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H807 – Elluminate – the ultimate conferencing tool? (A8.2)

March 30, 2011

No, Elluminate is not the ultimate conferencing tool, at least not for me 😦

Our task was to discuss global warming using three images the OU provided.  Our Moderator did a great job, offering us ice cream to make the session more tempting for us. Yet, I liked the ice cream, I also liked to allocate now a voice to a person and the little profile pictures displayed to each posting in the forum or their blogs, but besides that was my negative impression  I gained in H800 again confirmed.

Here my list of the weaknesses from Elluminate

  1. Not secure, in terms that our moderator lost his complete text box with the final feedback and could not restore it.
  2. confusing if everyone starts typing (please don’t get me wrong 😉 and the final presentation of the results is as well quite unclear
  3. I saved the whiteboard as pdf, but it actually just saves a screen shot, hence only what is actually visible in the text box can be seen, but no scrolling is possible. I also saved it as whiteboard, but I haven’t tried if I can upload it back again and read everything in the text boxes
  4. Talking to a brick wall pretty much describes it, no feedback, no nothing, like talking to empty space
  5. Allowing all to talk can still cause audio problems, like echos
  6. interactivity is not really high
  7. strongly reminded my on a typical face-to-face classroom setting
  8. only for small groups
  9. having three communication and activity channels – chat, talking and whiteboard option – can be as well confusing. I sometimes couldn’t follow the chat quick enough and had to scroll back again to read what everybody typed in
  10. it requires some technical knowledge
  11. students (can) start easily messing around – need clear structure, goal and purpose
  12. it reminds me on a little bit better PowerPoint presentation, with the option that everybody can contribute
  13. I wasn’t really convinced with the desktop sharing option
  14. costs money, software is not free
  15. well, I guess I should stop, before I completely disassemble Elluminate.

Here are the few strengths I found

  1. offers different communication channels – chat, audio, video, whiteboard, notebook, etc.
  2. allows that student work together on a collaborative task, contrary to a wiki where only one student one at a time, can edit a wiki
  3. Session can be recorded, with the consent of  participating members
  4. Session can be saved, although with some limitations
  5. Offers many features, like hand raising, queries, etc
  6. Possibility to upload e.g. presentations and images, but new slides can be generated as well

Here is the list of pros from Kate, our moderator in this session.

  1. Great for giving prepared presentations to distance students.
  2. Can be prepared and saved beforehand.
  3. Great interaction, once we activate all speakers!
  4. Great that everyone can graffiti on the board – highlight things etc.
  5. Great that we can type in IM box off to side at any time.
  6. Great to share desktop, so can demonstrate, for example, how an interactive website works.
  7. Good that links can be given for students to follow.
  8. There are side rooms, where folk can break away for discussions in smaller groups.
  9. Good that there is a notebook integrated.
  10. Good that sessions can be recorded and saved for future reference.
  11. Nice to be able to hear everyone’s voices!
  12. Nice interaction, ie, applauding hands to show appreciation.
  13. Quality depends on quality of images uploaded…  Resolution can’t be enhanced!
  14. Teacher can’t see what you’re drinking!

I agree with Kate that the teacher cannot see what I am drinking, except we would have used the video option.

I partly see the benefits Kate mentions, but nevertheless I found the way we used Elluminate  not overly innovative. Don’t get me wrong, I know the activity we had to do was predefined, but it strongly reminded me on a typical face-to-face teaching lesson. ‘Student X would you please come to the board and highlight what has changed in the image’. We did not really come up with new ways how we could use Elluminate and we acted similar to students probably would have done. Nobody really gave answers, nobody wanted to highlight anything, etc. A typical classroom 😉 ,  but it clearly highlighted the potential downfalls that could happen when using  Elluminate with students. You have to be prepared that they start graffiti the whiteboard, or delete the work of others.

Ok, besides my negative attitude towards Elluminate, it would be worth giving it a try, but just with a clearly structured and planned activity and a real purpose. Otherwise I already see them ending up in ‘chaos’ like we did. Well, we did not end up in chaos, we ended up eating ice cream 😉

Reference

Elluminate (2011) eLearning  & Collaboration Solutions [online] http://www.elluminate.com/ (accessed 30 March 2011)

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3 Comments
  1. I actually found the session very difficult to moderate – not because I had a difficult class, but because the materials were of such poor quality, and the challenges set were so dull. Had I been in possession of more confidence, then I would have found decent images from the internet to use. I would have liked to use a link to the website those images were pulled from, and slid the sliders ourselves. And I would have somehow found a way to link Global Warming to a need to eat our ice cream now!!!

    Thanks for being positive, Sylvia. I felt like crawling into a hole and staying there after the session finished!!

    • Hallo Kate,
      sorry Kate to hear that you felt bad afterwards, but there was no need for it. I really think considering, like you said, the poor material and the design of the activity, and our constant time pressure we have with juggling two courses, that you did a great job :-). And we as your students did not really improve the situation. But look at the bright side, if you survived us, you can survive every class 😉

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