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Study group in a virtual classroom

Study group in a virtual classroom

Photographer:Fotograaf: Archief Observant

New Eleum version

More user-friendly, greater functionality and faster, because of less unnecessary content, those were the requirements of the new Eleum version. The School of Business and Economics and the Faculty of Psychology have been using it since 6 February, the rest of the university will follow next academic year.

The most important change, according to Eleum co-ordinator Jeroen ten Haaf, concerns the access to the virtual classroom Elluminate. “I refer to it as Skype Super Plus. It can do everything that Skype can, and much more.” In this classroom, students and members of staff can not only be in contact with each other via video calling, but also share documents with each other. “I can give you access to a document that is on my computer. You can work within that document and save it while it remains on my computer.” The application also offers options for lecturers. “For example, a lecturer can take students to a website and give them an assignment to carry out. He can then divide the class into groups that cannot see or speak with each other. The lecturer can visit each group to see how things are going, just like in a real classroom.”

Elluminate sessions can be organised by the lecturer in the courses, where they now already put the content of their subject. In addition to the virtual classroom, there will also be the possibility to start a discussion or embed blogs or wikis. “When students work on a paper using such a wiki, the lecturer can see exactly who has done what,” says Ten Haaf. “To some extent, this gives you the feeling of ‘Big Brother is watching you’, but students who have worked with it already, generally don’t consider this a problem.” The layout has also changed. “Lecturers in particular are in for a slight shock. A number of functions are now at the bottom left under a scroll window. Ultimately, it is more organised this way.”

The other adaptations are mainly behind the screens. “We started with a clean slate,” says project leader Trudy Meijers. “With previous upgrades, we always included the old content and made some adjustments. This time we started from scratch.” This has the advantage that the programme is faster and there are fewer error messages. The content is also arranged better. “If a lecturer wants to put his course on Eleum, he usually copies everything from last year and makes the changes there,” says Ten Haaf. “In the past, this meant that content was in the programme twice, now the content remains in the same folder. The user doesn’t notice any of this.”

The first two weekends in February, there will be staff ready to solve technical problems. “Students can also come to us with specific questions on Monday,” says Meijers. A special blog has been created for the latest information and manuals: eleumsupport.maastrichtuniversity.nl. Lecturers can participate in a short training session that takes a few hours. Meijers: “We will send the invitations for this per block. The training for those who are going to start working with the new Eleum after the summer, will be held at the beginning of May.”

 

Cleo Freriks

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