules, such as Wikis and Blogs. This simple find, is how I will be able to share all of my new knowledge with my colleagues! This, as my classmate Lori might say, is my eureka moment! I had no idea that there were any tools outside of those that show in our course, never mind the full list of potential tools that are supported by our faculty. We now have a have a well-rounded menu of available tools right at our fingertips and the technical support that comes with using them through the online course platform offered by our faculty. This course has shown me that there are endless ways to use Web 2.0 and now I am finding that some are way closer to home than I ever imagined!
WOW! Our online classroom platform has the potential to create an exceptional mashup and will keep me and my colleagues busy looking further into all the potential it offers. Before today I had no idea that we can add a wiki to our course, or that we have the ability to add a blog. These two finds alone are enough to start discussing with my colleagues how to really get the technology integrated into our courses. Eureka! We can start with live online conferencing, then wikis, then blogs, then…
- Spectrum Of Education Technologies1.1 (slideshare.net)
- Is Social Media a challenge for Higher Education?
- ICWL (International conference on web-based learning) call for participation
- Team Apart: Real-time, Browser-based Collaboration & Meetings (readwriteweb.com)
- Plp (slideshare.net)