Audiographics moves to the Web

Steve Rowe, School of Commerce and Management, Southern Cross University
Email: steve.rowe@scu.edu.au

Allan Ellis, School of Commerce and Management, Southern Cross University
Email: allan.ellis@scu.edu.au

Abstract

Traditional audiographic set-ups, using bridged phone lines (audio) and modem linked computers (graphics) were a well established educational technology just before and in the early years of the Web. Over the last few years a second generation of Web-based audiographics software, now commonly termed Web conferencing or collaborative software, has renewed educational and business interests in this technology.

This new generation of audiographics relies on Internet connections and using powerful and reliable server-based platforms, offers a range of integrated instructional tools (VoIP, shared whiteboard, shared applications, video windows and archival recording) all within a single, easy to manage, Web browser window.

One of these new generation products, Elluminate Live! [HREF1] is being used for teaching within the School of Commence and Management at Southern Cross University. Issues of staff and student use in the early phase of adoption are outlined and the additional advantages of this second generation audiographics technology are discussed.

Traditional Audiographics

Audiographics established itself as an educational technology in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The typical layout involved linking a number of classrooms or training sites via a combination of voice circuitry, the ‘audio’ component and linked computers, the ‘graphics’ component. At its most basic two rooms were linked by low end computers and modems over one telephone line, while a voice link was established over a second telephone line. The teacher or instructor controlled the session from one room and the other became a ‘remote classroom’ or ‘remote training site’. Additional sites (usually not more than 3 or 4) required telephone bridging (often purchased from the phone company) and additional computer/modem connections. Depending upon the number of participants at each site, speaker phones and multiple screens (or a single projector and large screen) may have been required.

Instructionally, traditional audiographics provided a relatively low cost, low technology solution that was applicable to many teaching and instructional settings. It provided an interactive voice environment supported by a shared whiteboard and the ability to distribute documents and graphics – the fundamental features of the traditional face-to-face classroom. It required minimal user training and was able to draw on existing electronic educational resources or resources that could be easily scanned and saved in electronic format. In the first half of the 1990’s audiographics could be found in use across a range of educational settings: K-12 (Gray & O’Grady, 1993; Oliver and Reeves, 1994), higher education (Ellis & Debreceny, 1994), teacher in-service training (Knapczyk, 1992; McCullagh & Stacy, 1993) and staff training (Miller, 1991).  Ellis, Debreceny and Crago (1996) summarise the technical evolution of the Australian audiographic product Electronic Classroom ®.  This product was used at Southern Cross University for a number of years in the early 1990’s mainly to teach accounting subjects to groups of students on the Lismore and Coffs Harbour campuses and some of the regional study centres (Grafton and Tweed Heads). Use ceased when the accounting staff member championing the use of the technology moved to an overseas university, and at the same time the Web become a cheaper and lower cost way of sharing resources. This illustrates the importance of recognising that innovation is often driven by an individual and can falter if that individual ceases to be active or competing technologies develop.

Web Conferencing and Collaborative software

In the second half of the 1990’s traditional audiographics technologies was one of the casualties of the spread of the Internet and the rapid technical evolution of the Web. This demise was due to a number of factors including:

  1. The spread of Internet accounts from research and university environments into the commercial and domestic marketplace. This provided a cheap and convenient way to interconnect computers locally, nationally and internationally.
  2. Improvements in compression technologies that allow the delivery of VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) of a quality similar to traditional phone line audio.
  3. The availability of faster modems (up to 56K) as well as ADSL and cable connections, that provided the capacity to exchange large files and allow application sharing. Higher bandwidth also allows for the “remote control” of one computer by another at speeds sufficient to undertake (demonstrate) complex tasks.
  4. Improvements in compression technologies and the miniturization and cost reduction in colour video cameras (Webcams). These developments made basic, small window videoconferencing over IP easy and affordable.
  5. Larger, higher quality colour screens allowed multiple control panel features and shared work spaces to be designed as a single Web browser screen.
  6. The ubiquitous presence of Web browsers and widespread user familiarity with point and click browser-based software have removed the need for extensive pre-session training. Users can literally learn as they use the system and training is now more focused on just in time training and performance support.
  7. The spread of lower cost and progressively more powerful consumer level computers together with cheap headset speaker/microphones and Webcams, gives individuals the opportunity to join sessions from their workplace, home or even from a hotel while travelling.
  8. The falling cost of hard disk storage space makes it possible to archive large amounts of data on fast recall systems so that users have easy and fast access to recorded sessions.

These factors have combined to allow the development and marketing of a second generation of audiographics software, now commonly described as  “Web conferencing”, “virtual meetings” or “collaborative” software. Some of the most widely used systems now on the market include:
Centra 7 [HREF2], a line of integrated products that are targeted at schools, universities and business meeting and training environments.
Webex [HREF3] state they provide browser-based, on demand Web conferences, Web meetings, Webinars and Webcasts.
Breeze 5 [HREF4] is marketed as a rich Web communication system that can be used for online training, marketing, sales and Web conferencing.
Live Classroom [HREF5] in one a number of integrated tools provided by Horizon-Wimba and claims to provide a fully featured live virtual classroom.
Elluminate Live! [HREF1] offers tools such as VoIP, shared whiteboard and applications, remove control, text chat and video for e-learning and collaboration. It is aimed at both the education and business market. SCU, Deakin, Chisholm and TAFE WA are current licence holders.
Citrix MeetingToGo [HREF6] claims to offer an easy, secure and cost effective solution to conducting meetings online.
ASAP pro [HREF7] from Convoq  offers Web conferencing for up to 15 people at a time using screen sharing and audio, video and Powerpoint type tools.
Microsoft Live Meeting [HREF8]
This product has been evolving and is now a far more complex product than its competitors. It greatest attraction is probably its integration with the Microsoft Office suite.

A review of 5 packages, that focuses on the similarities and differences and provides details on charges and licence fees, is provided by Mckenzie (2005) [HREF9] Murillo, Rizzuto and Sayers (2005) [HREF10] provide a detailed product comparison of Centra (version 6) and WebEx (version 7.0.1.0). 

As well as these fully featured products that aim for wide market share there are also a range of less well known products that target specific market sectors, for example, sales force training. For more details check out an independent site maintained by David Woolley [HREF11] titled a “Web Conferencing Guide”: A comprehensive guide to software that powers discussions on the Internet, and includes section on Web Conferencing, Video Conferencing, Online Meetings, Instant Messaging, Forums & Message Boards, Groupware, Social Software for Online Collaboration, Online Communities, and Virtual Teams.

What features do second generation systems offer?

Some of the key advantages of these second generation Web-based products include:

1. The ability to connect relatively large numbers of individual users at non-specific locations (at home or work or from a hotel if travelling) rather than 3 or 4 small groups meeting at predetermined locations.

2. The ability to easily connect users  (locally, globally and internationally) at relatively low cost with crystal clear VOIP. (Phone line charges and reliability precluded traditional audiographics technologies being used internationally.)

3. The ability to stream video and perform graphic intensive applications sharing and remote control provided there is modest bandwidth connectivity available to users (100+Kbps). Conversely these systems have ability to provide voice, whiteboard and basic shared applications over very low user connectivity speeds (28Kbps).

4. Ability to archive presentations for future playback.

5. Ability to create breakout rooms. These rooms can be created on the fly or in advance, individually stocked with appropriate electronic resources, and visited by the moderator at will or as requested by participants.

6. Polling tools for immediate feedback about comprehension that can be shared with participants.

7. Chat tools (including a closed captioning capability) complying with disability standards allowing a variety of colour choices and easy alteration of text size.

8. Advanced intuitive participant management tools enabling individual or group wide permission for use of tools, hand raising with queuing, emoticons, activity and temporary absence indicators.

9. The ability to interactively tour Web sites.

10. The ability to remotely control other computers and/or applications for demonstration, training and diagnostic purposes.

The challenge or “problem” for universities and other training organizations is how to interest teaching staff in using these new technologies and how to provide advanced training to those who do show interest. In an increasingly competitive education and training market success in incorporating new technology into the core business of the organization may be crucial to its ongoing success and viability.

Elluminate Live! at Southern Cross University

The following sub-sections provide a detailed history of the introduction and use of the second generation, Web-based “audiographics” product, Elluminate Live! (and hereafter called simply Elluminate) at Southern Cross University (SCU). They outline the first author’s exposure to the product, how a licence was obtained and how it is being progressively introduced to more and more staff and students at SCU.

2003 and 2004: Finding out about Elluminate

During 2003 while attending AusWeb03 and co-presenting a paper about the successful use of discussion forums for engaging accounting theory students (Rowe and Vitartas, 2003) [HREF12] I was invited to the NAWeb03 conference [HREF13] in New Brunswick, Canada. I had been experimenting with using the chat based virtual classroom in Blackboard [HREF14] and jumped at the opportunity to share those experiences internationally (Rowe, 2003) [HREF15]. At the conference I  attended a pre-conference workshop facilitated by Phil O’Hara from Dalhousie University and was introduced to the Horizon-Wimba virtual classroom, complete with VoIP and application sharing [HREF16]. Suddenly what I was there to present became what I have since described as “the traditional virtual classroom”.
The same sequence of conferences was attended during 2004. AusWeb04 shared an innovative use of DFs connecting undergraduates with graduate professionals in auditing. (Rowe, 2004a) [HREF17]. NAWeb04, however, was used as an opportunity to pause and reflect on my journey into online delivery to date (Rowe. 2004b) [HREF18]. A vendor presentation during the conference by Elluminate, and discussions with others at the conference who had used the product (Nobes, Farmer & Petersen-Banfield, 2004, [HREF19] and Farmer & Nobes, 2004, [HREF20]) convinced me that I wanted to trial a shared whiteboard with voice at SCU.

Semester 1, 2005: The School decision

So, for the next six months of 2005 I lobbied and researched a couple of products and negotiated for a licence from Elluminate. To my eternal gratification and surprise the School of Commerce & Management committed funds for a 6 month 25 seat licence two weeks prior to the start of second semester, 2005. No rigorous comparative evaluation of features was undertaken. Others outside SCU have proceeded differently. For an example of such an evaluation see Smisson’s (2005) presentation from the Hawaii Distance Learning Conference [HREF21] and an Elluminate Webinar featuring the same author (2006) in joint presentation moderated by Rajeev Arora [HREF22].

While it was recognized that several products are very good, the Elluminate demonstration convinced me it was the “Rolls Royce” of what was currently available. Their willingness to negotiate a fee that was affordable to our School was also an important factor. Their level of service has been outstanding and the support offered within the site is second to none for technical and non-technical users.

Semester 2, 2005: The Faculty decision

During second semester 2005, Elluminate was used actively for teaching an advanced auditing class (11 students) and a colleague tried it for irregular contact with students in a quantitative methods unit. Tables 1 to 4 are presented to show a summary of the features and uses of Elluminate to date. More specific explanations of the evolution of this current usage is presented below.

The most prominent use was for demonstrations to other staff within the School and SCU more generally (see Table 4). It was also used for meetings and seminar presentations for our teaching and learning series to reach the wider SCU community to promote the potential (see Tables 2 and 3).

Lee Dunn from the SCU Teaching and Learning Centre compiled feedback from the advanced auditing course participants by individual phone contact at the end of the semester. This overwhelmingly positive feedback from students provided considerable force to arguments from staff to continue the licence for 2006. An initial analysis of the student feedback was presented at the Illinois Online Conference by Rowe (2006) and the future research implications are discussed later in this paper.

In addition to these activities, a number of other schools and business units around SCU have had demonstrations (see Table 4). Elluminate representatives have also visited for presentations to SCU management, conduct staff training sessions and trouble shoot with IT staff about their review of the product with a view to confirming the commitment IT would need to make to support the use of Elluminate.

While interest across SCU was generated, only the Schools within the Faculty of Business were prepared to commit to extending the licence to 50 seats for all of 2006. Hence the activity for teaching shown in Table 1 indicates a mix of business courses rather than reflecting the broader range of SCU courses. In addition to pedagogical potential, the opportunity for savings in travel between campuses, cities and countries for classes, workshops, meetings and teletutorials were considerations. An opportunity to provide real opportunities for our international offshore students to interact with our onshore students was another potential area for exploration (see HKIT and SIPMM sessions in Tables 1, 2 and 4 and Conclusions & Future Directions later).

As part of the School of Commerce and Management 2005 planning day in December, an implementation plan was presented given the decision of the Faculty to expand and extend the licence for 2006. An outline of the plan is presented:

  1. Step 1 – Software Setup
  2. Step 2 – Training for Users
  3. Additional Resources
  4. What is still needed?

Semester 1, 2006: Faculty wide use

In relation to Step 1 from the plan, one very pleasing aspect to date has been the LACK of problems encountered by students (and staff) preparing themselves to use Elluminate. This was something of a concern given my extremely low level of technical expertise! In addition, my intention was to rely on the help function within Elluminate to trouble shoot any problems that did arise. I was worried about this being a "false faith" ... but, the experience has been that the few issues we have had, have ALL been resolved by using their excellent Technical Support database, and much of that has been achieved by the actual user following the directions on that site ... it is very good. Some issues have been hardware matters, but again they were diagnosed by following the database information .... for anyone interested, have a browse support site [HREF23].

The decision was taken to prepare a generic folder for activation from within a course site in MySCU (Blackboard) with instructions for students to download and prepare for using Elluminate. This was essentially the standard material provided by Elluminate on their public Web site [HREF23].
A significant development in relation to Step 1 that is worth mentioning at this point is that the SCU IT team has completed an evaluation of the impact on their resources of supporting Elluminate. They will be now be available for Level 1 support through the SCU Helpdesk and are keen to use Elluminate’s application sharing capabilities to assist distance students with their IT issues, for example being able to take remote control of the student’s machine for diagnostic purposes. In addition, they have prepared the software requirements for access in the SCU IT software download site to make it as easy as possible for students to ready themselves to use Elluminate and this includes limiting the impact of the initial Java download on their corporate download limits. They are also keen to utilize it for some of their staff training activities. They have also committed to load it onto all SCU computer laboratory equipment ready for Semester 2.

In relation to Step 2 of the plan, a series of online workshops for staff were arranged during the latter half of December 2005 and January 2006 for those staff interested in trialling the use of Elluminate. These sessions were also showcased during some school planning days reflected in Table 4. A group of faculty administration staff responsible for booking external teletutorials and workshops were also trained in booking Elluminate rooms for sessions where staff had chosen to use Elluminate for delivery. In addition, a series of Student Orientation sessions (12 x 1 hr) during Orientation week and week 1 of semester were conducted.

We now have active participation in the range of activities (described in Tables 1 – 4) across the three schools within the Faculty – Commerce & Management, Tourism and Hospitality Management and the Graduate College of Management. We currently have 13 staff actively using Elluminate in a variety of ways. Considerable interest has emerged from other sections of SCU and we are participating in a number of international collaborations to further highlight the potential to all stakeholders in SCU.

Semester 2, 2006: Future useage

Five accounting staff within the school of Commerce and Management will each be involved in delivery of 6 hours of their courses to HKIT as a result of an agreement with that international partner. This is to reduce the time we spend offshore and as a trial to guage the impact on student learning by offering additional points of contact with local (international) staff and students.

A program to work closely with HKIT staff during Trimester B of 2006 is also currently being arranged. The Hong Kong staff member who has been actively involved in the implementation of Elluminate in Auditing has been invited to be involved in staff development activities during the Trimester B postgraduate offering of the Auditing course. The intention is to not only have the HK cohort of students actively participate with the Australian distance cohort (and international students studying on-campus in Australia) but to also deliver several lectures using Elluminate so that feedback can be offered about delivery style and effectiveness. The intention is to provide some real quality improvement for both staff and students in the context of a real internationalisation of the course offering.

Tourism staff are planning to invite distance students to actively participate in workshop group activities used for on-campus students using the Breakout Rooms feature for a second semester, first year course with enrolments of several hundred. Further demonstration sessions for Tourism staff are also being arranged.

As a result of positive experience by staff and students in the Graduate College of Management and Commerce and Management, there will be extensive use of Elluminate to replace teletutorials during Trimesters B and C and Semester 2. This will also be a specific aim for a number of other Faculty staff. Variations on the traditional weekend workshop model are also being trialled. The benefit to both staff and students of having several shorter workshops scheduled throughout the semester/trimester rather than a single 6 hour session once per teaching period is keen to be exploited and evaluated.

In addition, there are a number of opportunities to collaborate across our multiple campuses for both staff and students so that resources can be shared more efficiently. For example, in some courses the lecturer may need to travel between several campuses to deliver the same material multiple times. A number of staff have expressed interest in trialling delivery of a single weekly class using Elluminate which can be joined remotely by students at other campuses (especially if the program is available in SCU computing laboratories and classrooms) or by distance students with an internet connection. The lecturer can still travel to various campuses, but not every week, rather on a rotational basis. If each session is recorded, then that is an additional flexible option to students (and a staff development opportunity to review the delivery). The idea is not to connect with students less, but rather much more efficiently.

One of the authors will also be conducting a seminar using Elluminate for our Teaching and Learning Centre in May while attending a conference in London. The subject will be exploring any teaching activities currently undertaken by staff and demonstrating how that can be done using Ellumiante. The intention is to demonstrate that online delivery is a very flexible option that can be readily achieved using most of the resources the staff already have prepared for use in the physical classroom.

2007: A wish list

What lies ahead for an extension of the current contract? From the interest generated, the level of adoption and the generous positive feedback at this early stage of 2006, it is difficult to see that at the very least the Faculty will not be keen to proceed. As a simple example, 3 nights of the week are already booked to our 50 seat limit. While this is positive it also highlights a challenge of scheduling that emerges when synchronous collaboration tools are activated. This will be a challenge to be planned for as it is another timetabling level for the institution and it requires a policy on priorities when meetings are added to the mix.

Ideally, the level of usage within the Faculty and the interest shown by other Faculties and business units of the university will encourage the extension of the licence to a larger number of seats. This would enable the serious consideration of integration into Blackboard with improved flexibility for individual staff to schedule meeting and/or teaching commitments just as we currently do for our course content. This actually has the potential to alleviate some of the timetabling problems. The potential efficiency in delivery and improved flexibility for students of recordings are significant to monitor.

It would be wonderful to see a seminar series being run university wide that offers opportunities for local, national and international participation. It would be wonderful to see 30% of all our university staff training being conducted using Elluminate so that individual location and travel is simply much less an issue in planning that training.

It would be wonderful to experience our international offshore partners participating with onshore students as a single cohort of students so that our delivery enabled a ready international experience, again, independent of location. It would be wonderful to see regular integrated delivery of course content by local lecturers employed by our international partners to facilitate regular, meaningful and real-time quality review of their professional skills.

It would be wonderful to see 50% of all SCU meetings conducted using Elluminate. The savings in travel, associated expenses and unproductive time would be enormous. This can be extended to offering opportunities to regional partners for using meeting rooms to fulfil our strategic obligations and offer the same savings throughout the region.

Most of all it would be wonderful to see the goodwill generated among our students where the level of support we can offer has the potential to increase dramatically with the resulting positive impact on our attrition rates. It IS wonderful to see how they enjoy a sense of community from being able to connect with ALL of their class (if they choose) and to have ALL students as a single cohort … this we KNOW from our feedback.

(#) Key for Tools used as indicated in Tables 1 and 2 below: M – audio(mic); D – text (direct messaging); W – whiteboard; P – powerpoint conversion; Ap – application sharing; R – recording; O – other

Table 1: Teaching Activity (16 courses listed below being delivered by 13 staff).

 

Course Code

Course Name

Level

Purpose

Tools Used (#)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

MKT00727

Retail Marketing and Management

Pg

2 x 1.5 hr sessions replacing teletutorials

M

D

W

P

 

R

 

2

ECC00720

Economics for Management

Pg

2 x 1.5 hr sessions replacing teletutorials

M

D

W

P

 

R

 

3

MNG01222

Facility and Risk Management for Hospitality Operations

Ug

Weekly 2hr class for externals (not previously offered)

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

 

4

MAT10248

Quantitative Analysis for Business

Ug

2 x 1hr weekly Excel workshops for internals (not previously offered);
3 x 1hr workshops for externals replacing 2 x 6 hour weekend workshops.

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

 

5

MNG10253

Sustainable Business Management

Ug

1.5 hr weekly class (previously using Blackboard text virtual classroom)

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

 

6

ACC00134

Advanced Taxation

Ug

1.5 hr weekly online class (previously only available face to face on a single campus)

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

 

7

MKT00102

Consumer Behaviour

Ug

1 hr weekly consultation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8

MKT00106

Marketing Research

Ug

1 hr weekly consultation; 1 hr irregular SPSS tutorials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9

ACC00130

Auditing

Ug

1 hr pre-recording of lectures; 3 x 2hr workshops for externals (replacing 6 hr weekend workshop); invited guest panel discussion; 6 hrs of lectures to HKIT (Hong Kong) student cohort

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

O

10

ACC00148

Advanced Financial Reporting

Ug

2 hr weekly class (previously using Blackboard text virtual classroom); international guest presentation; student presentations

M

D

W

P

Ap

R

O

11

MAT00792

Research Methods (Honours)

Ug

1hr irregular consultation with candidates; some demonstrations for SPSS

M

D

W

P

Ap

 

 

12

ACC00153

Business Information Systems

Ug

2 x 1 hr teletutorials with domestic students & 1 x 2hr workshop with Hong Kong students

M

D

W

P

 

R

 

13

ACC00146

Management Accounting

Ug

2 x 1 hr teletutorials with external students

M

D

W

P

 

 

 

14

CSC10208

Software Design

Ug

5 x 2hr workshops with students (previously some teletutorial time)

 

 

 

 

 

R

 

15

Education

Postgrad supervision

Pg

1.5 hr weekly progress sessions

M

D

W

P

Ap

 

O

16

Business

Student Orientation

Pg/Ug

12 x 1hr training sessions

M

D

W

P

Ap

 

O

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Table 2: Meeting Activity

International between SCU and

 

Tools Used (#)

University of Southern
Florida

Discuss replication of research questionnaires and using the
Elluminate Live SAS.

M

 

 

 

Ap

HKIT (Hong Kong
Partner)

Discuss, plan and test set up of dedicated server for using
Elluminate on their campus.

M

D

W

P

Ap

SIPMM (Singapore
Partner)

WSRI Board of Directors meetings

M

 

 

P

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faculty Staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lismore

Complete individual staffing schedule

M

 

 

 

Ap

Lismore, Coffs, Tweed

Discuss staffing and teaching schedules

M

 

 

 

Ap

 

Emerging Technology Issues Committee

M

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planned

 

 

 

 

 

 

HKIT (Hong Kong
Partner)

Regular monthly administration meetings

 

 

 

 

 

Lismore, Coffs, Tweed

Administration working party to address implementation
of re-organisation requirements

 

 

 

 

 

Sustainable Tourism
CRC

Regular meetings between 7 CRC researchers and related
industry and university reps from around Australia

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3: Seminar Activity using Elluminate Live!

Adelaide and London
Universities

Diana Laurillard: Harnessing the Power
of e-learning In Higher Education

41 Australian & NZ unis using a Multi Venue Participation model for 474 participants

SCU Teaching & Learning
Centre

Steve Rowe: Hybrid models of delivery

Delivery of seminar to staff as a demonstration
of potential teaching and research delivery
potential

University of Hawaii-Manoa College of Education, Elluminate, Sun Microsystems, and Pan-Pacific Distance Learning Association

Current Issues and Initiatives in
Distance Education

Participation in 9 x 1hr international presentations;
“attendance” was from individual SCU offices as well as via the SCU Library wireless network

Illinois Online Conference

Steve Rowe: Report of a review regarding student perceptions of the value of using ‘Elluminate Live!’
for tutorials in Advanced Auditing

Delivery of paper at this 3 x 8hr day fully online
Conference

Elluminati

Monthly best practice presentations by
Elluminate users

Participation to learn about best practices for
dissemination & potential adoption at SCU

Table 4: Training Activity using Elluminate Live!

Staff demonstrations

Commerce & Management
Tourism & Hospitality Management
Graduate College of Management
Education
Teaching & Learning Centre
Flexible learning development team
Student Services Management team
Learning Assistance team
HKIT teaching and admin team
Moderator training

Elluminate managers

Presentation to SCU managers and staff
SCU IT evaluation group
Faculty user group

TAFE WA

Moderator training

SCU User Group

Fortnightly best practice sharing workshops

Faculty administration staff

Alternate SAS Administrator

 

SAS meeting/course bookings

Elluminate

Use of their live events schedule

All the tools shown in the Key for Tools used for Tables 1 and 2 are regularly used in the Activities shown in Tables 3 and 4.

Conclusions and future directions

While the invention and growth of the Web was the cause of the demise of traditional audiographic technologies it has at the same time been responsible for the development and growth of a new generation of Web conferencing tools that can do everything that the traditional audiographics products did and much more. The challenge for educators, trainers and business groups is now to fully exploit the new features of this second generation Web-based technology (Madigan, 2006).

One interesting point about this “makeover” is that it has been so complete that the very word “audiographics” is not featured in the over one million entries in Wikipedia [HREF24]. This is despite the fact that most new software still relines on voice and a shared whiteboard as the two key communication tools.

We were fortunate enough to contact and obtain permission from Shauna Schullo (2005) at the University of Southern Florida to replicate pre and post questionnaires developed for her PhD thesis (unpublished). This contact was made during one of Elluminate’s regular training and practice sessions one of the authors participated in. We have conducted pre-use surveys with students at the beginning of Semester 1 and they will be fully anlaysed with the post-use results at the end of the semester. The feedback has been positive in terms of the ease of use of the software and the way that it assists the student with their learning by being able to see what is being talked about and ability to connect with others in their courses.

In addition, Peter Vitartas will report results of a pilot study into factors affecting student’s self-efficacy of Elluminate at AusWeb06. Peter has had a number of expressions of interest to extend his pilot during Semester 2 to a much larger range of students. An IT colleague has indicated a potential expansion of this study to evaluate IT student preferences for text based rather than voice based discussions which appear to be strongly preferred by non-IT students.

One of the authors will be evaluating results of a group task required in an advanced course that has been offered with and without Elluminate available for group members to collaborate.

Another area for investigation and evaluation is the extent to which savings have actually been made in areas of travel and associated costs by the use of Elluminate for various activities described herein. The aim is to demonstrate that the outlay has been covered by these cost savings.

The success or otherwise of the proposed staff development initiatives for the international partners will also be evaluated. In addition individual staff are being interviewed about their initial and on-going experiences using Elluminate. The regular user group meetings are also proving fertile ground for ideas worthy of further investigation and also to track the variety of ways that Elluminate is being used for course delivery and other types of collaboration. No doubt many more will emerge as wider adoption occurs.

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Copyright

Steve Rowe & Allan Ellis © 2006. The authors assign to Southern Cross University and other educational and non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors also grant a non-exclusive licence to Southern Cross University to publish this document in full on the World Wide Web and on CD-ROM and in printed form with the conference papers and for the document to be published on mirrors on the World Wide Web.