Friday, August 17, 2012

CCC Confer: Where Do I Start?

Another semester and you're still not ready for online real-time interaction with your students? It's not that hard! You can do it! Let's get you started with some simple suggestions.

1. Try It Out! You don't have to start blind with your students or anyone else. There's a simple way to get your feet (or at least your toes) wet without having to feel embarrassed or under pressure. Try our practice rooms for free. You can sign into the rooms any time, from anywhere, and see how this thing works. Try the whiteboard, upload a PowerPoint or some image files, share your desktop applications, go on a Web tour. No one will see you making mistakes, and you'll soon discover exactly which tools make you comfortable and which you might want to practice with more before using them with students.

2. Get Some Training. You can get live online training from our expert (and oh-so-understanding and patient) Client Services team, or you can choose recorded training or self-paced instruction. It's a painless way to pick up the tips and techniques that will make it possible for you to be successful online with your students.

3. Sign up for an Account. If you're an instructor in the California Community Colleges (any of them), you're eligible for a free account. Follow this link to register for a MyConfer account, which will make it possible for you to schedule classes, office hours, conferences, etc. whenever you like. With this account, all of your meetings and archives will be available to you when you login.

4. Review our Videos. The "Two Minutes to Better Confer Meetings" series provides quick reminders and tips for the most common Confer uses: application sharing, file sharing, polls, privacy settings, recurring meetings, the timer, uploading PowerPoint and image files, Voice Over IP, Web cameras, Web tour, and the whiteboard. And our Confer channel features real instructors (like you) demonstrating and explaining how and why they use CCC Confer in their online classrooms.

5. Record a Trial Session. Before you schedule a live session with your students, schedule a session without an audience. Get everything ready in advance (PowerPoints, activities, polls, Web sites, and so on), login to your session, and press the "Record" button. Deliver your lecture or presentation as if you were doing it with a live audience, pacing yourself and pausing in appropriate spots for student feedback, and stop the recording when you're through. When the archive becomes available (generally in a few hours), look at it critically for mistakes or things you'll want to change the next time. This is an excellent way to improve your online teaching skills: see yourself as your students will. You may want to repeat this step a few times, and even to allow students or colleagues to view the archive and give you constructive criticism or feedback.

6. You're Ready: Schedule Your Class. If you've taken these five steps, you're ready to "go live" online with your students. Does that mean your first class will go smoothly, without a hitch? Maybe and maybe not. I belive, however the first class goes, that it guarantees you'll know what to do when the unexpected happens, and that you're likely to keep going despite minor setbacks.

Be sure to let us know how things go!

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