The Long Term Effects of “This Never Works.”

A few years back we bought some Collaborate licenses and the faculty member who had the greatest success with using it as a tool to communicate with his students had used it as a student while earning his graduate degree. He was familiar with communicating online via audio and video. In online classes he understood using current technical capabilities. He understood what is possible.

While I don’t always agree with, “You’ll teach how you were taught,” there are often some great examples of that I could point to. That is one of them. Many other faculty struggled with the very notion of it being possible and others struggled with the technical aspects. Many, still struggle with being on camera…

We recently moved to Canvas and for whatever reason had to sever our relationship with Blackboard and Collaborate. I wish I had asked more questions about that, but with Big Blue Button we had a synchronous option, and as clunky as it can be, it was an option. I did not complain too much. Out of the 15 Collaborate licences we had only 5 or so were being actively used on a regular basis.

Yesterday my colleague and I were discovering that the audio notifications for the Chat feature in Canvas are very sketchy. Sometimes you get a “ding” and sometimes not. I don’t need a sound in the Chat feature, but the option is there and is sort of works. Sometimes.

During the training we did with faculty and Collaborate is usually worked well. But when faculty were sent out to try it on their own there were user issues. I am party to blame. I should have given them more training, but you know how often people say, “I can figure the rest out myself,” and how that usually goes.

Today I was asked to assist a faculty member using Jabber and trying to get into a faculty committee meeting. Her first words, “This never works.”

Her first words, “This never works.”

I have conversations like that frequently about Skype, Google Hangouts, Big Blue Button, and Jabber.

Last week a faculty was excited to try, for the first time, talking to a student via Skype. She asked me to come visit her five minutes before the appointment so everything would go smoothly. I asked her if she was going to call the student or if the student was going to call her. She said she did not know. I asked her if the student was in her address book. She said she did not know. I asked her if she knew the Skype name of the student. She said, “What is that?”

It has been and will be a slow roll out of the synchronous tools in online education if this is the level of operation we remain at for very long. It is ok, I don’t expect everyone to jump on board and learn these tools and deploy them into classes. But I do wish it was moving a little faster…

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