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Elluminate meetings

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I have had a couple of Elluminate meetings recently with new students from my E852 groups.

It has seemed to me that it is difficult to encourage deep thought on Elluminate and the more exploratory talk (Mercer 2000) does not really occur.  One reason for this is that wait time in Elluminate seems very awkward - much more than in face to face student where it is possible to see whether students are thinking or just completely stumped. 

I put these thoughts to one of the groups at the end of the session and there was quite an interesting response with one saying that my view was the result of being a man.  This comment seemed to resonate with the other (all were female) students in the session.   Perhaps this relates to what Rovai (2001: 41) calls “socio-emotional messages” and they feel that the sense of belonging is more important than the content.

This seems reasonable as students can really theorise and reflect on complex issues in the asynchronous forums but Elluminate helps them to feel part of the course.

Mercer, N. (2000) Words and Minds: how we use language to think together. London: Routledge.
Rovai, A.P. (2001) “Building classroom community at a distance: a case study” Education Technology Research and Development, Vol. 49, No. 4, 2001, pp. 33–48


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SXR103 chemistry is fun (2008) :-)

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I've no idea which course you are talking about. But I'm not keen on elluminate for multi-way conversation.

I've only come across elluminate once, for my previous course, SD329. All we student participants chose to use keyboard entry only, not speech or video. Now that may simply be because none of us were familiar with the technology or the medium or (as in my case) just didn't have a microphone for my ancient PC.

Interestingly, those who chose to join the elluminate tutorials also went to the face-to-face tutorials.

I don't think anything was "because you are a man". In my experience, most students prefer face-to-face conversation, irrespective of their sex. 

SXR103 chemistry is fun (2008) :-)

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Even more interesting.... when I worked for a large sad coloured IT company some years ago, and even though video conferencing technology was available, they flew an expert in from USA to Brussels for our discussions on a particular project. The project team was about 50/50 male/female. We all preferred "proper" conversation, with thinking time, non-verbal communication, side conversations etc.

Video-conferencing is second-best, especially when working across different time zones.

Patrick Andrews

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Thanks for your comments, Jan.  Here are my responses to points you make.

There are some constraints for many courses including E852 (a Masters module on language and education).  The students are spread around the world so it is either Elluminate or asynchronous communication.

The comment about me being a man was made by students and was said in quite a lighthearted way, I think.

Turntaking is complicated and perhaps problematic in Elluminate.  I notice that sometimes when I have a meeting through Elluminate or other similar tools, participants often prefer to write as it solves the cumbersomeness of oral turntaking.  It can also have the side effect of slowing the communication down when there are too few participants.

I think Elluminate can be useful for one to one discussions but is problematic when there are larger groups and it is not so easy to go around the breakout rooms as tutors would hope. I suppose we miss the kinds of cues about what is going on that would be there in a face to face class.

SXR103 chemistry is fun (2008) :-)

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Thanks for your comments on my comments smile.

I've been an active participant in international medical self-help groups on the internet since early 2000. One of our groups has members in countries from Azerbaijan to Zambia (truly!)and in every continent except Antarctica (though one of our members was in the Falklands for a while and I think was the closest one of us has been to Antarctica). We are still using asynchronous bulletin board style of communication. It allows for timezone differences, first language differences, need to research before answering, poor internet connections and so on. I don't think elluminate or similar would answer our group communication needs but could be useful occasionally for one-to-one private conversation.

Horses for courses smile

Patrick Andrews

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Thanks for commenting, Jan.  I am interested in people's perceptions of what Elluminate can and cannot do well.  My impression is that students often value it in combination with asynchronous communication. Asynchronous communication can allow for more considered and reflective posts and that is true for the teacher just as much as the students.  However, I think there is an affective value in feeling that you are all working together at the same time.