a study into the use of
online voice tools
(conducted as part of the Flexible Learning Leaders program, 2003)

(image courtesy of Steve Fisher)




Voice Chat Live Sessions


Event Summary: Using Voice Chat as an Instructional Tool - June 6th

About 10 people turned up for a voice chat today (June 6th) on the use of
Voice Chat as an Instructional Tool. Despite the fact that the facilitator
(yours truly) was thrown out of the chat at regular intervals the
conversation flowed. We didn't get through anywhere near as much as I'd
hoped but that was a good lesson learned. It is important to allow input
from others and that of course eats into 'presentation time'. Perhaps it is
important in a bare voice chat (no talking heads or graphic stimulus of any
kind) to allow opportunities for interaction more than you might in a f2f

Susanne took the initiative and summarized the spoken conversation in the
text chat, and many of us confessed to multitasking behind the scenes! We
asked whether or not this is an acceptable thing for students to be doing
while they are listening to a remote presenter&..is it? What do you think?
Aiden asked how a teacher is supposed to keep 23 students focused on a
voice lecturein the absence of any visual stimulation? My personal feeling
is that students in such situations should be left alone to multitask of
they want, but it was suggested that this kind of event would be better
staged in a virtual classroom with graphics, polling, and other interactive
features. But of course there is a substantial cost for that type of
software. This led to a discussion on whether or not there should be a
level of public funding to subsidise the purchase of these higher end tools

We also talked about the fact that we have all become very dependent on
saved logs or archives of text based web events, and that few voice chat
tools as yet allow the facility to record conversations. As Susanne notes
in her blog, we have gone back to where we came from taking written notes
on the important points from a voice presentation. So,

  • Is it OK for people to multitask while they are listening to a remote
  • How do you (or should you) keep 23 students focused on a voice
    lecturein the absence of any visual stimulation?
  • Should there be a level of public funding to subsidise the purchase
    of these higher end tools such as virtual classrooms?

From Damian:

First of all I wish to thank Michael for organising the voice chat event on Friday. I also wish to apologise for not being able to attend the whole time, as I had to participate in the end-of-term exams of my school.

To me the experience was great primarily because I had the chance to come in contact with so many colleagues and friends, and as I am so keen on socialising that was a chance I wouldn't miss for the world.

Coming to the use of voice chat as an instructional tool, I can comment only from the standpoint of a (junior) high school teacher of English as a foreign language. I believe that it is an invaluable tool from many aspects.

First of all, I believe voice chat has the power to demolish the confines of the conventional classroom and offer my students and me the chance to make language learning and teaching a whole day experience. This is reflected in the connection sensor by Yahoo! (the one which shows whether I am online or not) which is installed on every page of my site The Virtual English Classroom (http://users.otenet.gr/~damker) ; it has not been used yet, mind you, it's just a study on the construction of such a site.) Being able to see if I am online, my students always have the chance to contact me via voice chat (or text chat if they wish).
Another asset of voice chat can be the fact that students in groups or even the whole class can use it in order to organise activities in relation to the carrying out of various collaborative ventures, like group assignments, webquests, research on the Internet for simultaneous viewing and work on sites.

I believe that voice chat must (I have never conducted any research on the matter, but I hope I will have the chance to) increase the feeling of "connectedness" among the members of a learning community, like a high school class, in combination with the use of a class site as a point of reference, like the one quoted earlier in this post. But now let me introduce a different aspect this tool.

Ann Deng, a 10-year-old girl from China, taught me another use of voice chat: a voice "chat room" can be used as a practice tool by the students themselves. Here's what they can do: they use a voice chat facility, like the ones offered by Yahoo! Messenger or PalTalk( both my favourites), to start a room with an attractive and informative title, like say... "Elementary English Practice", or "Let's talk in English" or such things. When the room is opened they stay there lurking for visitors, pretty much the same way an octopus does for its prey. When a visitor shows up, they welcome them and try to start a conversation in order to see if the visitor is a suitable one for their purpose, namely to practice their English. Here, we have an interplay of linguistic competence and sociolinguistic deftness (as they have to lure the visitor and make their room interesting and attractive). As time goes by, the visitors may increase and the room may change into an "agora" (the market place of Ancient Athens where all state discussions took place) for the benefit not only of the initial lurking student, who can practice speaking and listening, but also for the benefit of a wider audience.
Imagine this scenario as an assignment now: the teacher assigns a group of students to start a room like this in order to practice speaking and listening. The room will have to be opened at a specific time and the teacher logs on as an unidentified visitor as well, after they see that some visitors have logged on already (PalTalk has this facility and iVisit, I think). The teacher saves the text chat session and makes an audio recording of the whole procedure (an audio recording can be made either by using appropriate software or simply by connecting a cassette recorder to the earphones jack of your computer's speakers). How could this material be utilised, besides students' assessment? Interesting material could be presented in subsequent face to face sessions of the class, and the students critically analyse the whole procedure commenting on errors and deciding on aspects of their speech which have to be ameliorated.

Don't you think that this use of voice chat would give the students incentives to practice? Can you imagine the atmosphere in the classroom during the face to face evaluation of the recorded material? There will be hilarity, but the objective will have been achieved and the students will be looking forward to their next speaking safari on the Net.

From Susanne:

Yesterday morning at 7 am my time, I had the pleasure of joining the voice chat here, invited by Michael. I have already shared my first impressions in the collaborative learning blog (link from the left menu when you scroll back to the top of this page).
After I have read the ongoing discussion here, I wish to share a few thoughts as a person whose online voice has just been awakened from the mute. Michael has got a point: text chat with many participants will have multiple threads and can be a challenge - whereas the voice chat is linear, as only one person can have the microphone. I agree upon linearity regarding time, still I would expect some utterings to refer back to earlier, especially when the group is larger, just like it may happen in face to face situations. There, I still am so attached to the "traditional" text chat that I miss the facility to scroll back in the chatlog and see what was said earlier in a discussion.

And, just like Dafne, I need visual clues to keep my mind from wandering. For that reason I think, but also because the sound connection was on-and-off for some of the participants, I have tried to resume in the text chat what was said, and once it will become save-able, we may find ways and habits to combine the best of both communication modes.

Like Dafne I was disappointed some days ago when we tried to improvise a voice chat with her students, because we had so many technical troubles. And once we decided to stop the voice problems and use text chat only, we experienced how these students had become pretty fluent using text chat, compared to their first experience with this - wherewe did striggle a great deal indeed to get them all into the same chat conference in Yahoo Messenger, and to take away their first anxiety. And, this was their fourth online session - where our discussion level was pretty independent reflections. What does this show us: Again, the affordance of having multiple strategies; when one chat tool is not working smootly, we can try another. These communication channels are still under development, still in beta versions, and we, as users are also developing our ways of acting, scaffolding and moderating together.
What is amazing to me is how many invitations are roundsent to participate in this session, and join that activity from people all over the world of online community building in education. The pioneer spirit of volunteerism and helpfulness has made it possible for a lot of people to develop personal and shared strategies and knowledge in this field of education innovation.

From Kaye Blackburn:

I am very new to the online learning arena but am interested in 'voice
chat' as a medium. I appreciated the experience but I'm not sure that I would use voice chat in teaching just yet.

But I feel it has great application to 'older' people - that is those
who are newish to computing and don't have typing skills. Eg my parents
The Wimba tool's typing section was too small to support the voice - for
when voice was less than perfect. I liked the list of names that
appeared when people with spoke or typed - this identified who was

Re your facilitation - I think you managed very well especially for the
number of people you had on line.

Event Summary: Using Voice Chat with eVenture LearnScope Team (June 11th)

(Go to http://www.prof2000.pt/users/mfr/wia/chat/chat_june11.html for screen grabs of this session, and hear a recording of this chat recorded by Fernanda Rodrigues using Total Recorder)

First off - thank you once again to all those Webheads who showed up today
to assist the people in my workshop in their first experience with voice
chat. Susanne, Dafne, Fernanda, Aiden, Damian, Anne, and Georgina all took
part. We met in Yahoo, and then migrated to Wimba.

On my side, on the ground in the workshop, everything was almost seemless,
but we were fortunate enough to be on broadband. Most importantly, the
participants in my workshop were enthralled and went away full of
enthusiasm at the possibilities of it all.

I hadn't done this kind of presentation before - getting everyone in the
workshop logged in and actually talking. I am usually sitting at my desk
at home joining events organised by others, and it was exhilarating and
taxing. It's quite some task trying to make sure everyone in the workshop
is managing, and keeping an eye out for what's happening online. For
example, I kind of lost Fernanda in the rush in Yahoo, but she managed to
find her way to Wimba and met us there. (Sorry Fernanda!) I found myself
thinking how good Vance is when he leads such events at conferences, and I
now have a much better appreciation of the pressure you work under when you
host events like these.

Anne - fantastic to hear that two of your students were enticed to join the
Wimba chat. (see Anne's thoughts below)

Thanks again to those who took part. Sometimes it's hard to gauge the
success of such sessions, but today's was a big hit and you could just feel
the impact it had on those doing voice chat for the first time. The long
term value of Webheads' voluntary participation in these events is

On reflection, today was a perfect example of exactly what I envisage
future classrooms can be like. A group of students in a classroom talking
to people from around the world. I wish some IT managers could have been
present to see what can happen when there are no firewalls!

From Anne Fox:

I hadn't planned on joining the chat with Michael this morning but
Sus paged me on Yahoo when I logged in at work so I went.

My situation isn't ideal for shy language learners, we are in a room
with other students doing IT stuff and all my students are very
transient, 6 weeks is the norm. The amazing thing is that Sus and the
others in the chat room persuaded two of my students to join in. I
think they are sometimes unwilling to perform in front of me because
I'm a native speaker so while there are many who (rightly or wrongly)
would pay extra for a native speaker, here I get the impression that
I am at a positive disadvantage in some cases because of it.

The technology worked seamlessly for us and Sus very kindly stayed on
to talk to Ole (I only have 3 language students at the moment)who
really opened up. It was great to watch. Thank you so much Sus and
let's just for a moment forget the slight inconsistency involved in
two Danish speakers speaking English together!

What happened? Was it the technology which prompted Ole to talk? Or
was it more that he is a complete beginner as regards use of the
keyboard so speaking was much more convenient for him than text

see http://www.prof2000.pt/users/mfr/wia/chat/chat_june11.html for screen grabs of this session (kindly posted by Fernanda Rodrigues)

From Susanne Nyrop:

Hi Fernanda, Anne, Daf, Aiden, Damian, Michael - and all the Australian and
Danish participants in todays' Wimba chat session,

I just had the pleasure to listen to the excellent recording , first part.
Thanks to Fernanda for doing this important pioneer job, we really have been
looking for how to store and rerun the voice session somehow, and the file,
once downloaded to my computer in a temporary file folder, opened nicely in
Winamp and started playing right ahead. The screendumps of our text chat
shows now it can complement the spoken communication.

After we met with Michael's class in a fine session, Anne was not sure if
she could engage her students in speaking - but Ole was willing to give it
a try, and I enjoyed a long and amazing chat with this guy who told me about
his life, and opposite to the Australians who live at the other end of the
world, Ole and I had some local Danish references in common because we
discovered that we were brought up in the same location - and he has been
working as a forest man or logger, nearby where I live today. We also
talked about our families, and the actual situation of increasing
unemployment in our country and elsewhere.

As Anne mentioned it is a little bit fun that two Danes should speak
together in English, but it did feel OK, and I even had to promise Ole to
meet and voice chat again tomorrow. Even though I was able to hear now and
then how he was searching for the right words, he was easy for me to
understand. This guy is not used to a keyboard, and he has a seven year
school background - so probably it is much easier to use voice than text. I
will ask hím about this tomorrow.

Well, all of this is timetaking but also extremely interesting and I feel I
learn new aspects of online community building these days!

August 1st - Student Services LearnScope team

Port Adelaide campus; Friday afternoon; spoke briefly on the role of technology in enhancing online community, and then trialled the Wimba voice chat and email tools within the LearningTimes environment. We learnt with great delight that these tools worked through the TAFE SA firewall (shhh...don't tell anyone!). Janet moved back to MindMedia and was able to continue communiating with us back in the computer room. Curiously, even though we (about 6 of us) were all in the same room, the time delay between each PC receiving Janet's audio was significant and caused an echoing effect around the room. It demonstrated clearly that if there is more than one pc receiving the audio in the same room participants would need headsets to offset this echo effect.

Outcome: some days later this same team held an online meeting in this room, and has made extensive use of voice email. DMI and Regency and AIT are able to use these tools through the firewall. Onkaparinga cannot. See Claire White's feedback on this below.

Aug 7th - Voice Chat Feedback from Claire White

Like text chat I find it frustrating keeping people on track or keeping up with cross conversations and, like text chat, I think a set agenda would be a good option to do that. Live chat has advantages, however, over text chat - I don't have to expose my terrible typing skills (just my terrible speaking skills?). Maybe someday someone will overcome the disadvantage of not having a transcript of the conversation - in the interim could someone set up a cassette recorder near the computer - would that work?

I see the potential of this technology to enhance our library service. Many libraries are offering a reference service by phone, email or text chat - you phone or email in - ask your question and the library replies with suggested resources to find the answer. How good would this be to add to that process?- you would get the inflection of the person's voice, you could easily ask further questions to clarify the request and if there are technical problems eg seeing the website that you are suggesting, they may be able to be resolved on the spot by talking through what you are seeing your end or what icon to click - much easier than writing it out!

Anyway, I like it better than text chat and if we can resolve the problem of recording decisons etc I think this is a great way to go!
WOW - it's off the scale on the Wow factor)

August 16th - Meeting with Staff from Challenger TAFE

organised by Sue (Fishgirl) Hickton; spent 20 minutes talking to staff on the possibilities of voice online using the Voice Direct room at LearningTimes. About 10 staff logged in. We decided on 1 way audio as the audio out of Challenger was accompanied by high pitched feedback. I therefore hogged the mic, but paused every few minutes to give people on the other end time to reflect and ask questions in the text chat. Initially shy, people did eventually start posing questions via text chat, but because of the paucity of communication back to me it was very hard to assess what impact I was having at their end.

- feedback from from Sue Hickton:

It was brilliant actually! We had a few tech difficulties to begin with, but got most of them sorted!! Trust me, it may have felt like a vacuum, but at our end they were very excited and had a heap of questions!! Unfortunately it seemed that only a few keyboards were responding in the 'text chat'.

I think quite a few of the lecturers are interested in actually using this in some form in some of their classes!! Apart from all the little probs, it was still very exciting!! A look of incredulity on the faces of several people!!!

And more:

"I organised an online "audio conference" with Michael Coghlan in Adelaide and a group of 14 Challenger TAFE staff in Fremantle last week. ....it was a wicked experience!! We managed to carry this out....believe it or not over the student network!! ...Being on the student network, I thought that it would be a nightmare. The only thing I had to do to get it to work was change the computer settings to accept all cookies (i.e. lowest level of security) and this was acceptable..."

August 22 - The New Mutltimedia - Putting LTAs to Work (session at eLearning Conference in Hobart)


From Alan Carrington (on the ground host)

ABOUT THE ACTUAL PRESENTATION: There were about 58 people in the room and all of them actively engaged in the process. Some of them quite excited about the possibilities. The internet was certainly flaky but OK. Thechipmunk effect kept everyone smiling but didn't interfere with the learning.

.....the head of eMagine (Tasmanian Dept of Education department that hosted the event) was very pleased with our presentation. She joked about "today we have disturbed a sleeping giant" as people from about 14 schools had approached her after the event and asked how could they use this technology
in Tasmania.

(my notes still to come)

August 28th - Introduction to Voice Online Workshop

About 20 people - 10 in the room with me at Tea Tree Gully (a LearnScope team), 4 webheads, a few from LearningTimes, and one FLL. Tool: Wimba Voice Direct chat in LearningTimes.

We then tried Wimba Voice Board and Mail tools.

Interest in the session was high; some of the in-room participants were from a trade background and were clearly interested in exploring the application of these tools further.

The Wimba tools performed beautifully from behind the TAFE SA firewall.

An interesting hiccup: at one point one person forgot she was 'holding the mic' so for several minutes we could only just sit and listen to her talking to her husband. We were unable to get her attention via the text chat, and so I suggested we leave the chat until she released the mic. It did raise an interesting ethical issue - should we continue to this private conversation?

From the person concerned:

.....sorry for hogging the mic the othernight--there should be a gong for people like me who don't realize their turn has come up while they were looking away! Or maybe an active key that you can click to start speaking, rather than just having the mic go on as the default.

My response:

Many voice chats already have this - when you release the 'active' key your microphone turns off. But Wimba at this stage does not work like this. It was an interesting situation - there was nothing any of us could do! If I was in the US I would have called you, but as it was all we could do was wait. But it was nice to hear Jack's voice in the background!

Feedback on this session from Cheryl Priest (Office Admin):

This was a great session and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't believe that we were conversing with people from all over the world and that we had the option of written and verbal communication in the session. It certainly motivated the grey cells. I believe this would be a wonderful tool to use for distance students and for all online students.

In the office administration awards there is strong focus on team skills which is hard to arrange for external students. This would be an innovative way to bring students together for all team projects and pressentations.

This delivery method is only as good as those who implement it and I think that more workshops, for those who want to integrate it into their teaching methods, would be the first step. Facilitators need to be confident when using this tool.

September 9th - presentation at Association for Learning Technologies (ALT) Conference, Sheffield, UK, 9/9/03; Online Conferencing - the next generation?)


Videoconferencing is often dismissed as old technology, of limited value in higher education, whereas text-based conferencing is fast becoming synonymous with e-learning. Laurillard's taxonomy of media classifies video-conferencing as an essentially presentational medium, confirming its status as an old technology belonging to an era of teacher-centric pedagogy. But new IP standards and falling costs are opening up the potential for multimedia-rich shared-learning environments based on videoconferencing integrated with desktop applications. Most online learning is currently supported via asynchronous text-based email and conferencing for reasons of cost and bandwidth limitation rather than pedagogical advantage. The experiments reported in this presentation, however, show that even relatively low-grade internet access is now capable of more than this, and that IP-based video-conferencing environment can effectively support 'adaptive' and 'productive' interactions as well as the merely 'communicative'. The presentation will illustrate the integration of audio, video, and text-based conferencing in study programmes at De Montfort University, UK and Athabasca University in Canada. The session will be transmitted via internet audio to students and staff at both universities, who will illustrate the cost-effectiveness of online multimedia conferencing by their live participation in the session. The proliferation of software products for online conferencing, and the results of evaluation studies by graduate students in Athabasca's Masters in Distance Education programme, will be highlighted. The virtual reality classrooms described are a possible precursor to how the online environment will look in future. Educators in Europe and North America are taking quite different approaches to online conferencing, owing largely to the different time-zone problems that confront them. The session will consider ways in which educators around the world can learn from one another by practising what they preach - that is, using online conferencing techniques to discover the best practices for their use.


  • Stephen Brown (Professor of Learning Technologies, De Montfort University, UK)
  • Jon Baggaley (Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University, Canada)
  • Barabara Heins (Open University, UK)

Stephen Brown

Jon Baggaley

Stephen was our on the ground host in Sheffield. Jon, Barbara, and myself presented remotely from our respective locations. The remarkable thing about this presentation was that we used the free Yahoo Instant Messenger voice tool, and it went without a hitch for the hour (with me on a dial up connection). (my simple presentation page HERE )


Stephen.... received good reviews about the session, including the comment that it was good to see presenters tackling a bold and innovative idea. (Group) participation made the event a true 'symposium'....

Clarification of terms:

I asked, "what is meant by 'IP-based video-conferencing environment can effectively support 'adaptive' and 'productive' interactions as well as the merely 'communicative'? (from the session abstract) I'm not sure what you mean by 'adaptive' and 'productive' interactions.

Stephen responded:

I was using the terms as defined by Laurillard (2002) Rethinking University Teaching. Ie. communicative media allow the participants to communicate with each other, adaptive media allow learners to interact with learning material in an exploratory way (not mere page turning) and productive media allow learners to synthesise something new. So although old fashioned ISDN video conferencing could be used for all sorts of things traditionally it has been used primarily for delivering lectures...essentially a communication task. You can get ISDN videoconf. participants to perform activities with paper, pens, video cameras, PCs etc. but this is bringing in other media. Because IP VC can be integrated with the rest of the PC desktop it is easy to incorporate adaptive activities such as "try out this simulation and see if you can make it do X" or productive activities such as "create a spreadsheet to demonstrate X using the data fronm the following table..." So the fundamental point was: desktop IP VC is significantly different from studio or stand alone ISDN VC and Laurillard's framework gives us a useful way of conceptualising and building on the differences.

September 11th - Demonstration to CALS Staff:

Should Online Voice Interactions be part of Instructional Design?

About 12 staff attended a demonstration of the various tools within the Learning Times site. The ubiquitous (and very generous) JF joined us from NY. I used my laptop over dial up because recent security upgrades to the TAFE network as a result of the recent rash of virus scares have made it impossible to get Elluminate through the firewall at AIT. (Still possible at DMIT however - shhh!) The Wimba tools still get through the upgraded security - bravo Wimba.

Those who attended (Instructional and Graphic Designers) were clearly unmoved to begin with but as JF proceeded to demo the features of Elluminate and engage people with his infectious online persona people clearly started to consider the potential of such tools. Very successful session in the end. Ann D floated the idea of students having access to a virtual classroom after hours - value adding to existing delivery.

Follow Up - I need to write a proposal on why TAFE SA, or individual institutes, should purchase a virtual classroom tool next year, outlining benefits to students and potential new markets.

September 24th - Voice to Taiwan: a Failure?

From Dafne Gonzalez:

I ... went to my room where I waited for my 7 students. Happily, I saw how they, one by one, incorportated to the session. So far so good.

I tried to communicate with the students using the voice feature, and did not get any response. Then I used the text-chat applet and it seems they were not paying attention to the litte window. They tried to speak but I could not hear them. I could not communicate with Aiden (the teacher) because in order to have a better connection she did not open Yahoo Messenger.

Well, to make this long story short, I decided to start the class using text-chat only. We were supposed to share stories about relationships. Fortunately, I had prepared a web page with my story in the form of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise using the vocabulary they were supposed to have learned for the unit. I showed the url, and they started to work. That's when Andy, from Alado came and told me everybody was having the same problem. (in the other 2 rooms) I could hear Andy fine, he could hear me, and Fernanda who was there with me was able to use the voice feature too.

Well, once it was decided that the only way to carry on was through text chat everything went fine, and all the students had the opportunity to share their stories, ask questions to each other, make comments and one or two hilarious remarks, too.

This shows us we should always have a card under our sleeve when technology is concerned. Students' motivation was great, and if they were disappointed it did not show, they interacted with each other, were attentive to the stories and, in sum, it was a another learning experience for me!!

My comment:

....apart from having a webpage to fall back on (I didn't) my experience was virtually identical. It was a productive learning experience that the students *seemed* to enjoy despite the frustrations presented by the technology.

Lessons learned:

  • do pre-checks of all tools to be used
  • run pre-check of bandwidth speed
  • have only one voice application open at a time
  • have back-up procedures in place

Further debrief/recordings at http://www.geocities.com/yehsy0304/nkfust/listening/passages2/chat.html

September 26th - eDay Session (in LT: Voice Direct, Voice Board, Elluminate)

My thoughts: It felt a bit crowded and cramped for me and I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't able to involve others (remote and physically present) more. JF's demo'ing of vClass was great as usual - made me realise that I should stop relying on others to demo Elluminate's features, and learn it me bloody self!

I need to sign up for training sessions. I have been focusing on coordinating events rather than learning the webcasting skills.

I think it's also enough of these 'unplanned' demos where I am unclear about the direction of the session. The next one at the conference in late October will need to be a much more structured affair.

Today's session was fine. People enjoyed it. I think I just missed an opportunity to raise the bar a little. I've gotten quite comfortable hosting sessions like this - and that is a useful set of skills I know - but it's time to extend the boundaries of this type of presentation.

October 2nd - Meeting with Webhead Anne Fox's Students in Denmark

Class home - http://streetlife.homestead.com/Chatrooms.html This chat session used Wimba Voice Direct, and was part of a 5 week unit on Street Life.

My comments: I just has a wonderful experience with two of Anne's students. After initial (and the usual!) tech hassles, I had an absorbing conversation with Mette and Morten. We spent a lot of time straying off topic but overall it was a great example of how classrooms can link to the world. The two students handled the voice interactions with great poise, asked a lot of questions about life in Australia, and answered mine about Denmark. I had intended to limit the chat to one hour but I was so engaged in the conversation I let it run for quite a bit longer. I was a bit surprised by Anne's decision to allocate just 2 students to a room, but in hindsight that was an excellent decision because it allowed more air time for those 2 students.

There's no doubt the use of voice chat made the experience a far richer one for all parties. I could hear the hesitations as they strived for the right word, the right form of the word, giggles of occasional embarrassment at mistakes, laughter at comments I'd made. It was as if I could 'hear their intelligence'.

A thoroughly enjoyable event. I'm curious to know how it went for others. Thanks very much Anne for setting it up.

from Teresa:

I also just had a wonderful chat with Louise, Danish, nineteen years old (I think), and Saranda, 17 or 18, from Kosovo, who moved with her family to Denmark 4 1/2 years ago.

To my pleasant surprise, Louise started voice chatting almost at once and Saranda followed.

We had an extremely interesting talk: we started by breaking the ice with introductions and then went on to different topics: street life, driving, climate and houses, family, values, equality between men and women, fashion, gays, foreign immigration, etc. They wanted to know about all these issues in Portugal.

It was a fabulous experience and I was thrilled that they started voice chatting at once. I tried to jot down comments based on what we were saying, because I wasn't recording the session. Fortunately, I should say, because I had about 10-12 server errors/breakdowns. I was about to explode! The good thing was that reloading was very quick. And Louise and Saranda were very understanding and patient.

(Chatlogs of this session at http://streetlife.homestead.com/Archives.html)

comment from Morten:

I also enjoyed our conversation very much, it was both interesting and fun. It was also
quite an experience to talk to a person who is so far away over a computer.

comment from Mette:

I really enjoyed the chat and i thought it was very useful. It is always interesting to hear about other cultures and to learn from them. It was great that the voice chat worked after we had tried a couple of times to fix it..:) For me it was a great experience..


October 7th, 2003 - Voice Chat with with Staff and Students of the Centre for Distance Education, Athabasca University (Yahoo Messenger; web-based Yahoo Chat option)

Feedback from Jon Baggaley:

Many thanks for your valuable contribution to our course. You gave an excellent
transworld perspective for the students, and also influenced one of my faculty
colleagues, I sense. This is exactly what I need to cajole those infrastructure
guys into allowing Yahoo through their firewall, to permit us to get on with the

The 20 participants were a mixed bunch of my students and others,
mainly teachers and trainers, but also including colleagues - even a Colonel from
the National Defence charged with setting up similar facilities in the military.
About half of them had never used the software before and were gob-smacked to have
Australia on the line so immediately.

log of text chat HERE

October 23rd - NW2003

My presentation details at http://michaelcoghlan.net/nw2003/mcsession.htm

My thoughts:

The session was, in short, a great success. Technically, apart from the initial hitches when Jon's audio was poor (mostly due to the volume in the conference room being too loud) everything worked and worked well. We began the session with about 25 people and the audience grew to about 40 for the bulk of the session. Apparently word got out in the conference corridors that something really good was happening in the Wentworth room!

Several people came up to me in the next day and a half and said what a great session it was. One person said it was the best thing at the conference, and another said 'you were the only one at the conference doing IT (it = pushing the envelope/demonstrating innovation) and not just talking about it.' So we can be well pleased with our efforts.

I asked many people in particular if the audio was clear and whether they felt engaged throughout and mostly the answers were a definite yes. I think LT will pick up more members as a result, and some were amazed that Jon spoke to us in Yahoo messenger so it was a good idea to present the range of tools.

Considering it was the first time Anne has presented at such an event she did a wonderful job. She has a great voice for online presenting, and her tone, clarity of expression, and speed of delivery were just right.

From Susanne Nyrop:

This morning I got up very early to join with Michael C. and Anne Fox for their presentation in Learningtimes voice meeting room. This was a good session, Michael was on location in Australia and Anne at home in Denmark, sharing her story of the Streetlife project. The Australian audience were invited to ask questions, and Michael who was the microphone holder had planned some time for that, as well. After that, Jonathan did a quick tour with us to tell about the Learningtimes community work, and show us some fun images from the Online librarian conference that he runs for some days.

And thanks to Michael and Anne for inviting us to be present with you. This was good.

From Arlyn Freed:

I just want to say that I FINALLY had the opportunity to experience vClass and Elluminate and I'm so happy I'm dancing on the ceiling!

What a powerful tool! And the sound was excellent. It was so easy to use! And I heard Sus and Maria for the first time ever!

Excuse the gushing but I'm still a newbie to the audio aspects of CMC and this was a real treat. I'm sold.

Also, from a Mac point of view, it worked seamlessly. For once, I was not "left out in the (PC) cold".

My response to Arlyn:

Arlyn - fantastic that you were able to join this presentation! I remember the first time I heard Susanne talking after about 2 years of reading her wonderful text contributions. It almost brought tears to my eyes because it made me feel so much closer to Sus.

I understand the gushing!

From Anne Fox (co-presenter):

From my perspective I must say that one misses something by not being able to see the audience. I had no idea of who I was talking to. The fact that there is a 3-5 second delay in handing over speakers in Elluminate means that it is not really practical to pause to see if anyone has any comments. But these are very minor considerations anyway.

I might mention that my husband was with me (to make sure I stayed awake!) watching events as they unfolded and he was gobsmacked and immediately wondered about the possibilities in his line of work. We do talk! But seeing it in action is quite a different matter. He is a scientist who attends conferences and gives lots of presentations so he's a whizz with the Powerpoint but sometimes his schedule gets a bit too busy and these tools might ease the calendar sometimes.

From Rita Zeinstejer:

The platform was user-friendly, and , above all, voice was a success. I heard Anne Fox speak from Denmark about conditions and barriers to overcome, and the use of Wimba, and it seemed to me it's been one of the clearest voice sessions I've listened to. It also made me feel good at hearing many of us share the same fight against both teachers´ and students´ resistance.

October 25th - Taiwan - http://www.geocities.com/vance_stevens/papers/webheads/taiwan/wenshan2003.htm

From Vance:

As usual the chat was so hectic today that I learned more about the Alado portion from reading Sus's and Teresa's emails than I saw of the Alado chat during the event myself. I was busy pulling strings as usual (actually switching monitor cables mostly so was could show the audience whatever was working out the one projector ... woops, that's stopped, quick, switch to this one ... and meanwhile, sort of uh giving a talk). I'll have to subtitle the next one A visit with Webheads: Chaos Navigation and the Importance of Having Plan B

And it is difficult balancing the expectations of an audience attending a 'Guest speaker presention' (wait a minute, is this a speech or a circus??) and the frustrations vis a vis what we are trying to do with the tech. It was only at the end of the talk that Venny got one computer to actually give us sound and thus broadcast your voices to the room (Michael realized we hadn't heard his earlier remarks, remember?). There are a lot of issues to work out, and some will have to wait for wider availability of greater bandwidth. That was our problem at TESOL as well, pushing the envelope with the occasional inevitable hiccup. But the spirit of this group is to keep pushing, and it seems to be a crowd pleaser at the end of the day and mutually beneficial to us all.

From Teresa:

Wow, it was nice to get back to the live Webheads presentations after a break (for me, at least) of a few months. It felt good to join others through voice - always a special experience, right, Michael? it says so much! - in such faraway places as Taipei, Adelaide, Chicago, China, and closer to home in Spain, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, and Switzerland (right,
Lukas?) in the old European continent!

I think that those of us at Alado were able to follow part (most ?) of Vasnce's presentation. Voice was off only a couple of times, but with Andrew's fabulous technical expertise, the last time around it was solved quite quickly: a question of logging out and in again. [IMHO, I think we should take Andrew's comment about too many tools, computers, connections (whatever!) seriously, and try to simplify things. And also do that workshop about Alado and TI. I do hope we will talk about that tomorrow.]

I enjoyed the words from fellow Webheads, but was sorry that there were very few questions or comments from the audience. There wasn't much time, either, which happens at most presentations I've been to, f2f or online. And it is a shame. I always find that people in the audience are shy in the beginning, but once someone starts, they loosen up and tend to follow. It happened at both my presentations this year when Webheads came in to talk to the
audience. [In general, the timing of Q&A time in presentations is at a loss, so this is something we should look into very carefully. Even if the audience doesn't start out at once, we know one another quite well and can always ask ta Webhead to talk about something more specific, or ask a question, such as Michael Coghlan did today, so as to help the audience loosen up and interact.]

From Susanne Nyrop:

Those present online were Andy in Chicago, Michael in Adelaide, Maggi in Germany, Dafne in Valencia, Teresa in Parede, Arif in Turkey, and later Lukas in Basel (a colleague of Andy) -plus Aiden, Ying Lan, Venny and Vance who were also live on location in Taipei. And back stage in Tapped In were also Don, aka Yaodong from south China who was not able to reach the Alado room so he had to rely on our referring skills on and off, as we did encounter quite a few fallouts of voice from Taipei in Alado. And - oh oh, I surely forgot that Aiden was transmitting the session by webcam in Yahoo using her Bluetooh wireless. Chaos navigation as usual; at least Andy did his best to help cat herding ... But sure we did hear some of the presentation, and were also allowed some minutes to introduce ourselves, as well as having questions from the audience - a very LIVE presentation that was indeed.

November 8th - Aiden's ETA Event

from Elizabeth Hanson-Smith:

After about 5 of us had struggled to get to the right place at the right time, the first question the students (grad TESOL students, I think?) asked was "Where are you, and how's the weather?" We were of course dying to tell them everything we could think of about CMC, so this was a surprise, and I just burst out laughing (off-line, of course). But isn't it natural to start with some social amenities?

So maybe this is an issue to be dealt with--how to introduce the students/target audience to the speakers in such a way as to make efficient use of a very limited time period without seeming cold and abrupt. I think Aiden was hoping it would work through our initial voice messages, however. . .

Most of us had difficulties with the voice interface and/or the password/ID question and/or where we were actually going to meet. Somehow, I managed to get Aiden's Webpage (my digest seemed to have arrived earlier than Arlyn's), so I knew where to find the voice conference--but I didn't get my PW/ID until moments before Aiden was starting. My voice message may or may not have finally shown up on the voice board.

So dealing with proprietary software, like Wimba and BB are always going to present the problem that guests have to "add the class" before they can participate--which may entail added expense if the charge is "per body." Otherwise, a live Wimba helper has to dole out PWs on the fly on the spot. Maybe there is some way to get Wimba and BB to build in a "guest" capability? Otherwise, give me LearningTimes, TI, and YM over these.

I still find the voice chat difficult and unsatisfactory--particularly so through the BB interface last night. I kept losing the text messages after a page or so, and ultimately my IE crashed the computer and I had to reboot. Each time I closed the voice conference framework and reopened it to get the text chat back, I lost a little of the audio conversation during that time. Annoying. I was using Windows 95 and an IE 5.+ so it's partly my equipment--though I see from other messages that others had problems too.

So I guess the features of VC are not quite ready for primetime. Hope Wimba is aware and working on this. And knows that they need to do Mac OS X as well! If the interface won't work on old machines and won't work on the newest machines, they are targeting only a very small (diminshing?) audience of users.

All complaints aside--it was great to talk to Webheads and students. And thanks so much for going to all the work and effort and trouble of setting this up, Aiden!
Three cheers for you--and keep on trying it.

from Chris Jones:

I think one thing we need to emphasize with live audiences is that whenever we present we are NOT using our normal teaching set up which is much less susceptible to failure than presentation hardware which is set up on the fly with unfamiliar connections or totally lacking connections. Thus, participants should be advised that they are not likely to encounter these same problems when they are teaching. In a teaching situation on your home campus, you usually get a chance to try out new approaches, software, and/or hardware before you try it with students. You still need a backup plan, but it is much less nerve wracking than when we have just one opportunity of one hour to perform in front of an audience.

November 13 - FLL Report (Roundtable Discussions)

This was a part of the FLL showcase day.

Format: 3 separate (but continuous) discussions; remote and f2f participants; Tool used: Elluminate

Topics: #1: IT Firewalls; #2 Firewalls of the Mind; #3 Implementation/Application

Participants: remote - Jonathan Finkelstein, John Walber, Hope Kandel (LearningTimes); Steve Fisher (TAFE QLD); Vance Stevens (Webheads)

This was yet another use of voice tools. Physical participants spoke using mics laid out around the table so all, remote and those present, contributed equally to the discussion. Archive of the session available at http://home.learningtimes.net/learningtimes?go=262476

A very successful session. Elluminate peformed without a hitch for 90 minutes over a 28.8 connection (all the hotel connection would allow).

November 16 - Webheads on Global Learn Day (from Abu Dhabi)


Vance Stevens,

(who flew down especially from Kuwait), and I were present at the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Institute. We each took turns presenting to an audience of 6 or so in Abu Dhabi, and approx 40 online. This was essentially the Webheads weekly meeting projected to a global audience and as such was very informal. We used the Alado/Talking Communities tool and for the first time it performed poorly. Even Andy Pincon's audio, normally perfect, was poor, and reception was choppy and our outgoing reception was 'Darth Vadered' - probably a result of PI's firewalls rather than any fault of the Alado tool, but people around the world reported frequent poor reception while our session was in progress. This could have been a result of us pushing too many graphics heavy slides too quickly. (check this with Andy)

Buthaina has created a web record of the event. See http://alothman-b.tripod.com/wia-buth-gld.htm.

December 5th - Learntel Conference Presentation

My thoughts:

What was especially important about today's presentation was the fact that many of the delegates are from a video conference background and I really wanted to show them that low bandwidth applications without video can do a very good job of creating interactive online classrooms, and I think we succeeded in that goal. A number of people approached me after the event and were *very* keen to follow up with further investigation.

Many people have attended several such events over the course of this year and to you I am especially grateful. It has been an amazing year and though in many cases I have been the frontman receiving the praise, every one of these sessions has been a team effort and me standing there alone without an online contingent would be a lot less impressive.

December 27, 28 - Oral Presentations from Students in Kuwait

Buthaina This was a wonderful event. Buthaina (Buth) Al Othman organised for her advanced EFL students to do their final course oral presentations online to an international audience. Buth arranged for a number of international guests to be present (see schedule). The Alado/iVocalize tool was chosen for the event which involved students preparing and displaying Powerpoint materials to accompany their talks. Alado perfomed well, except for the fact that I no longer have access to the record feature.
Susanne's Evaluation

The EFL students from Kuwait University of Engineering had prepared their online presentations carefully with a good understanding of how to balance text and images, and were able to let these pages accompany their oral presentations in Alado loud and clear enough to be understood by a foreigner like myself. One thing is the prepared work; another is how the students were ready to cope with unexpected questions and remarks from the audience. (My comment: the students did handle questions remarkably well.)

This occasion to participate in the final project presentation of Buth Alothman's classes has been a tremendous experience and a great example of how to create an authentic situation for foreign language students to express themselves before an unknown online audience
with a globally distributed presence!

Not even the fact that there were a few technical obstacles for the onliners could disturb the presentations (or their teacher's supportive attention), and the final recording that I was able to make of the session, has a good playback quality that transforms the one hour presentation into an exemplary documentation of this kind of student work.

Comments from Van in Brazil

It was still dark here in Brazil when I woke up and turned on my laptop to join Buth's students at Alado.It was my first time using that interface and after all I would say that it was a very good start.

We had some technical problems but I could follow around 99% of the presentations. That was pretty nice to listen to some Webheads for the first time and very pleasant to meet many students from Midle East just like Dana´and others.

...(the) students' presentations went very well! They sounded very confident and answered the questions promptly. Their English was very clear and they seemed to have
no problem in understanding us. Michael and Sus' questions really contributed to make the interaction richer and at the same time friendly.

I hope to join other brilliant sessions like that.

Teresa's Feedback

Congratulations on an excellent job!

I believe the merit starts the moment that you, Buth, had this fantastic idea of online presentations of final projects, and it comes all the way to the final moment this morning (and tomorrow morning, I'm sure!).

No doubt that many hours of work for both the teacher and the students are involved in such a task: planning the project, coaching students on the technologies involved, guiding, coordinating everything (some of Buth's tasks, I imagine), researching, blogging research data, preparing the presentations, and. . . presenting the final product online "for the first time" (students' tasks). We all know from experience that "presenting online" isn't easy, especially those first few times.

Well, girls, all I can say is that you did a wonderful job and your English is very good. For something like this to come out so well, I repeat, thereis naturally much work 'behind the scene'.

This morning you were launched into this fascinating 'online world'. Take advantage of it and try to take others along. Your teacher is a great example of what can be accomplished in such a short time.

Buth, your coordination was excellent. The timing of each presentation and question time were carefully and correctly planned. Six minutes is time enough to say quite a lot, but also leave room curiosity. I enjoyed the discussions. Though there may not have been as many questions as the students might have expected, I think there were interesting comments. And it is a great idea to have extra time at the end for a general discussion.

Finally, as I listened to you, girls, I kept thinking of how 'brave' you were to have volunteered to come online and face an unknown audience of Webheads. Congratulations! Bravo!!! You are certainly very special students!

  • Archive: if you'd like to listen to the archive of this presentation you can download the zip file HERE.
  • student evaluations of the experience HERE.

November 19 2004 Dafne Gonzalez' Architecture Students' Oral Presentations

from elderbob:

It was a very interesting presentation, and your young folks were so obviously well prepared. I love this type of international collaboration and think that it is the most important thing that Webheads do. Sometimes I wonder if we really realize the long-term effect of the things we do now, and how those things will affect the students and instructors of the future that we come in contact with. The Webhead experience is becoming one of the most significant things I have done in my life. I welcome every opportunity to support them in whatever way I can, whenever there is an opportunity.

It was a great heady experience today, and one that I and I think, your students, will be thinking about for some time.

February 4th , 2004: Exploring the Use of Voice Online - presentation as part of Becoming a Webhead Evonline Seminar


from Antonia in Portugal:

I found Micheal's presentation & powerpoint really energising because of the combination of simple but excellent ideas and information; also the collaborative manner in which it took place, including comments in both text and voice form from some participants. It was informative and informal at the same time, a lovely experience which i think will encourage me to take courage in the face of some of the obstacles mentioned by participants.

The other thing that interested me was the simultaneous texting during our Michael's conference whilst he spoke. certainly when i lost sound, it was a way for me to remain in touch....but i found it completely fascinating that these two dialogues should be taking place simultaneously, like levels of consciousness....yet only today my son was punished at school for chatting in class. probably our attitudes to class management will slowly change absolutely
drastically over the next few years, possibly becoming more multi-learning style- friendly and certainly more student-centred. Its all very anazing & exciting

from Teresa in Portugal:

...a very successful and participative presentation. I think everybody was extremely interested and some seem to be very keen on trying out these tools with their students.

And thank you, Fernanda, for being here for us and our participants to record the whole session. (downloadable from HERE) I'm looking forward to hearing it, because I was logged off for about 15-20 mins. Our cable ISP went down and hasn't come back yet!


from Susanne in Denmark:

.... a successful session indeed. We had about 20 participants joining us in a Yahoo Messenger voice conference room, and started to invite people twenty minutes before start to make sure that technical problems were solved as best we could. Michael was accompanying his power point presentation with a very inspiring talk, also including the very lively participant conversation in the parallel text chat, that turned more and more into a funny direction, still relevant but a little off topic, showing how easy our minds begin to wander, just like it is for students in a face to face classroom. At the end, it was fun to see all the applauding icons on the screen, demonstrating happy peer learners :-)

We had ten minutes for questions and comments, and I certainly hope that some of the issues raised will continue here in our discussion list. Fernanda was recording our voice part of the session that you will find in our Yahoogroup files section soon, we captured some screen images and Dafne was able to save the whole text chat that will be included in a homepage following up on this session.

from Sara in the Canary Islands:

Just felt like commenting on how interesting Michael's session was. Although I have used MSN messenger with my students (I still do it) I've usually done it with text only. And thinking of them (teenagers), I guess they'd probably feel more comfortable speaking in English online than face to face, as most of them are quite shy and feel embarrassed when they have to speak. Someone mentioned anonymity, well, perhaps it might be changed into an advantage!!

Apart from that I've found it really inspiring, I mean the idea of having virtual guest speakers. I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have the possibility of talking to someone who is in Japan or Australia!!

So I'm seriously thinking of organising some sort of event similar to today's , connected with culture, for example.I for one would not mind to prepare a PPT on my area, Canary Islands, for example, and arrange a meeting with other colleague's
students so that they can see pictures, ask questions, etc...So here you have a volunteer to run the risk! Let me know if anyone is interested...it can be great fun!

see Barbara from Brazil's comments at http://beewebhead.blogspot.com/

from ElderBob in the US:

... here's a cheer to Michael Coghlan.what a great job..Phone, chat, Powerpoint and running jokes on the side. I thought it was awesome. As far the running jokes, we have become multi-taskers.how many of you can sit at a screen and now carry on multiple conversations with multiple subjects in
multiple locations and never bat an eye. Michael, it was great.

(thanks Bob! - MC)

Questions from Leah in Japan and Answers from Dafne in Spain:

L: Was the power point presentation done one frame at a time?

D: Michael was following his presentation slide by slide and announcing it to the audience so everyone could follow him. If questions were posted to the text chat, he would answer them, and from time to time he asked questions for the audience to answer or gave time for questions while he gave a rest to his voice :-)

L: Were there multiple images on the screen at the same time, for a reader/audience member to follow?

D: The link to Michael's page and ppt was written on the text chat so people could click on it and have it open in their browser. So, each person could have the chat window, the ppt images while listening to MC.

L: It sounds like there was a simultaneous lecture going along with the power point being used in a way like lecture note handouts or notes written on a white board, and the lecturer improvised a bit from the notes. Is this right?

D: Michael was explaining his slides while people were looking at them, and he, as I said before, would make comments about what we were writing on the text-chat window. When he asked people to participate, people would take the floor using their mics, or writing in the text-chat. Yes, the PPT slides were used as his outline for the pres.

L: Were there any moving graphics for the eye to follow visually?

D: People would click to get to each new slide. There were no moving images. In the PPS version of the pres, the slides had a very nice arrival to the screen, but Michael did not use that version at the end**

L: Is there a way for a learner to work off-line in a word-processing software, using editing tools such as grammar and spell check, before posting? I understand that the on-line, synchronous aspect is both a motivator for the learner to interact in 'real time,' as well as providing a text record for the teacher to assess learners' output. However, the pressure may cause anxiety.

D: Yes, while you are in a yahoo conference you can have your Word or whatever processor and compose your messages which you can then copy and paste to the text-chat window. However, I, personally, have not used chat with my students for grammar or spelling correction. I think that it would hinder their spontaneity and fluency. Chat language can be compared to oral speech, there are other means to promote writing in their different genres.

L: I simultaneously talk on the phone and send emails to friends who have broad band connections. Despite the fact that that's one-to-one, how would this experience differ?

D: At some point in the conference, I answered a phone call and read an important e-mail I was waiting for. And during the whole conference I was answering people's personal messages (in different yahoo windows) asking to be re-invited to the session or to help with technical problems. So you can multitask while attending a conference at Yahoo. With my students I have had 5 concurrent conference windows with groups of students working and I popping from time to time to each group just as you go from group to group in a f2f class.**

Some comments from Joao on the equivalent 2005 presentation:

Michael's voice presentation was very, very professional. It was backed up by a very well structured and visually simple slideshow. Michael has great diction and speaks very calmly, allowing for easy comprehension. As he knows what he's talking about, he grabs the audience and has total control over it. I liked it very much. It was also a lesson in how to teach. I learned.

(from his blog at http://joaomoraesvaz.blogspot.com/2005/02/baw2005-hearing-voices.html)

February 11th: Presentation to Phillippines Study Group at Technology School of the Future

the (all male!) Presenters:

Michael Coghlan
(on the ground host)

Steve Fisher
(Health e-Learning)

Jon Baggaley
(Athabasca University)
Jonathan Finkelstein

Format: (from pre-session email to participants) Note: this email represents a fraction of the email communication that takes place to set up such events. There was much more communication on availability, times, tools, topics before the plan became this concrete.

1.30 - 2.00 my time, 1.00 - 1.30 in Brisbane, 10.00 - 10.30 pm Tuesday in NY, 8.00 - 8.30 pm Tuesday in Edmonton

introduce myself, the topic, and issues. I'll use a Powerpoint that I will pre-load into Elluminate so you can see the slides, and will use a lapel mic so you can hear me. During this half hour or so I'll introduce each of you in turn for your 5 minute intro to your sub-topic.

Jonathan - obviously you can load some slides if you wish, and Steve - if you have some you'd like me to load send them to me before 11.00 am and I'll do it. I can then drive them for you if you decide to do this. Same goes for you Jon. But there is no need to have slides if you (Steve, Jon) decide not to. In fact it may be good for the Phillippines folks to get a taste of voice only for this part of the presentation.

From around:

2.00 - 3.00 my time, 1.30 - 2.00 Brisbane, 10.30 - 11.30 pm NY, 8.30 - 9.30 pm Tuesday in Edmonton

I'll get the group (16 people each on their own pc) into LearningTimes and eventually bring them into Elluminate to continue the discussion informally. Depending on their confidence levels, they will hopefully be enticed into conversation with Jonathan and Steve. Jon won't stay on for this part of the session. I'd also like to show the group the Wimba tools and wrap up the session so I'll pull the plug on this discussion when conversation runs dry or time's up.

What actually happened:

from Jon Baggaley:

Nice session, Michael. Sounded as though you have already changed those nice gentle Philippines people into a roomful of rowdy blokes!

Michael C continued:

That sounds like a good place to start a debrief! There was certainly a marked difference in energy levels once people set about the task of making their way into Elluminate. It made me wonder if it would have been better to do the whole session with everyone logged in. I chose to do it the other way because I wanted people to see how these tools can be used in formal presentation mode to show how you can join remote and campus based students, and to show how you can invite guest lecturers into physical classrooms and in effect team-teach I assumed that people from Asian educational backgrounds may be more comfortable in a more traditional arrangement: teacher out the front talking to the whole class. (I think I was wrong about this. This may have had something to do with age. The average age of the group was 30 something, not the 45 + typical of many Asian study delegations.)
I think the first half hour was successful, and I think dividing the session up into two distinct sections did provide fruitful contrast, but there was definitely a boost in energy levels once people could try it themselves.

I didn't have a chance to observe the interaction inside vClass. I was too busy buzzing around the room trouble shooting various technical problems. (IT support people had not checked that all headsets were actually connected and so many took to listening to the conversation via exernal speakers and this created quite a racket and a lot of feedback.)

from Jeff Catchlove (session convenor):

Many thanks for your generous preparation and attention to intercultural factors. The learning style preference for this group is unanimously interactive and participatory - that's a useful benchmark for future encounters!
I appreciated the explicit chunking of your session - input, online, input, online x3 then the task of going online together. The cacophony and excitement speaks volumes for the fun and conceptual processing experienced. .....your delivery was the usual well-informed, articulate, well-paced, learner-centred class act Michael. A 1000 thanks!
.....please pass on to John, Jonathan and Steve (Canada, New York and Queensland) our gratitude for their professionalism and generosity in giving time to meet our needs

March 11, 2004: Personalizing Interaction

with Steve Gilbert from TLT; session as part of Building Community and Connections Online and On Campus series; ARCHIVE for LearningTimes members

March 21, 2004: High School Graduation - Chicago

This was another wonderfully innovative example of how to use a virtual classroom - the brainchild of Andy Pincon (Alado Development).

Andy wrote:

Last Saturday, March 6, we held Chicago's 2nd Mexican/Hispanic Education Summit at one of our City Colleges of Chicago satellite campuses, Westside Technical Institute where awards were given out to high school students that distinguished themselves with exceptionally high grades in Mathematics and Natural Sciences. Our Hispanic Technology Training Center, MEDA, awarded the students with the highest grades four new computers which will be given out to the students this Sunday, March 21 at 20:00 GMT. The students and their families will be guest at MEDA for a Mexican luncheon and we will have a live session in one of our webcast portals with students in Mexico, Niños de la Sierra, where the Mexican students will provide a presentation on Benito Juarez, Mexico's Abraham Lincoln, as part of the event celebration. March 21 is celebrated in Mexico as Benito Juarez's birthday. Dafne and Michael have graciously agreed to join us virtually and say a few words to the students, their families and some of our local community leaders and politicians who will be present.

Pictures at http://www.alado.net/meda/id8.html

September 24th, 2004 Hearing Every Voice - with the aid of the Internet.

This was a 3 hour workshop as part of the CLESOL Conference where 25 participants were introduced to the world of voice tools. For an impression of what was happening online go HERE, and also read Chris Jones' account below.

From Chris:

Michael Coglan's workshop yesterday was quite a success. I was amazed
and impressed at how his onsite participants jumped right in and tried out several different Internet tools within about a 3-hour period. I think he had about 25 people there onsite. We started out in Tapped In, and it was quite amazing to see so many guests popping up one after the other. BJ explained a little about how TI works in between comments from the guests. Finally, Michael sent them off to other rooms, so the conversation didn't scroll by so quickly.

Next we went to Yahoo Messenger, and several participants took the mike and came up to visit with those of us online. Unfortunately, YM closed up on me a couple times, probably because I had too many windows active on my 56K modem.

Next, the participants went on to use a Wimba voice board and have a break, and we Webheads took our our breaks. I had recorded a welcome on the Wimba board earlier. Today when I went back to look at it, I had two replies to my greeting. However, there had been so much traffic on the voice board that it seemed most participants must have made several contributions--starting new threads and replying to various threads.

From there we went to Alado. Buth made a great impromptu explanation to many participants as some were in the room Michael sent us to and some were in another room with Michael. Daf and I contributed as well. Then on to Eluminate. Buth and Michael did a great job of showing everyone in Michael's office how to use Eluminate. We had all kinds of drawings and comments on the white board.

Previously, I've been online with presentations when it was hard to get anyone to speak into the microphone. Thus, I was quite impressed at how many participants spoke up and tried these different Internet tools.

November 6, 2004: Using Voice Applications

Webheads Aiden, Dafne, Chris Jones, Renata, and Australian National Voice Project members Frankie and Tony joined me for a very enjoyable session on Using Voice Applications. Even though it was a Moodle conference this session really had nothing to do with Moodle. Moodle creator Martin Dougimas was there though and watched the whole event with interest.

After a short intro from me to set scene and context (based on my FFL roadmap (Mindmap), and slides on synchronous tools, disruptive techlogies, trade -offs etc

  • We spent approximately an hour in Yahoo and Alado. Unfortunately my audio out was dreadful for the whole time, and audio in for me at the conference centre was pretty bad in Yahoo. Audio in in Alado was excellent. Many thanks to Frankie for doing some text interpreting of my muddied audio.
  • Dafne demonstrated how she uses voice applications to 'import' guest tutors for her Research Methods course
  • Chris J explained how her students use Yahoo Messenger
  • Undoubtedly the highlight of this event was Renata singing an interactive children's song with guitar accompaniment - really amazing. Songs at http://www.onegreenleaf.net

Due to the poor quality of my audio (which was probably due to me using an untested laptop through a proxy connection) the recording really isn't worth posting. And for some reason the recording did not capture the graphics either. So, there were several significant technical issues but still a thoroughly enjoyable session from my point of view. It demonstrated very effectively once again how MVPs (Multiple Venue Presentations) can combine virtual and f2f worlds in one educational event, and in fact blur the boundaries between them.

Apparently the whole event was being webcast via Real Player as well, and the audio there was fine there....

Thank you Aiden, Dafne, Chris J, Renata, Frankie and Tony. If some of you were in Yahoo waiting for me to invite you to the conference I'm sorry if I missed you. I find it very hard to go back and keep checking my Yahoo buddy list once I get started with the presentation. I guess that's a job I should have asked someone else to do.



(page last updated November 22nd, 2004)