Elluminate, Inc. is a company that offers a suite of services to facilitate online learning. The combination of several Elluminate products offers a total solution for web based learning for almost anyone with a computer and network connection. It is platform independent and allows students to interact and communicate via various connections in different locations. The basic concept of the service is to create a virtual workspace for learners to attend and interact with others in an online setting. The suite is comprised of three key components for teachers to use: preparation, attendance, and archival.
Description of ApplicationEdit
Elluminate consists of three elements of use. Preparation, presentation and archival allow learning content to be ready and available when needed.
Classroom Content ManagementEdit
Teachers have the ability to plan and coordinate their lessons in a logical format prior to teaching their learners. Content such as PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, videos, and much more can be preconfigured in order to be prepared for the session ahead of time. This also allows the teacher to have more time to focus on facilitating conversation and collaboration with the learners during the live session.
Real-time Remote CollaborationEdit
Learners participate in the live session by visiting a specified URL. They can be equipped with as little as a computer and network connection, or use more robust communication tools including microphones and video cameras. There are many tools in the virtual classroom that aid the teacher and learners to communicate, theorize and conceptualize ideas. Tools such as the whiteboard and chat sessions, allow the learner to express ideas and thoughts visually to others. The ability to speak via VOIP (voice over IP) or to call into a conference phone line promotes audible learning and articulation of thoughts. A combination of audio and visual learning can also be experienced through the use of additional tools such as microphones and video cameras. Based on the outcome of the session, it may be useful to also divide into subgroups to work on particular tasks. Breakout rooms are available for this type of assignment, and the moderator can bring everyone back into the main session once sufficient time has been given for the breakout sessions.
Recording the content is the last piece that completes the suite of tools. Once the session is over, all of the recorded material can be distributed through various methods, allowing others to partake in the experience even after the session is over. This also gives the teacher the opportunity to go back and evaluate the learners, and how they progress through the session. Learners can go back and repeat sections in order to fully grasp certain concepts or ideas that may have been confusing or misunderstood while attending the live session.
Online collaboration tools like Elluminate offer transformative potential for both the teacher and learner, and aids in motivating and enhancing the learning experience.
Elluminate for TeachersEdit
With Elluminate, and other online collaboration tools, the teacher or moderator of the session has many features that exist in a typical classroom setting along with additional tools and resources. As shown in the picture above, there is a wide range of tools and features that allow the teacher and learners to be actively involved with each other during the live session.
The teacher can involve the students by quizzing them, or calling on an individual to answer a question or provide feedback. They can present content using various tools including the whiteboard space, present PowerPoint or video. Teachers can even take the learners on a Web Tour to view educational or informative sites. Since each student is being guided through the site via the Elluminate software, it is less likely that they will become distracted by other sites or click away or get lost while navigating through the pages.
There are also tools that provide for ADA (American's with Disabilities Act) compliance, including Closed-Captioning, enlarged video views, and screen reader compatability. This opens up the availability to an audience that may not be able to participate in a typical classroom environment.
Elluminate for LearnersEdit
The availability of content and topics is exponentially increased with online offerings. Online collaboration tools give the learner the opportunity to take part in something that may not have been possible in the past. Online classes no longer have to be based on reading books and writing about them or taking tests. Education is made available to learners all over the world regardless of where the teacher is located in relation to the learner.
Remote students are included in discussion, knowledge sharing, and other interactions with their peers. The screen shot above identifies some of the features available to the learner. Participants can raise their hand virtually with the click of a button to answer a question, or ask for assistance. Emoticons can be used to indicate feeling or emotion of a topic, or alternatively audio/video inputs can be used for the learner to express thoughts and ideas in an audible or visual manner.
Open Source AlternativesEdit
There are several open source alternatives available such as Yugma and Vyew. Each product provides a set of features and capabilities for teachers, but most are still in the early stages of development and have functional limitations. Yugma for example requires an application to be installed on the computer being used, which may require certain rights and access levels on the computer. Also, it does not include built in functionality for voice. Additional tools such as Skype are recommended by the software vendor to fill the void.
Interesting ways of using Elluninate to Support EducationEdit
- Distance Education for learners to attend learning sessions, anywhere in the world.
- Recording and archival of lectures for future use or presentation online.
- Replace in-class sessions with remote sessions rather than canceling class due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
- Asynchronous content development.
- Tutotring programs.
- Classroom collaboration.
- Virtual office hours.
- Student/Parent orientation.
- Remote guest speakers and virtual field trips.
- Professional Development
The following is a list of activities that can utilize the free vRoom solution for use with 3 people or less.
- Small group exercises out of class - Group work can be facilitated by using the Elluminate software. This can make it easier for those that may not be able to meet due to schedule conflict or other limitations restricting meeting time.
- Remote classroom learning - For some classes, it may be feasible to offer the class remotely, rather that traveling to a central location. In such cases, Elluminate can serve as the conference tool to communicate and collaborate.
- Online parent teacher conference - Coordinating parent-teacher conferences can often be difficult. Having an option like Elluminate to use as a communication medium provides additional flexibility to meet and discuss student progress.