Having used elluminate
for 12 months for regular global staff meetings, online conferences and online professional development, it has only been this year, that I have used it with students and realised its potential application for being the way to go for 21st century education for middle to senior school students.
Various benefactor organizations, and the Victorian Education and Early Childhood Department
, Australia, have sponsored a 12 week program for bringing music to three or four remote, rural schools.
Ajax McKerrall, a former digital productions manager, for the London Symphony Orchestra, organized an individual member of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
(MSO) to come into our classroom, via elluminate, to teach us about their instruments. They play short pieces, demonstrate the key elements or physics of the instruments, and answer questions from the students. The MSO instrumentalists are with Ajax in a radio studio (3MBS) in Melbourne which is a 3 1/2 drive from Melbourne and then proceed to record short music clips
which are uploaded onto the shared Ping
My 28 students year 7 students, (all in the one class) then grab and download the clips that they would like to use, add them to audacity and make up their own musical stories, which in turn are uploaded back onto the Ping blog. I have found this to be an extremely effective means of teaching. It took a while for them to adjust to this environment cf my year 9/10 students who were straight into it, but after three weeks, you could have head a pin drop as students listened intently and worked the chat to the full. They eventually, place any technical issues into the chat so it all become online. See a mid- project reflective movie
on the project
Why is it effective?
- students have their own personal space and enjoy working in this, appears to be more personalized. (It was suggested that we all watch the one screen via and IWB or data projector and then go back to our desktops and netbooks to finish the practical side, but I perservered with individual computers and that approach is so superior)
-students are able to interact in real time with the lesson and they are no longer passive listeners. They use chat, emoticons, etc and offer feedback to the musicians as they are playing. (This must be wonderful for the musicians as usually people simply clap at the end of the performance with no real idea as to what they enjoyed or did not enjoy). (We have had to set up a code of conduct
for the chat though, after a number of issues.)
--students can ask questions at any stage and these questions will be answered
-they immediately tell you if they do not understand (something I do not get so readily from each classmember in a normal classroom) I feel this is one of an online classroom's biggest advantages. Students have the chance and feel comfortable with expressing their opinions and needs.
As such, I am using elluminate more and more with all types of classes. For revision with my year 12 students as their exams loom. This is mainly in the evenings. To be able to teach two subjects at once (year 11 and 12 accounting) and attempting to give each group special and meaningful tuition) We have recently demonstrated the use of elluminate and Ping to our Minister for Education who was also in Melbourne,whilst the students were back in the country! Elluminate has also been used for students summits to summarise student reflections on the flatclassroom
Hints for successful use of elluminate in intitial phases (with students)
-remove all private messaging priveleges.
-go through the code of conduct with chat
-disable chat if they misbehave
-for serious issues, place offenders in timeout room, this soon brings them all into behaving
-ALWAYS, always just have a couple of lessons to let them play with all the tools ie whiteboard etc before you start in earnest. Students love to fiddle and that whiteboard is so tempting.
-be extremely organised with lots of imagery, use ppt slides etc as there needs to be a lot happening to keep students
engaged.-take screen shots.
-get students to put together some ppt slides and talk to them
-ensure the school's firewall does not prevent the use of elluminate, and that java can be enabled.
-Use polls, take snapshots etc.
-Allow use of microphone when confident
-Learn how to test the audio and mic options as these sometimes need to be tweaked.
-Use video camera option if necessary.
Where I will go from here
-increase my usage of elluminate
-seek out guest expert speakers who might come into my classroom remotely. eg authors, accountants, museum officials etc.
-spend time putting together lessons in MS Powerpoint etc
-keep trying to get aspects of elluminate working at school eg the webtour will not work due to restrictions.
-the presenter's voice must tell the story with as much emotion as possible, as the usual body language in a classroom is not so well seen.
-if the presenter is online or from a distant location, two way video is important so that they can see what the class is up to and see the body language of the class. (this is an issue I am still working on as my setup is extremely primitive).
-get the students to run some classes
-work globally in such a classroom
nb Our education dept have purchased a license with elluminate, so it is free for me to use at the moment. Otherwise it would be too expensive.