Special Guest Blogger
Jessa Wilcoxen, M.F.A., Assistant Professor of Digital Media
I started using Adobe Connect during my 2nd semester (Spring 2011) of teaching at Greenville College. As a professor in the Digital Media department, I spend part of my classes giving tutorials on how to create technical effects in relevant software. I was disappointed to find myself repeating tutorials on how to accomplish a technique to students who didn’t remember what I showed them in a previous class or who missed a previous class. When I had to take class time to repeat a tutorial, I was losing valuable class time that I could be art directing the student projects, brainstorming with them, or encouraging creative experimentation. Adobe Connect was my solution.
Using Connect Pro in the Physical Classroom
During 2011-2013 I came to each class a couple minutes early to setup the software needed to record my lecture or tutorial in real time. After class I would add the link to an online page that I shared with my students. Almost overnight this practice solved my problem of having students request that I teach techniques more than once. When students asked about a technique that I had previously taught, I often directed them to the class’s webpage that contained the recorded tutorial links.
Using Connect in the Online Classroom
In the summer of 2011, I decided to offer my first online summer class, Introduction to Animation. Since I had recorded every one of my tutorials during the previous spring semester, I simply created a calendar for my summer online students and placed each link on the appropriate date. While I still had much of the other preparation work associated with transitioning a face-to-face class to online, the piece that would have taken the most preparation time was already completed. I applied this same technique the following summer when I taught an advanced graphic design class. The spring before I recorded all of my design history lectures and shared those with my summer online students.
Features of Adobe Connect I Hope to Use in the Future
As a design professor I want to have face-to-face interactions with my students and I need to see their work in progress, as my feedback is an important aspect of the student learning process. At this midway point, I can help redirect a student down a more creative path or correct a technical issue before the project is turned in for grading. I also want to mimic the physical classroom in which the students present their final design and I deliver a face-to-face critique. In the past, to achieve web conferencing in my online class I scheduled biweekly online meetings with each individual student and used either Join.Me or Skype’s free screen sharing capabilities. I recently learned that Adobe Connect pro does not require my students to also have the software so I plan to test out this feature at my next online conferencing session.
How I Use Adobe Connect Today
After teaching at the same college for four years, I do not have any new “preps” on my schedule. With that said, when you teach in a technology field every semester will involve new tutorials and techniques. I now only record new tutorials and lectures and I keep the older links (that are still relevant) posted on my class webpage. If I anticipate having several students absent for a sporting event or college field trip, I will record that day’s tutorial as well. On snow days that are too treacherous for me to drive to campus or for my students to walk around campus, I will record a lecture from home and email my students the link. This keeps my class on schedule and no one has to venture out in bad weather.
In summary, my students are no longer asking me to repeatedly show them a technique. They are learning the material by participating in the tutorials in class and reviewing them outside of class. In return for the few extra minutes I spend setting up a recording I have gained more classroom time for me to help them develop their own creative skills and design thinking abilities.
Here is a short clip from a beginner tutorial in InDesign recorded in my Graphic Design 1 class: http://greenville.adobeconnect.com/p1hk7twe8pz/
Note from Rhonda:
I’d like to say a special thank-you to Jessa for sharing her insights and experience about Adobe Connect. Greenville College Instructional Technology has a limited number of Adobe Connect licenses that I administer to faculty. Please contact me if you are interested in learning more or giving Adobe Connect a try in your class.