“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra
We have all heard quotes like the one above, as well as the opportunities that present themselves through change. As an individual responsible for supporting Elluminate and now Collaborate for over 4 years, I am familiar with just how chaotic things can be leading up to a great change.
Elluminate was not a perfect web conferencing system, not even close. It left a bad taste in many people’s mouths, especially after a user had sat on a WebEx or GoToMyPC webinar. Elluminate’s audio had major issues. The interface was clunky, cluttered and had a steep learning curve for both new and returning users. I would wince when asked by faculty or staff, “Why doesn’t it just work?”
Fast forward to the Fall 2012 semester to the transition from Elluminate to Blackboard Collaborate at UCSF. The improvements made to the audio with the addition of echo cancellation in Collaborate ‘12 fixed many of the communication problems reported with Elluminate. The drastically overhauled interface provided both new and returning users with a streamlined, modern look and feel. And the mobile app for iOS devices has users eager to join sessions from their iPads and iPhones.
Since the fall transition, we have offered a number of Collaborate workshops for UCSF faculty and staff. We have fielded questions from both moderators and participants on best practices, troubleshooting and recommendations for using the web conferencing system. I think we can confidently agree with Deepak Chopra that following the chaos that was Elluminate, was a great change.
Collaborate users can now return to using the web conferencing system after a hiatus and not feel like they are learning a new tool. LTG staff have worked to provide in-person support and documentation for users to quickly reference when they encounter a problem or question. When a new question comes up about using Collaborate, we will produce a step-by-step guide that is ready to distribute to the next user with the same question via the Collaborate@UCSF User Guide.
We are happy to report that the transition from what I like to call the chaotic period to Collaborate has brought some great changes to the way we use the web conferencing system. This represents only a fraction of the potential uses for Collaborate in education. The more we highlight and share the successes experienced within the UCSF community, the greater the opportunity for replicating and continuing these successes.
In just over two months, we have seen Collaborate been used for a number of activities that either added value to a UCSF class, or decreased the cost associated with a department meeting or task. Below are just a few examples:
- Nursing faculty working in other parts of the country have used Collaborate to connect virtually with students. This has allowed for more frequent interaction, and decreased expensive travel costs.
- UCSF Library staff members have used Collaborate to provide off-campus staff the opportunity to not only participate in interviews, but also to view the recorded interviews or presentations at a later time.
- LTG staff have used Collaborate to troubleshoot and support Collaborate users at any one of the UCSF locations. If a moderator experiences a problem with the setup of a Collaborate session, LTG staff can quickly enter the session and troubleshoot the issue remotely. Many times this can save staff from a shuttle ride to Mission Bay!
There are more and more ways to use Collaborate in education that are being discovered at UCSF and other universities around the country. If you would like to share a new, innovative way that you have used Collaborate or describe how you have overcame a particular challenge, please provide a comment below. Also make sure to watch LTG’s video on using Collaborate at UCSF included directly below!