Collaboration in the Virtual Classroom: A Case Study

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Agenda. Why Require Collaboration?Why a WebQuest?WebQuest: Authentic Learning ActivityBluefish Media Web Design WebQuestIntroducing Students to Elluminate Virtual ClassroomStudent Group Leader OrientationScheduling Group MeetingsVirtual Classroom MonitoringStudent ReactionsIdeas for the fut

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Collaboration in the Virtual Classroom: A Case Study

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1. Collaboration in the Virtual Classroom: A Case Study February 26, 2008 Terry Morris, Associate Professor William Rainey Harper College [email protected] 1

2. Agenda Why Require Collaboration? Why a WebQuest? WebQuest: Authentic Learning Activity Bluefish Media Web Design WebQuest Introducing Students to Elluminate Virtual Classroom Student Group Leader Orientation Scheduling Group Meetings Virtual Classroom Monitoring Student Reactions Ideas for the future Elluminate Resources References 2

3. Why Require Collaboration? Using a variety of instructional methods “introduces an element of unpredictability and novelty into the classroom” – keeping students engaged (Grasha, 2002, p. 216). Madden (1993) suggested that the activities in a quality online course be varied in nature. Small group activities can provide engaging and interactive experiences for learners (Watkins, 2005) Broadbent (2006) stated “in an engaged learning environment, learners are required to perform at the higher levels of thinking in Bloom’s taxonomy, which are application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluate (p. 25). Palloff and Pratt suggested that online instructors “promote collaborative group learning through group assignments, case studies, simulations, and group discussions of readings” (2001, p. 36). 3

4. Why a WebQuest? “an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners interact with comes from resources on the internet” (Dodge, 1997, para. 2). WebQuest Portal: WebQuest Components: Introduction Task Process Evaluation Conclusion 4

5. WebQuest: Authentic Learning A WebQuest meets criteria of an authentic learning activity: Relevant, Requires collaboration Requires using a variety of resources Includes complex tasks that are completed over a period of time Provides for a diversity of outcomes (Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver, 2002). 5

6. BlueFish Media Web Design WebQuest Goal: Provide an authentic, interactive, and collaborative activity in which learners will work together to describe, recognize, and implement web design best practices. Groups: Four students each with an assigned role: Fearless Leader, PixelMeister, DesignGuru, TextMaster Students communicate with their “client” by e-mail Simulates real-world experience on a web design team 6

7. Introducing Students to the Elluminate Virtual Classroom (1) Conduct Elluminate Virtual Classroom Session Provide a synchronous opportunity for students to ask questions and discuss the WebQuest activity Demonstrate the use of Elluminate Hand-out: Elluminate Participant Reference URL: Within Elluminate: display orientation slides 7

8. Introducing Students to the Elluminate Virtual Classroom (2) During session: Surprise! Members of one student group spontaneously asked if they could use Elluminate for virtual “meetings”. Request enthusiastically granted! Observation: Only one out of three students groups in this web development information technology course expressed interest in using Elluminate. Even with technology-savvy people there is sometimes a fear of trying new software. 8

9. Student Group Leader Orientation Sent student group leader e-mail with Moderator Quick Reference Guide Moderator Training Materials: This was inadequate – Student had many questions later The best “training: is to actually practice moderating. 9

10. Scheduling Meetings Issues: Limited number of seats available for the Elluminate virtual classroom at any one time. Scheduling needs to be in advance Procedure: Require two business day notice of meeting request Check college schedule and, if available, request meeting seats Receive confirmation E-mail student the moderator link and participant links 10

11. Virtual Classroom Monitoring Instructor attended beginning of first group meeting All sessions were archived and reviewed by instructor Observed the organization of the students as they worked together: 1st session: students unorganized, spent a lot of time trying out the technology, eventually tasks assigned 2nd session: students prepared for meeting ahead of time and discussed what they had done 3rd session: students very well organized, productive meeting 11

12. Student Reactions (1) What I liked about using the Virtual Classroom was you were able to verbally communicate with others in your group and share your ideas with them. I also liked the whiteboard and desktop sharing because we could visually show what we were talking about or working on. I believe we all had a good experience with it ... I would definitely recommend this to others because it helps to communicate with others when you can't see them everyday. My favorite part about of the virtual classroom is the ability to go live with team members, keeping the creative flow going and using the whiteboard to collaborate on the layout. It would have taken much longer to get to the same place using just the blackboard messages. 12

13. Student Reactions (2) Question: At what point in the WebQuest did you feel most engaged with what was happening? Answer: It was (I believe) our 2nd Elluminate session. We figured out how to use the whiteboard to share our ideas and it really felt like we were being very productive as a group. It was comforting to actually talk with the group and not just read other's messages in a discussion board. 13

14. Student Reactions (3) Question: What action that anyone (teacher or student) took during the WebQuest did you find most affirming and helpful? Answer: When we were using the virtual classroom the first time, my teammates mutual encouragement and support was very affirming and helpful. At no time was there criticism, everyone just stepped up and did what was necessary to keep the project moving toward successful completion. During the Page Layout process, our TextMaster really took it on himself to put … content very quickly to get us rolling. Also, our Fearless Leader really took the reigns and always made sure we were on track. He also coordinated all of our Elluminate sessions, which were extremely helpful. 14

15. Student Reactions (4) Question: What about the WebQuest surprised you the most? Answer: I found that sharing visual ideas is difficult to express through a typical discussion board. Our team overcame this challenge by using the virtual classroom and sharing files. I was impressed how easily our team collaborated with the ideas put forth by one another. 15

16. Ideas for the Future… Continue to hold optional Elluminate virtual classroom course “kick-off” sessions Schedule additional Elluminate virtual classroom sessions before the WebQuest begins Schedule an Elluminate classroom session with student group leaders to practice using the moderator’s tools -- include tips on conducting productive meetings Suggest to small groups that they obtain a free Elluminate Vroom ( Advantage: no need for instructor scheduling involvement 16

17. Elluminate Resources Moderator Training Materials Participant Training Materials Orientation Slides 17

18. References Broadbent, B. (2002). ABCs of e-learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. Dodge, B. (1997). WebQuests. Retrieved March 13, 2007, from San Diego State University Web site: Grasha, A. F. (2002). Teaching with style. San Bernadino, CA: Alliance. (Original work published 1996) Retrieved March 10, 2007, from Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2001). Lessons from the cyberspace classroom: The realities of online teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Madden, D. (1999). 17 elements of good online courses. Retrieved March 5, 2007, from Honolulu Community College Web site: Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic activities and online learning. In HERDSA 2002. Retrieved February 10, 2007, from Northcentral University, ELT7003 Resources Web site: Watkins, R. (2005). 75 e-learning activities: Making online learning interactive. San Francisco: Pfieffer. 18

19. What's Next? Reflect about how you can apply this to your own online courses and teaching… How can a virtual classroom help your students to collaborate in groups? 19

20. Questions? Comments? Send your comments or questions to: Terry Morris, Associate Professor William Rainey Harper College [email protected] 20

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