‘Being There’ in Online Learning with Elluminate Live!

Engage. Empower. Enlighten. After participating in my first Elluminate Live! synchronous (in real-time) lecture two nights ago, I concur with  Blackboard Collaborates’ website (partner company) description of Elluminate Live! as engaging, empowering and enlightening.  In context of previous posts on presence in the online classroom, I definitely felt ‘there’ with 23 classmates and our professor in an Education Statistics course – right at my kitchen table. Collectively we wrote on the white board, asked questions using the ‘raise hand’ icon, and ‘chatted’, even while the prof was talking (whoops).  Sound familiar?  This live lecture experience, across three different times zones, from Canada to Florida was recorded, another worthy feature (lectures can be recorded or even pre-recorded for later viewing and/or archiving).

A screenshot of the Elluminate Live program
Image via Wikipedia

How it Works
Elluminate Live!, by definition a web conferencing tool, is similar to products such as Adobe Connect, or GoToMeeting, yet with its unique interactivity features it’s the best tool I’ve seen for lecture delivery for educational purposes. My favorite tool is the interactive whiteboard. Students can write, draw and highlight text, include pictures on the board, as can the moderator, and is visible to the class.  What if a student writes something inappropriate? The moderator has complete control over all actions and can erase content on the board, and/or freeze participation from one or more students. A handy feature. The audio capabilities are a spiffy feature as well – surprisingly the quality was very good. Instructor and Social presence, is virtually inherent.

YouTube clip which describes this amazing tool in one minute:

What’s the catch?
What are the ‘cons’? Cost came to my mind as the primary barrier – though academic licensing depends upon number of moderators and users. Not much different from any other specialty software used by educational institutions, in other words not cost prohibitive. Elluminate Live website has further details. There is also an option to try it out free for 30 days and even a free version, though this is limited to three users.

Elluminate Live!

Instructor: What’s the Learning Curve?
No user left behind, is the mantra of Elluminate Live! – meaning it’s meant to be easy to use, easy to navigate and user-friendly. I would have to agree, from a user’s perspective at least. Our prof walked us through how to use the tools and in about 10 minutes I got the gist of it. Realistically, I’m sure the learning curve for the moderator is somewhat longer,  but it seems quite intuitive.  There are many resources for learning to use Elluminate Live!, including several quick reference guides, mini sessions on Black Board Collaborate and on YouTube (just type in Elluminate Live). Given the long list of higher ed and K-12 institutions using the tool, I’d imagine the average instructor even somewhat familiar with power point, and with limited tech skills can learn to use it pretty quickly.

Integration with LMS Platforms
According to Blackboard Collaborate, this lecture tool integrates with the majority of Learning Management platforms, Blackboard (of course), Moodle, Desire2Learn and Pearson’s Learning platform. The website has further details.

Final thoughts
Elluminate Live! is an innovative tool that can enhance the online learning class environment. I want to emphasize that it is a tool that can be a tremendous vehicle to build presence, engagement and support authentic learning. Often with the introduction of new technological applications, educators put the tool first, then the learning is designed to fit the tool. We need to remember to start with the learning then select and customize the tool appropriate to the learning needs.  If interested in building further instructor presence in your course, Elluminate Live! may just be what you are looking for! Visit Elluminate Live! for details, and to view demonstrations of pre-recorded sessions.

Keep Learning 🙂

3 thoughts on “‘Being There’ in Online Learning with Elluminate Live!

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