Case Study 1: Web-conferencing to develop investment understanding (collaborative evaluation task)

Face-to-face student view

Face-to-face student view

Remote student view

Remote student view

In this learning design, a small team of academics from the Department of Applied Finance and Actuarial Studies at Macquarie University implemented a collaborative evaluation activity using the Adobe Connect web-conferencing system. After the teacher briefly introduced the task, remote and face-to-face students were randomly grouped into two breakout rooms where they were asked to evaluate the written responses of two past students to an examination question. The students negotiated marks for the responses using text chat and summarised findings about examination technique in a notes ‘pod’ (sub-window). The random grouping meant that people in the local classroom did not necessarily have the opportunity to talk with one another. However, using the web-conferencing system in this way ‘levelled the playing field’ for remote participants in terms of access and interaction. A lack of student understanding of how to operate the technology initially interfered with their ability to undertake the exercise. A teaching aide provided substantial operational assistance to ensure that remote students were receiving all teacher communications and were able to contribute to discussions. The teacher (with the assistance of the teaching aide) was then able to share groups’ findings and discuss them with the class. The blended synchronous learning design did in fact enable remote and face-to-face students to successfully complete the collaborative evaluation activity.