The new state-of-the-art, web-based audio conferencing software Elluminate Live! is being rolled out across all three campuses at Lismore, Tweed Gold Coast and Coffs Harbour for the first time this year.
The software allows teachers to engage actively with students in an E-classroom, and to talk to each other and use learning materials interactively, said Associate Professor Sharon Parry, Teaching and Learning Centre director.
“Students who miss a session can download the podcast and catch up when convenient,” she said. “The new software is expected to revolutionise the way teaching is conducted, giving students flexibility in terms of where and when they learn.
“Southern Cross can now provide experiential, interactive, learning experiences to students in virtual classrooms, giving maximum flexibility to students for whom travel to campus is not convenient.”
Southern Cross is one of only three Australian universities and two TAFE Institutes to have access to the unique Elluminate program, said Steve Rowe, lecturer in the School of Commerce and Management, who has spear-headed the implementation of the program.
The entire staff now has unlimited access to the software, which has three main applications: teaching, training and meetings.
“Lecturers now have the ability to host sessions from anywhere on the campus (or anywhere in the world, for that matter) and they can deliver their lecture to any number of students in any location,” Steve said.
“Not only can students watch a presentation in a lecture theatre or classroom, but so long as they have an internet connection (dial-up or broadband), they can also choose to sit in front of their computer anywhere, such as at work, home or at a library.
“If they miss the presentation, they can download it later and review it like a video, or sound can be stripped out and delivered as a podcast.
“As an example of what is possible, recently I was enjoying a coffee at the coffee cart outside our library, while watching the live presentation of a paper by a person in Alaska, who was using Elluminate to deliver his paper to a conference in Hawaii.
“The possibilities of this software are staggering and show the way of the future in terms of increasing the flexibility of how learning material can be delivered and how students can learn at their own pace in any environment, while freeing up lecturers to concentrate more on interaction with students.”
In a recent article in The Australian newspaper, John Mullarvey, chief executive of the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee, predicted lectures would remain a feature of teaching in universities but that they would be increasingly delivered in virtual lecture halls.
“I don’t think lectures will be superseded, they will always have their place,” he said. “But a lecture may not be delivered in front of a group of people in the one room, the group might be on the internet.”
Mr Mullarvey said many universities around Australia already provided some units online in some courses and he expected the practice to become more widespread as the technology improved.
He said universities were being forced to rethink the way they taught with the squeeze on resources and pressure from students for a more flexible approach.
Applications are still open to study at Southern Cross University until Friday, February 23, the end of Orientation Week.
All undergraduate applications for full-time or part-time on campus study can be easily made online through QTAC www.qtac.edu.au at a cost of $45.
Applications for distance education and postgraduate courses can be made directly to Southern Cross University by ringing 1800 626 481.
More info: visit www.scu.edu.au/firstchoice.
Photo: Steve Rowe (right) and Peter Vitartas, lecturers in the School of Commerce and Management, using Elluminate Live! software.
Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross Universty media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.