Elluminate me !

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Multiple tools can be used in education when you want to do video conferencing and to give online courses. One of the best tools in order to accomplish that kind of things is certainly Elluminate. It is a software which enables participants to connect and interact with other people on the web. You can talk with people if you use a mic, they will be able to see you if you have a webcam or you can simply chat with them. This technology allows the teacher to give courses to students and communicate with them in a virtual classroom basically. Elluminate tools include a private chat, a teleconferencing tool,a sharing tool and a whiteboard application. Elluminate is owned by Blackboard Inc and the tool is really designed for distance education and collaboration between users which is why it is used in multiple universities such as the University of Illinois. Elluminate can  be a really useful tool for an ESL classroom and you will see why in this text.

First, the fact that Elluminate will allow your students to connect and collaborate with other students from anywhere in the world is a wonderful thing. For the purpose of an English class, I really think that when two students who take English classes communicate with Elluminate, the benefits of it are endless. First, as a teacher, I want my students to develop their competency 1 which is “To interact orally in English” and it is exactly what they will  do! They won’t prepare a text like when they do an oral presentation, so they will have to use everything that they have learned during their courses and apply it in real time with real persons. The best way to learn a language is by practicing it and that’s exactly what they will have the opportunity to do. Furthermore, the fact that a student from Quebec has a weekly conversation with a student from England for example will allow them to discover new cultures and the things that they will learn about the world will follow them all their lives. The teacher has the obligation to include in his courses cultural elements and in this case, it goes beyond describing the reality of a child in China or in England. They will have the opportunity to learn from people living there ! Ed Gragert, a writer for the Huffintonpost, even says that “research has clearly demonstrated that authentic interaction with the world’s students across the curriculum results in enhanced learning, improved reading/writing test scores by our students and a heightened motivation to learn. A recent doctoral dissertation by an official of the Delaware State Department of Education found that teachers who took an online professional development course on how to use online technologies to connect with classes internationally exuded an enthusiasm for meaningful global connections that translated directly into enhanced student motivation to learn their curriculum subjects.” As you see, learning a new culture will increase their motivation for learning English and it will also allow them to grow as a citizen of the world. As a teacher, I want my students to become efficient in English, but also to become good future citizens and Elluminate can help me reach that goal.

Secondly, Elluminate can be a wonderful tool for teaching online things that students did not understand well in class. With Elluminate, you can create a virtual classroom in which you can share online videos about some difficult things that students have to learn. It is perfect for students who learn at a lower rhythm or who have learning disabilities because they will be able to watch the videos over again and understand as much as strong students who only had to be woken during the class.  The Black Hills State University says that Elluminate “is designed for those who have learning disabilities, Elluminate’s personalized settings allow for more time to read slides and provide explanations of visual content. Sessions can be recorded and viewed as many times as needed.” There is also the fact that you can give additional help to specific students or to the whole class when something is not understood well or before an exam. You only have to ask the students to connect to the virtual classroom and they will be able to hear what you will say about the different verb tenses for example, but also by seeing what you mean because you will have the opportunity to use the whiteboard application. It will be exactly like if they were in the classroom because they will be able to ask questions and follow on the board, but they won’t have to move from their house. Elluminate is perfect for teaching students who are often sick or cannot go to school on a regular basis. The teacher can teach students like if they were face to face. Like Sara Cordell, an English professor at University of Illinois says, “Elluminate Live! is interactive and enables me to feel like I’m in the physical classroom. The students feel very free to interject their own thoughts and ideas. One of the things we’re committed to at University of Illinois at Springfield is that our online programs should replicate our on-ground programs,”. When you can use wonderful tools like Elluminate, the gap between traditional teaching or online teaching is almost inexistent.

Thirdly, Elluminate can also be used for teamworking. There is no excuse for not being able to show up for a team work when you can use Elluminate because you can show up in the comfort of your couch. Almost all computers or laptops come with a webcam and a mic now, so the material won’t be a problem. Elluminate will allow students to cooperate even more outside the classroom because it will be easier to discuss or do a project with the help of this software. The fact that students will be able improve their communication skills in English because they will have more opportunities to talk with their teammates outside the classroom (instead of sending 1000 emails that doesn’t mean nothing) is great, but they will also improve their social skills because they will have to work with people which is a thing that they will do for the rest of their lives. As a future teacher, having a technology like that one will allow me to ask my students to do more team projects instead of individual projects because when you use Elluminate, the constraint of having to go to their partner’s house or at school to complete a project is ellminated. It will be as easy to work in teams as individually. Like Matt Haley, an instructor at the University of Texas in Austin says about the utilization of Elluminate “Students can communicate with each other in private channels or with the entire room, facilitating cooperative work even though the participants may be far away from each other in physical location.” Furthermore, there is also the fact that in this virtual classroom, students will be able to post questions on the forum, questions that can be answered by the other students. The fact that a student in the same situation as another one explain him difficult concepts is even more profitable because a lot of times, they will understand faster because the vocabulary will be more accessible and new strategies will possibly be acquired. Learning is truly enhanced through the act of teaching other and  it is demonstrated in Logan Fiorella’s study about the relative benefits of learning by teaching and teaching expectancy because she says that findings suggest that “when students actually teach the content of a lesson, they develop a deeper and more persistent understanding of the material than from solely preparing to teach “. An healthy classroom is a classroom in which you find cooperation.

As you see, Elluminate is a tool with tons of benefits for students and it also helps the teacher to be more effective.

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