Like many universities, the university where I teach has decided to migrate courses online in order to go ahead with our summer presessional courses this year. I’ve been practising using Collaborate Ultra this week. I’ve been getting to know what features it has and how they work in preparation for remote teaching starting next week. All of our students this year are from China and until they can travel to London, we’ll be teaching them online.
Collaborate Ultra is a video-conferencing tool that supports a virtual classroom within the Moodle learning management system (LMS). Courses are set up on Moodle and Collaborate Ultra sessions are linked to a specific course and participants. On entering the session, it is possible to switch from Gallery to Speaker view . However, you can only see up to five participants. When there are more, the screen automatically goes to speaker view and follows the speaker. This is definitely a potential problem with 16 students.
It’s great that there is a Chat function and there are breakout rooms for pair and group work. There’s also a whiteboard and a share content facility but this is limited as it only shares an image, not a ‘live’ document. You can use the whiteboard tools for some interactivity but both the whiteboard and share screen features are a little ‘clunky’.
The most exciting discovery I made was the idea of using OneDrive. Sharing a document in OneDrive and setting the permissions to allow editing means that you can send a link using the Chat feature for students to work on collaboratively and then they can present by sharing content.
I’ve also made lots of visuals to signpost and encourage engagement. Let’s see how it goes…