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Don’t cancel your face to face class – do Elluminate Live!

Imagine that it was the first class of the semester.  The emotions of the teacher and the students varied from slightly curious to extremely anxious.  Watching the news, the instructor discovered that a terrible winter storm was approaching and all of the hard work in terms of class preparation was probably going to be postponed for a week.  Those first thoughts focused on what sections of the schedule would need to be omitted or condensed.

This scenario happened to me as I was preparing for my first face to face class this semester. 

Fortunately, the weather forecaster’s prediction regarding this storm gave me the opportunity to develop an online Plan B.

Several days before class, I emailed the students and informed them that the class may be changed to an online format using Elluminate Live.

I sent the students periodic emails about how to prepare for Elluminate Live.  Instructions recommended having the link and a combination microphone/headset as an option. Those students unable to use a microphone were advised that they could use the chat feature to communicate instead.  Finally, I explained that if individual technical difficulties occurred or other problems like operating with a dial up service restricted their access to the live online session happened, they could listen to a recorded session the following day.

The day of the storm, students were notified by email in the morning and Plan B went into effect!

To prepare for the Elluminate Live session, I began making modifications to my existing PowerPoint presentation. At the beginning of the lecture, each student had the opportunity to provide background information about their learning strengths, experiences with students with special needs and reasons for becoming an educator. The assignments and schedule for the class were presented and discussed. Then, I incorporated additional strategies to engage the students in the lecture. One element enabled the students to interact through questioning, using the polling feature of Elluminate Live. Another design provided writing prompts that required the students’ written responses using the white board. This type of interaction appeared to maintain the students’ interest. Another technique established several think-pair-share opportunities. Small groupings of students were established in Elluminate Live that enabled students to discuss a topic for ten minutes before reporting back to the entire class. Students without microphones were able to provide written responses using chat.  Students who had individual concerns or questions were asked to stay online and those issues were addressed at the end of the session.

During the online class, my teaching partner, (Sharon/wife), also demonstrated the co-teaching model of “one teaching, one observing” by providing feedback about the teaching session. The students’ responses to this type of class were extremely positive. One student commented that she “never realized an online class could be so interactive!” The three students who could not attend the session were notified by email that the recorded session was available.

Rather than canceling class, the students experienced an interactive session allowing them to learn about the major aspects of the chapter and discover how technology can be used effectively for instruction.  Also, the students were able to work through some of those nervous first class of the semester concerns. As an instructor, I covered the necessary course objectives and content.

Modifying a lesson or adapting a lesson quickly because of changes often provides us with opportunities to become creative and to “think outside of the box!” Gusting winds and ten inches of snow provided me with that opportunity!

Hopefully, this blog post will stimulate some experiences and ideas.  Any and all comments are welcome.

1 Comment

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  1. Justin Wright
    September 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    That’s a great idea. I took a lot of online classes going through college and I was amazed at how effective they can be. As more and more tools are becoming available I have a feeling it’s going to become even easier to learn from anywhere, not just face-to-face classes.