The Getting Started FAQ for Facilitators is a place for collecting information helpful for anyone interested in learning how to set up and facilitate a session in Elluminate. Relevant topics include: how to request access to an Elluminate room, links to overviews of the basic features, and a collection of basic best practices for facilitating interactive sessions.
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UNDER CONSTRUCTION (March 2009)
- 1 Requesting access to a room
- 2 Resources for learning about basic features
- 3 Best practices: facilitating interactive sessions
Requesting access to a room
This is still in the pilot project phase, and access is currently being facilitated by the Teaching & Learning Collaborative (TLC). Please contact Bob Cole or Sarah Springer at the TLC to get started. It's helpful if you can describe your intended use, target audience, schedule or timeframe (ie, every Tues from 2-4 pm), and whether you've ever used Elluminate before.
Resources for learning about basic features
Below is a summary of key features, in the order that new facilitators will most likely need to use them. To see the complete list of Elluminate tutorials (many of which are referenced below), visit Elluminate's training page. (add link)
Configuring your own computer
Before we get into actual facilitation, be sure to run through the resources in the section on Getting Started for Participants. For a short review of basic Elluminate features, watch this video. (add links)
Clear audio is key
Once you're in your room, select Tools >> Audio Setup Wizard. Become quite familiar with the Audio Setup Wizard (watch this Voicethread presentation for a detailed demonstration). The Elluminate website also offers a PDF and a short recorded video tutorial on audio setup. (add links)
If all else fails, use text chat
In your first few sessions (and when working with participants who have never used Elluminate before), it can take a few moments to get the audio channel up and running for everyone. Until then, the text chat tool is a key way to communicate. Elluminate website training resources: PDF handout and recorded video tutorial on using text chat. (add links)
Visualize your ideas!
The whiteboard offers a key arena for complementing your discussions with visuals. Avoid death by PowerPoint! :) Keep in mind that too many bullet points in a fancy PPT presentation is overwhelming; on the Elluminate screen they quickly become downright illegible. Stick to a few key words and images, and fill in your thoughts with your voice. Another key tip: PowerPoint slides are converted to STATIC images when uploaded to the whiteboard. Don't waste time on fancy movements; all transitions and animations (including building up multiple bullet points) are eliminated. Elluminate website training resources: PDF handout and recorded video tutorial on using the whiteboard. (add links)
Best practices: facilitating interactive sessions
Can you hear me now? How about now? Can you hear me now?
Take the time to get the audio right. The presence of an audio buzz or an echo makes the difference between a stimulating exchange of ideas, and trying to talk while a train passes by (too much work, too much distraction!) Be sure to be present -- and encourage students to be present -- at least 15 minutes before the session, to direct participants to use the Audio Setup Wizard (and to send them back if necessary).
Practice and familiarity
For many, the first Elluminate session as a participant can be pretty overwhelming. The focus is on the environment, the tool, the button clicking and getting oriented. It's a good idea to schedule an initial session that is light on any real content (getting to know you activities can be great), and which allows participants the opportunity to poke around, try things out, and generally get settled and ready for the next step (whatever your collaborative project might be!).
Many facilitators use the whiteboard for visuals (often by uploading PowerPoint slides). However, a single voice and a static slide (all PPT transitions are lost) can quickly leave participants feeling isolated. Sure, there are a bunch of names showing in the list of participants, but ... maybe I'll just run to the kitchen quickly for a snack! Advanced approaches to interaction include the use of breakout rooms, but some very simple tools can go a long way for novice facilitators to make your participants feel like they are ... participating! Use the green check/ red X tool to ask a regular stream of yes/no questions. Create PPT slides that allow participants to circle their choices (typing and drawing are pretty cumbersome). Mix up your still slides with the webtour and multimedia file features. You get the idea. Set up a consultation with the TLC GAs if you'd like to have a hands-on exploration / discussion session.
Know thyself! No one starts out being immediately comfortable with simultaneously monitoring the multiple channels in Elluminate: talking, reading the text chat, and highlighting key words on the whiteboard. Each feature will take time to explore and get used to. Until then, don't be afraid to ask your participants for their cooperation (another way to enhance interaction!). For example, many people find talking and reading the text chat impossible; one solution is to designate one participant to be the "voice of the chat". This person can (when called upon) provide a summary of questions or comments that have developed using this "back channel" feature. They can also call your attention to a question from the participants that has been posted. If you're facilitating a discussion with multiple participants using either audio or video, encourage participants to use the "hand raising" feature if the turn-taking seems to be getting messy; possibly, appoint a traffic cop to assist with monitoring and clearing this list. (Elluminate will indicate the order in which hands were raised; read more about this feature here). (add link)