Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Welcome to University of Illinois at Springfield Center for Teaching and Learning Elluminate Writing Workshops Blog! I created this blog initially to present at the Midwest Writing Center Conference in 2007. I want to extend the use for this blog to a broader community so that I can learn from what others are doing to provide synchronous tutoring with chat, audio, and PowerPoint (via Elluminate or other web conferencing software).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Staffing for Implementation and Assessment of Elluminate Workshops

After three months of brainstorming and experimenting with Elluminate to convert our on-ground workshops into Elluminate sessions, we decided to launch our "first ever" series of Elluminate workshops in for the Spring 2007 semester. Offering the Elluminate workshops involved many time-consuming steps. To complete each step in ease and effectiveness, we decided to limit steps to three staff members. See the separation of individual steps below.

Writing Teaching Assistant (TA)
  • managing student Elluminate registrations

Elluminate instructor (one of the TAs or myself)

  • converting materials and workshop procedures
  • practicing
  • teaching
  • recording workshop absentees and attendees

Writing Specialist (me)

  • scheduling Elluminate workshop series
  • advertising Elluminate workshop series
  • emailing follow-up absentee questionnaire
  • emailing attendees online feedback survey
  • analysing questionnaire and survey data

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Implementation: How We Conduct Elluminate Workshops

Our first semester workshop series included 8 workshops. For every on-ground workshop topic we offered, we additionally offered the same workshop topic online (workshop topics). The main differences between the on-ground and Elluminate workshops were 1) students registered for the Elluminate workshops and 2) Elluminate sessions required Internet access, system requirements for Elluminate (minimum system requirements), and computer speakers. The format of the on-ground and online workshops remained the same. In the one-hour workshop, the instructor taught a brief lesson about the workshop topic using PowerPoint slides. Then, the students applied what they learned about the topic through preplanned practice exercises.

Ellminate Workshop Procedure:
  1. Moderator (workshop instructor) introduces him/herself, workshop title, and CTL
  2. Moderator tests the participants through the Elluminate microphone (optional), speaker, and orients the participants with various tools in Elluminate
  3. Participants introduce themselves
  4. Moderator teaches workshop topic using PowerPoint slides
  5. Participants interrupt with questions and comments; if no participants interject with questions, the moderator will call on participants by name to stimulate their engagement in the topic
  6. Moderator introduces practice exercises in Public Screen
  7. Participants complete practice exercises individually
  8. Moderator opens the session for additional questions
  9. Moderator sends participants workshop feedback survey

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Assessment: Data for Evaluating Workshop and Collecting Particpant Information

Evaluating workshop sessions and collecting information about the participants who attend the Elluminate sessions are keys to providing an effective service. The survey data from the first semester Elluminate workshop series during the spring 2007 semester was overall very positive. The survey included the following questions:
  1. How would you rate this workshop on a scale from 1-5 (1 is lowest and 5 is highest)?
  2. What is your major?
  3. What is your class?
  4. How did you find out about this workshop?
  5. Would you like to join our CTL-write listserv?
  6. What time of day would you prefer to attend our workshops?
  7. What day of the week would you prefer to attend our workshops?
  8. What other writing workshops would you like to attend?
  9. What additional comments do you want to share with us?

Of the 78 attendees, 43 students completed the online survey. See data from questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 9:

Question 1: Rating

  • Rating 5 = 15 students
  • Rating 4 = 12 students
  • Rating 3 = 12 students

Question 2: Students from 11 different majors (Bus Admin, CLS, ENG, CHE, COM, CRJ, PSY, Soc/Anthro, LES, LIS, and BIO)

Question 3: Class

  • Freshman = 34
  • Sophomore = 1
  • Junior = 5
  • Senior = 2
  • Graduate = 1

Question 4: Thirty-two students found the advertisement for their workshop in their student email.

Question 5: Thirty-four students wanted to join our CTL-write listserv.

Question 9: Comments about workshop -

  • This workshop helped me to brainstorm my essay better.
  • I think the CTL Writing Workshops are a big asset to have on campus.
  • I liked the online workshop a lot. I hope there are more like it.
  • I had a fun time during the online workshop, which proved to be very helpful in helping me understand the topics covered.
  • The workshops I've attended so far have been informative and served as good refreshers for a lot of different areas of writing and studying.
  • Very helpful workshop; I learned a lot.
  • Today was my first day attending an online class. I loved it! Would love to do it again. Jen, our instructor, was very informative and helpful. Thanks!
  • I really enjoyed the online workshop; it is not as time consuming as a classroom workshop and it is very convenient.
  • I really enjoyed the online workshop. I can say I pay more attention to the online workshops than the classroom workshops.
  • I REALLY enjoy the online workshops. They are awesome!
  • I really enjoyed this workshop and I learned a lot about APA and MLA, and the differences between them.
  • I think the workshop went very well and the participation of everyone was good too!
  • I believe the workshops are very helpful to me because I have learned so much.
  • The online workshop helped me the most because it worked better with my schedule.

Recording Live Elluminate Session

Each Elluminate Moderator records their Elluminate workshop. Then, I receive a link of the recording in my university email. For example, we recently recorded our Active/Passive Voice Elluminate workshop.

Watch the workshop recording here.

After viewing the workshop recording, you will find that:

  • voices are distorted in the recording
  • pauses of silence due to communication through the chat box
  • viewers don't see the tool menus
  • recording picks up background noises when the microphone is "on"
  • moderator thanks students for their responses
  • moderator stops instruction when students have questions
  • when students use their microphones, the session is more "real" (15 minutes into the recording)
  • practice session engages the students ( 15 minutes into the recording)
  • students create and analyze their sentences in the public screen
  • at the end of the session, students can complete the online survey in the Elluminate screen or in their own browser

Additional Elluminate 7.0 Resources:

Virtual Classroom Technologies - Elluminate and many more!

Last Fall 2005, our writing staff decided to begin brainstorming new ways to teach our workshops to students. We contacted our Online Technology-Enhanced Learning (OTEL) department to learn more about converting our on-ground workshop material to an online format. OTEL suggested that we use Elluminate web conferencing software to create a synchronous learning environment similar to the on-ground learning environment. Their suggestion for using Elluminate seemed like the best solution because our campus already held licencing agreements with Elluminate. Thus, we chose Elluminate with no further questions. We knew that we could find software support for our students through our campus' OTEL department and this service parallelled to the on-ground service in learning environments and free access.

To compare Elluminate with other virtual classroom technologies, I suggest beginning with the following technologies (vendor listing):

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Online Workshops at Other Universities

Do other universities offer online workshops? Yes, of course they do, but they usually offer them in various formats. I had trouble finding other state universities who offer free Elluminate writing workshops through their writing center. If you know of others, please share.

Universities who offer online writing workshops:

Research about online tutoring: