Friday, 20 April 2012

Online collaborative environment - a definition?

We are continuing to use our online collaborative environment web conferencing platform for staff training and training staff to use it.  One thing that we've not yet managed to do is define it.  We are using an Adobe Connect customised solution called Mizaru - sometimes we refer to it by name i.e. Mizaru or Adobe Connect, sometimes we call it web conferencing, sometimes an online collaborative tool or platform or environment, sometimes a virtual classroom but we haven't settled on a definitive term.  I don't know whether there is one? I tend to call it different things depending on the audience and depending how much experience they have of working or teaching or facilitating online.  Ideally I would like to call it a 'real time online facilitated sharing collaborative learning environment' but that may be a little long winded......

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

LRC Text Enquiry Service

We've introduced our text enquiry service this week in the LRC.  We have been using text messaging for a few years now across the College managed from our eLearning dept both through the VLE and through a web based interface.  Tutors and lecturers use it with students on their courses and in the last year or so it has been used by the admin staff in teaching departments to contact students and also by our marketing department.  We decided to introduce it as an additional and easy way for students to ask Learning Resources staff any questions or enquiries.  It doesn't cost the student to text.  The incoming texts are directed to our LRC Info email account and then processed from there.  We have a rota so that staff each man the service for a couple of hours at a time.
It is working ok so far and we have had quite a few texts - most sensible, a few silly.  The technical part has proved simple - it is ideal that it goes to the email account and then we reply as a text from there.  i don't think it would work if the texts were being received and sent from a mobile phone - and we want to keep a record of the communication. 
The part that we need to decide on is the protocol for different responses especially in the case of silly enquiries (we haven't had any 'bad' ones yet).  We are formulating some standard responses. 
I think it is a brilliant service - it's great to be able to offer a rapid response to student enquiries with a solution or with suggestions of how we can offer help and support in more detail.