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Paige Cuffe: Design template/tools for Elluminate/Blackboard and similar environments.

Looking to develop ways of presenting session plans so the 'movement' through the session is visualised before implementation

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Paige Cuffe
13 January 2013

I work for the Open University, UK primarily as an Associate Lecturer.  I have worked on a variety of modules, using blended and online-only learning.  Much of my additional work is on online student forums, both module and faculty wide.  I am increasingly working with others in designing sessions for Elluminate tutorials which is the online classroom software we currently use.  The environment is essentially the same as Blackboard.  These sessions are intended for use by tutors with Level 1 students in pscyhology, though some work for Level 1 science has been undertaken.

Finding tools to plan and illustrate the planning for this unique environment is something I would like to be exploring.   I think that better visual representation suited to this environment will aid design and communication between those working on the session design.

The sense of physical presence, and the experience of that, is easily neglected as the online classroom is usually treated as a flat environment.  The positive and negative effect of leaving the main whiteboard area to go into a virtual breakout room and undertake small group work, or presenting students with external links (such as by linking to other sites on the main whiteboard) needs to be considered in design.  The flow of a session is difficult to visualise with the tools readily available at present. 

I have done some preliminary work on this and would love to work with others familiar with this environment.

I have loyalty cards for all the major supermarkets in my wallet ;-)  I am equally unrestricted in pedagogical approach, believing there is more than one way of doing things because more than one way is needed.  However, I do favour designing more for group work and discovery so lean towards constructivist.

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Penny Bentley
11:41am 15 January 2013

Hi Paige I've been looking through the list before I submit mr dream and, bingo, I found yours. I present webinars for the Australia e-Series using Blackboard Collaborate and am forever trying new things to jazz it up. I'd be keen to work with you to design the best webinar ever seen. Cheers Penny

Paige Cuffe
12:20pm 15 January 2013

Penny having seen your 'mobile mooc' pic, would be thrilled to talk!  My first career was as a scientist, so still teach intro maths and level 1 science( though have also drifted into pscyhology and now edtech) - so I think we have lots to work with! 

Penny Bentley
3:45am 16 January 2013

Sounds good Paige...let's do it :)

I'm just about to submit my Dream Proposal to Dreambazzar. 

Daniel Staemmler has a similar dream: Design a webinar on how to design an engaging webinar

So, where to from here? 

Penny Bentley
3:53am 16 January 2013 (Edited 3:54am 16 January 2013)

Here's my proposal

Paige Cuffe
10:07pm 16 January 2013

Penny this post is the short version - have had broadband issues all day and lost the first 2 versions...


Read Daniel's post, definitely a good match - well spotted.  In essence we are all talking about the same objective coming from slightly different angles.  Looking to form an approach/process/template for this environment that gives rise to interactive and engaging sessions where learning happens.  Also to just jazz things up (!).

Looking ahead at the mooc course, the next steps we would normally dive into are going to informed by the materials and discussion in the various weeks.  Our first challenge would be that we are all working with different learners and possibly beginning tomorrow/today with w2 materials will give us something to kick around on this point about the disparate contexts.


Perhaps we should look to define our vision of our final product a little more, to bring our proposals together in the process?  For me a big part of this process is to develop a way of visually representing session plans that help understand the movement through the activities and tasks.  I 'm thinking of the learning arc, but also of the physical movement of attention and sense of physicality that is so acute here but forgotten in most discussions on planning for Elluminate/Blackboard. 




Susan Rattray
10:50am 25 March 2013

I too deliver tutorials via Elluminate and am looking for ideas for improving the sessions. I am wondering what you are aiming for here.  Is it some kind of opening screen? 

Anyway, I will follow your developments with interest and contribute where I can.


Paige Cuffe
11:37am 25 March 2013 (Edited 11:40am 25 March 2013)

Hi Susan

Would love input and collaboration - though not for the next few weeks as I'm a little busy workwise...

This began with the idea that many Elluminate sessions don't have a pleasant sense for the learner, their physical experience as well as their learning experience in this unique environment is not easily appreciated by most approaches to session design.  There is also no common way of mapping this experience so when teams of tutors work on designs it is difficult to exchange this aspect. I'm thinking, for example, of the value but also disorienting sense of being distributed to and pulled back from breakout rooms, the lack of attentional cues in the main room when the tutor is talking and so on.  As I've gone along, I've also realised that there is a need to take the tutor's experience into consideration.  How do they 'step out the room' for a few minutes to check email and forum for those lost on the way to the room, in such an environment?  What needs to be planned into a session to facilitate this?  The list is growing.

I have been using my own notation for planning sessions to maintain a clear learning arc and coherent design but still take these factors into account, but it is not sufficiently user friendly.  So a template for session planners of movements, tools, points to break, but visually presented so that they 'feel' the learners' and tutor's experience.

Thoughts?  Would you be interested in kicking this around in a few weeks time?

Susan Rattray
1:49pm 26 March 2013

Hi Paige - not too sure what your interest is?  Is it theoretical in terms of changes that could be made to improve the system/technology - or are you thinking that some of these factors can be manipulated at the coal face by the user? 

As a user, I find the system constrains so many of the things that I would like to do, and am not too optimistic that Blackboard will make things better.  However, I will certainly be happy to chat when things are quieter.  


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