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Attending classes from your couch

Professors are using webcams to transmit lectures to your home

March 3, 2011

BY PAULA DAVIS


Life can be hectic for everyone no matter what your lifestyle may be. Trying to commute to class, balance work, kids and family can be somewhat troubling at times.

CSU is now offering a program called Wimba Classroom, which is an online eLearning program that allows professors to teach live virtual classes through webcam.

“This is a synchronous program relating quite closely to the program Skype,” said Joseph J. Mundell, manager of the Freshman Chemistry program at CSU.
Wimba allows us to teach online classes live through webcam anywhere. If the students have a webcam of their own, they can see us as well.”

During class if a student has a question and doesn’t have a webcam of their own, there is an electronic talk button at the bottom of the page they can press.

“I get the notification at the bottom and simply stop the lecture to answer any question the student may have and then continue on,” Mundell said. “I like this program a lot, and never have any complaints from the students.”

Mundell is working closely with eLlearning at CSU to try and obtain some permanent Joseph J. Mundellcameras for Wimba.

Dr. Mundell is one of only two professors that are teaching with Wimba for a four credit class, the other person being his wife, Dr. Anne O’Connor, a lecturer here at CSU.

“What I love the most about Wimba is that it is so user-friendly and convenient,” said Dr. O’Connor. “I cannot only teach classes, but I can run help sessions for students as well.”
Just the other day O’Connor was running a live “help” session for students right from her couch.
Wimba is a program that is used throughout the state of Ohio, although the only college in the area using the program besides CSU is Case Western Reserve.

Chris Rennison, Senior Instructional Designer for eLearning, has worked with Wimba since the fall of 2009. “Wimba can be used for tutoring, professor’s office hours, study sessions, powerpoint presentations and sharing of documents.

“This program is wonderful because the possibilities are endless,” said Rennison.
Rennison, as well as O’Connor and Mundell, would love to see the program flourish across the CSU campus.

“I am in process of even creating an on-call time frame for students to get online and ask questions,” Mundell said.

“As we all know, sometimes trying to make it to class with this unpredictable Cleveland weather is difficult, but with Wimba I don’t need to worry about rushing on campus,” said Lisa Fessler, a student at CSU. “It’s so convenient and easy to use. I wish more of my classes were taught this way.”

In the fall of 2010, President Berkman allocated $150,000 to fund teaching innovation at CSU.

As of Feb. 28, Wimba Classroom received $10,100 of the $150,000, which will be used to upgrade cameras and technology for the program.

For more information on Wimba Classroom contact eLearning at CSU at 216-687-3960 or visit Wimba directly at www.wimba.com.