You say synchronous, I say . . .

I recently attended a TCC (Technology, Colleges and Community) Conference session, Open Content for Online Faculty Development, which provided attendees an overview of professional development courses offered by Colorado Community Colleges Online. 

Upon reviewing my notes, I realized the presenter managed to do more than walk us through links on the CCCO’s wiki, which, for some reason is what I seem to remember the most. In fact, the Q&A part of the session yielded a fair amount of information. I was impressed enough to visit the wiki and feel certain that I will use it for my own development.

Elluminate was an excellent choice for the presentation. Downloading it was easy and quick, with only one minor Windows-related issue that was very easy to resolve. Elluminate is intuitive and easy to use. The interactive features – chat box, raising hands, and smiley face, for example, proved to be an asset, not a distraction. And, I like the fact that presentations can be recorded.

I think Elluminate holds possibilities for working with tech savvy students to create and present content for a mini-conference of their own. With steady training throughout a course, students could be prepared to present papers or group projects. What a great opportunity for upper-level undergraduates or grad students. Of course, free access to attend a conference would be a great benefit, too. I suppose the most practical, by which I mean free or inexpensive use, however, is for officer hours. 

I would like to have attended another session, but, it was a long week and just didn’t happen.  I plan to access the recorded sessions as time permits.

Give us the tools, and we’ll finish the job!

As a librarian, I have attended several webinars that used WebEx as the collaboration tool, including a series of three workshops I attended last fall. The workshops were led by an outstanding presenter who provided clear instruction with great accompanying visuals. Interestingly enough, there were technical problems with two of the sessions, but the problems did not diminish the value of the series.

For example, with WebEx, audio can be heard through either a speaker phone or computer headset. The telephone requires a mute button or the ability to enter a code that allows the phone to be muted. The phone a colleague and I used did not have a button, so several attempts were needed before we could successfully mute the phone.

Additionally, we found that our need for IT support to provide access to WebEx varied. We successfully participated in the first session without the need for IT assistance to prepare the computer.

Unfortunately, we were able to participate in the first 30 minutes of the second session via audio only while we awaited the arrive of IT to provide access to WebEx. We had not anticipated a problem, so we did not have a back-up plan. Also, during one of the sessions, several attendees lost audio. At other points, several lost visuals. The problems could not be resolved during a brief break, so part of the session was rescheduled.

During each of the sessions, the presenter acknowledged each person as s/he logged in. He responded to questions clearly. Generally, if I recall correctly, the questions were posed via chat, although voice communication was used when attempting to resolve technical difficulties.

Nonetheless, I found WebEx to be a very easy to use tool. The strength of the presenter and the content made the technical problems – both on his end and ours – seem insignificant.  WebEx is a great tool for education, and education is a tool for success.