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Michael Sankey and Petrea Redmond discuss virtual classrooms

Michael:
Thanks for joining us again. I have with me Dr. Petrea Redmond from the Faculty of Education and she is talking with me about the use of Virtual Classrooms within our StudyDesk space. Petrea you have used virtual classrooms, we have used Wimba we will be using Blackboard collaborate they are very similar tools. Why do you use that?

Petrea:
I’ve found out that the online students sometimes miss out on the soft information that’s provided within lectures turtorials or workshops or even just within the study materials that we provide them so this enables them to gather some of that information. It also helps for them I think to hook in to feel like they are actually part of the course rather than being quite disconnected. Other students feel that it is important to do that just so they can hook in synchronously and actually talk to other students. So one of the great things is that even if they don’t have computer access they can dial in through their phone and still actually participate in these sort of synchronous activities and for alot of students I think who want the, “I have a question and I want an answer now”, this helps resolve some of those issues for them. If they know that they can have regular contact with both their peers and the lecturer.

Michael:
Now using a virtual classroom is different from recording a lecture, so how do you get them to interact in the online space?

Petrea:
I have used Virtual Classrooms in a number of ways, I have had it totally based on what the students want so they bring their questions in and respond to that. I’ve run a tutorial just like I would run in a face to face classroom with them, usually a cut down version of that. I have asked students previously to bring stuff to the table so that they have had to have done something before they come in. As you can imagine, that is not always very successful because they don’t all always do that. But even the people that don’t do the pre-homework type stuff have found it beneficial to participate in those sort of events. I think largely it’s for students to know that they’re kind of hitting the mark that they feel like they’re going along ok, that they’re not off track and their thoughts are their discussions and their assessment responses and stuff are going to be where they’d like them to be.

Michael:
Ok, and getting to learn the software did that take much? or was it fairly easy for you?

Petrea:
I think it is very easy to stick your toe in the water and get it started because really, there is a talk button that you can hit, worst case scenario on a basic level you can do that and nothing else. You can of course in most virtual classrooms there is to either import a PowerPoint or a website or use the whiteboard so there are a range of other things you can do in there and then of course in alot of virtual classrooms you can breakout rooms so students can go and talk in other rooms and then you can bring them back into a classroom just like you would in a tutorial. So it is quite easy to simulate what you would do in a face to face classroom in that online space

Michael:
Excellent, thank you. That’s great.

Petrea:
You’re welcome