Sunday, October 18, 2009

Application Sharing for Effect

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." - Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta

Application sharing allows the Confer instructor to share anything on his/her desktop, and to pass control to other participants. Although most instructors use this primarily as a demonstration feature, it is most effective as a means of facilitating interaction among students.

But we've observed that this is not the most popular tool, nor is it used by a great many instructors. As Vlad Wielbut of the Alliance for Community Technology says about application sharing: "This standard feature of many Web conferencing tools can be extremely valuable when trying to explain to students how a particular piece of software works: what is better than showing this piece of softwae 'in action', even letting students take control of it for a while, so as to make sure they understand what happens when they do this or that to it. Yet, this is often one of the less intuitive features and requires at least a little bit of training to use it and use it well."

Margaret Driscoll has identified 20 best practices for using application sharing in an interesting and practical article:
  1. Use the long method (don't use shortcuts your students can't follow on screen)
  2. Tell learners where to look.
  3. Apply window management (close unnecessary windows).
  4. Optimize the visibility of the mouse.
  5. Define class size.
  6. Evaluate when to use and not use application sharing.
  7. Schedule sessions for 40-60 minutes.
  8. Probe for understanding.
  9. Plan for latency.
  10. Determine student viewing area.
  11. Use the page up and page down keys.
  12. Warm up the participants.
  13. Watch your presentation.
  14. Move slowly.
  15. Coach participants' performance.
  16. Ask permission (before assuming control of another person's desktop).
  17. Assign finite tasks.
  18. Monitor the other tools (hand-rasing and chat in particular).
  19. Start with a moderator (have a helper).
  20. Practice, practice, practice.

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