Over the next few months, BU will be testing out virtual classrooms. A virtual classroom is an online learning environment that brings academics and students together who are geographically separated. The environment allows many people to participate in the same online classroom session, sharing audio, video and resources such as documents and presentations.
BU will be trialling Blackboard’s version of the virtual classroom which is called Collaborate. Some of you may have seen Collaborate when blackboard demonstrated its capabilities during the CELebrate Conference last week.
The Collaborate environment can be used to host a whole class and it can also be used for one-to-one or small group sessions. Some academics have used collaborate to host their surgery sessions so that students from anywhere can drop in virtually rather than in person. Sessions can be public or private. Anyone needing to communicate and work with remote individuals or groups can potentially benefit from using Collaborate.
One of the many benefits of Collaborate is that the session can be seamlessly recorded and then made available to the participants. In this way, the functionality is similar to the lecture capture application, Panopto. Collaborate can record a one-to-one session with a student on campus, off campus or on placement enabling the student to fully participate in the conversation knowing that the content is being recorded for later review.
The trial version is cloud-based which means it is accessible by anyone with an internet connection. Blackboard are developing a version of Collaborate which will integrate closely with myBU so that, for example, a virtual classroom will automatically be created in each teaching unit.
The visitors to CELebrate last week identified a myriad of ways in which the software could benefit them in their work. Part of the trial will be to test out these possible uses and see what works for BU.
If you are interested in participating in the trial, please contact David Biggins.