Tag Archives: blackboard collaborate

Online Assemblies

Our school shares the site with the local secondary college. We also share on-site facilities such as the gymnasium. As both schools have grown rapidly in size quite quickly, this has meant that times where we can have exclusive use of the gym is limited. Given the size of our school population and the remaining facilities available, we did not have a space large enough to accommodate our school community. This lead to us investigating alternative methods of running our school assembly program and the introduction of broadcasting our assembly using web conferencing.

The sessions are held online through Blackboard Collaborate (previously known as Elluminate). Sessions are published through our school website. Parents\members of the community who are subscribers to our school website receive an e-mail notification of the session.

Each 7 days (our school works on a 7 day rotating timetable cycle) I create the session and post the link on the school website.  I also develop and upload the PowerPoint slides that appear in each of the sessions and upload a recording of our National Anthem.

Our principal and school captains host the assembly and are co-moderators of the session. We meet about 15 minutes prior to the session and we run through the agenda and slides.

Our assembly format includes:

  • Running through the technical elements (setting up sound, using the mic etc…) and acceptable use of blackboard collaborate for new users\parents at home.
  • Welcome to country – Lead by our school captains
  • Singing of the National Anthem – words appear on the slides and we use the multimedia function to send out the music.
  • Sign of the Week – AUSLAN is our LOTE and each week our AUSLAN teacher uses the video tool to demonstrate a new sign for the week.
  • Principal’s Report – We then cross to the Principals office where our principal uses the video and audio tools to present his report. Occasionally, we will also post this information on slides.
  • Student Performances – Again using the video and audio tools, student performances and then broadcasted
  • Shining Star Awards – The award co-ordinator types up these slides and e-mails them to me to upload for inclusion in the assembly. Our school captains read out the names of award winners (we only publish first names only due to cybersafety and privacy) and students collect their awards from the office at the end of the day.
  • Mathletics Update – We then cross to the Numeracy Co-ordinator who uses the audio tools to present an update on student’s mathletics achievements.
  • House Points – Our House Captains read the weekly results using audio. The scores and also published as slides.
  • Any other teacher announcements – Staff use the ‘raise hand’ tool to advise if they have a message they wish to share and will use the microphone tool to talk.

Assembly recordings are published to our school website for those that missing the ‘live’ session.

As a result of using web conferencing, staff are considering ways they can use the software to enhance and extend teaching and learning experiences. Parents who are working or who would previously be unable to attend our assembly are able to watch the recordings and view details of their students awards or presentations they have made. The online assembly program has assisted in the development of speaking and listening of our students. It is my hope to expand the program to involve more students, train more teachers as moderators and investigate ways we can bring in others beyond the school environment into the sessions. Other schools have also expressed interest in this innovative program.

How does your school run its assembly program ?

Do you use technology\ICT to enhance\facilitate your assemblies ?

What other innovative ways do you use web conferncing to connect with your school community or enhance teaching and learning ?

Ultranet Share N Tell


On the first Monday of each month, I help to present the online PD series “Ultranet Share N Tell” with Mel Cashen and Anne Mirtschen. The Ultranet is an online learning management system being used by government schools within Victoria that has been developed by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

We have been running these session for just over a year now. Links to recordings  of previous sessions we have held are available through the Guide to Innovation Ning operated by the DEECD Innovation and Next Practice Division.

Our October session was action packed with lots of sharing from our participants. It  was also the first session we held using the new Blackboard Collaborate. This meant that a number of us had to get our heads around where the tools we were used to using were located.

The session included:
          A short chat about activities being undertaken during school holidays. Participants shared Teacher’s Games experiences, housework and cleaning, catching up with family, cleaning out RSS Feeds. Jenny Ashby joined the session during her trip to Coolum. She talked about her experiences whale watching and mountain climbing during her trip.
          Mitch Hughes popped in quickly to plug  the upcoming Melbourne Teach Meet Session on Friday October from 1-3pm at Pascoe Vale PS. Scott also mentioned the great video explaining what a teach meet is that was put together through sponsorship from BrainPop UK 
          Graeme Henchel from the DEECD Ultranet Team at Central Office joined us as Wendy McPherson is currently in Arizona. He talked about current testing being done to OSL (Orracle Student Learning – The Learning Tasks section of the Ultranet) to improve. Should be released in the first week of Term 4. 
          Over the next few weeks the Ultranet Coaches space will be converted into a space for all lead users. New space should have about 4500 lead users as members.
          Jenny Ashby asked about the possibility of receiving some form of notification when students post or add to a blog or wiki. Graeme mentioned about the possibility of using the activities portlet within the space. Possibility of e-mail notification in the future (but no promises!)
          Scott made mention of an e-mail received from the Ultranet Team regarding a possible student focus group trial  looking at the content landing pages. Trial would involve both primary and secondary students. Contact Sandra Phillips (Philips.sandra.l@edumail.vic.gov.au) at the eLearning Branch of DEECD.
          Heather Carver, Ultranet Coach from Casey Central, shared her new blog titled “Ultranet – UltraEasy”  . Will focus on the simple things on how to use the Ultranet. Discuss about exporting Ultranet Spaces as templates to save others re-inventing the wheel. Ultranet spaces are exported as a LAR file.
          Estelle Pizer tweeted earlier in the week seeking ideas for systematic approach to managing student portfolios templates or ideas. Mel Cashen talked about using the wiki template within the DEECD Student Goals and Portfolios Design Space and as pictured on the slide in the session. Heather talked about creating nodes for wikis. A node is a way of combining 2 wikis together. She talked about moving away from nodes as they were not easy to use. Some schools replaced using a wiki with them creating a community space where the student creates, the teacher moderates and the parent is a member. Portfolio Community Space would be added to the portfolio eXpress space as an iFrame. Having done this with 800 students it was hard work with many steps.
          Graeme expanded more about the use of nodes. Discussion about the use of portfolio space and that it should operate more like other spaces within the Ultranet that allow for pages and subpages.
–     Mel asked about how to go about creating a node within a wiki. Graeme has created a space titled “wiki display processes” that explains nodes. Within Ultranet wikis, there is a little spanner within the wiki allows you to create the nodes. Like all things within the Ultranet, simple once you know how !
–     Jodi Woodward and Mel Cashen raised the question about creating a space where we could all share our templates. Heather talked about the complexities of a seperate space and the likelihood of people going to it to download. Discussion about greater promotion of great space and the inclusion of some templates within the Content.
–     Jenny asked about process to export a space. Graeme explained that some browsers have issues with exporting .LAR files. Might need to use Firefox as your browser as some other browsers think it may be a differnt file extention. 
–     Heather promoted a new Collaborative Learning Space being developed around Melbourne Cup Day  based on the Literacy and Numeracy Collaborate Learning Space.  
The next Ultranet Share N Tell is scheduled for MONDAY 7th NOVEMBER at 8pm.
Session deatils and links will be posted on the Guide to Innovation Ning