Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Adobe Connect in the classroom

PollIt has been a while since my last post. Well, I took about three weeks off at the end of 2010, otherwise, I would have lost that vacation time. So, hopefully things are back on track now.

The Spring 2011 semester is off to a good start. As part of the "Business Continuity Plan" for K201, Adobe Connect has become a big part of the picture. Last semester I was using Connect just for Online Office Hours, but this semester all K201 faculty have embraced this Web Conferencing solution in a big way. Over the last couple of weeks, K201 instructors held several meetings using Adobe Connect, in order to gain experience and to iron out any wrinkles with enabling audio/video.

On the first day of my section, I used Connect in the classroom. It has a feature that allows the "host" to create one or more polls and solicit responses at planned times. These polls take place in real-time and the results accumulate as students click responses. At the instructor's discretion, the result summary (as shown on the right) can also be broadcast to the students, so they can see where they stand with respect to the rest of the class. This is similar to how the clickers function, except there is no separate physical device required.

I find this to be beneficial in many ways:
  • Students get to participate, instead of just listening
  • Such polls help to break the monotony
  • This gives the instructor an opportunity to measure how well the material is being understood. If the results show that most students got the answer wrong, then the topic needs to be revisited in depth.
  • Students like this better than raising their hands, because it provides some anonymity. In fact, anonymity can provide benefit in two different ways.
    1. Students feel more comfortable answering questions
    2. Since they don't know how the others are answering, it increases the chances of an honest response, instead of just attempting to be in the majority
K201 instructors are planning to use Connect in three ways:
  1. Online Office Hours
  2. In-class to ask questions in real-time
  3. On a pre-selected day, the class will meet remotely to simulate a campus closing. This will give the instructors and the students a level of comfort in meeting via a web conference, in case we get forced into the situation by some unplanned campus closing. The students have already been made aware of the fact that if there is a campus closing for any reason, the class will still be in session via this "Virtual Classroom"

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