The Digital One-Day: Identity, literacy and community in (partially) synchronous distributed learning environments

George Roberts, Rhona Sharpe, Patsy Clarke, OCSLD

In semester 2, OCSLD ran three “Digital One-Days”. These experimental workshops used “Elluminate” and Elluminate is one of a new breed of collaboration tools, allowing people to use desk-top computing, audio/video (AV), text and graphics to be simultaneously present in a virtual learning environment. Elluminate uses a classroom metaphor with presenters and a number of participants limited only by the capabilities of the network. The environment combines 2-way voice communication, a “White Board” on which “Slides” can be displayed, text chat, and a number of icon-tools such as “hand-raising”, and emoticons (smiley faces).

The topics chosen for the “One-Days”: online identity, literacies and community are all troublesome areas of knowledge and may be emerging as threshold concepts in learning and teaching in higher education. Identity, literacy and community are are foundational for understanding and influencing engagement in learning

The learning design of the One-Days combined a web-site on which the timetable, references and links were available, with the Elluminate live platform. Participants were sent “joining instructions” before the session and directed to this site. There they found pre-reading and guidelines for logging in on the day. The days were broken into two halves. The first started with a round robin to introduce participants. This was followed by a facilitator-led discussion to introduce the topic. Then participants broke out into small facilitated groups of four or five people, with topic guides. Following the break-outs, participants returned to the plenary. The second half started with a panel composed of three experts in the area, to whom, after brief presentations, questions were invited and discussion ensued. Following the panel, participants again were formed into small groups with guided discussion, and finally brought back together to a plenary.

In this session we will look directly at how a community of learning might be helped, in part, to develop through the use of distributed seminars. Colleagues in Brookes may be interested in the potential that such technologies have for maintaining contact and what the lessons are for deploying such technologies effectively for engaging students, engaging professionals and engaging the community.

This session will demonstrate the environment, reflect on the experience and invite participants to discuss the suitability of such an environment for the exploration of identity, literacy and community.

Powerpoint presentation (7.22MB)