Academic Technology in Higher Education

Technologies to facilitate the learning process and increase student success

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INTERNET CENSORSHIP THREATENS DEMOCRACY: An Important Message Regarding SOPA, PIPA, and Internet Censorship


My name is Adam S. Wandt and I am coming to you from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where I serve as a faculty member and Deputy Chair for Academic Technology in the Department of Public Management.  I am also a Research Associate with the Center for Cybercrime Studies, and Chair of the CUNY SkunkWorks academic technology research and development group.

I am here to speak out against all forms of Internet censorship, including the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, both currently pending before Congress.

An open and uncensored Internet is essential to promote and protect democracy.  From citizen advocacy, to increased government transparency, to informed decision making, citizens, NGO’s, politicians and the oppressed are employing Internet-based technologies to enhance communications, protect and spread democracy, and allow people in oppressive regimes to organize, communicate, collaborate and overcome adversity.

While online piracy is a problem, I am a firm believer that legislation is not the answer.  It will ultimately fail while costing Americans hundreds of millions of tax dollars.  We should be considering a constitutional amendment to protect unrestricted access to the Internet, not debating legislation to censor it.

We must find alternative means to protect intellectual property while ensuring profitability for authors and artists, publishers and producers, and corporations alike.  The solutions will not come easily and require rethinking and redefining how we deal with intellectual property.

After years of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) failing to protect the music industry with litigation and legislation, the solution came from the technology sector, not Congress or the courts.

Apple’s introduction of the iPod, iTunes and the 99 cent song redefined the music industry by providing a safe, inexpensive and profitable means for the music industry to successfully sell online digital music.

Starting In 2001, millions of people around the world who were illegally downloading music on a regular basis, switched to iTunes and started paying for their music because it was safe, affordable and easier than illegal downloading.  In 2010, just nine years later, Apple hit their 10 billionth iTunes sale.  Today, Apple is the most valuable technology company in the world with well over 100 billion dollars in annual revenue.

It is this type of thinking that is needed to protect both the Internet and intellectual property going forward.  I call on members of Congress and the the public-at-large to consider this message carefully to ensure a bright, open and profitable future for America.


Thank you.

A Call to Action: A Plan for eBooks at CUNY (Please Participate)

Join the CUNY eBooks conversation!

This is an open proposal to the CUNY community. Take action to drastically reduce the cost of textbooks and create a CUNY-wide eBook program. Together we can make a difference.

Please access and read the written version of my open proposal to the CUNY community (Version 4) : Click Here
(The written version is clearer than the podcast and provides more details.)

Your comments, suggestions, and questions are welcomed. Please comment in this forum. If you would like to endorse and support this plan… please do so in the comments field. If you are a member of the CUNY community, please state your role: (i.e. student, faculty, adjunct, administrator). If you are not a member of the CUNY community, please tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you….

Follow Professor Wandt on Twitter


Previous Versions Still Available:

Version 1

Version 2

Version 3


“Live Blog” from the 2011 CUNY IT SkunkWorks Presentation (2DEC2011)

SkunkWorks: Past, Present, and Future

2011 CUNY IT Conference

December 2, 2011

***A special thanks to Anastasiya Fatiy (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Graduate Student) for blogging the session***

[14:30] A panel consisting of Helen Keier, Philip Pecorino, Christopher Stein, and Adam S. Wandt is convened to have a scholarly discussion about SkunkWorks. George Otte is a special guest of the panel today.

[14:32] Adam S. Wandt discusses the background of the group. The group has been convening once a month for the last year, trying to figure out how to be most efficient. Students are starting to be allowed to join SkunkWorks.

[14:34] Adam S. Wandt reviews the Academic Technology Research and Development Group web page at

[14:37] Adam S. Wandt points out that there is a digital application on the website to join –

[14:39] George Otte talks about the importance of SkunkWorks because technology hasn’t been a priority for far too long. Adam S. Wandt and George Otte are in the process of talking with members of administration on how to support this enterprise as it goes forward.

[14:42] Philip Pecorino agrees with George Otte about the importance of technology and also the need for having a forum to discuss individual experiences with technology which is how the idea of an R&D group came to be.

[14:45] Philip Pecorino: vendor involvement is a complicated yet necessary part of the process. It’s a no-strings-attached process with no promises made to the vendors regarding the reaction to their product.

[14:47] Christopher Stein – SkunkWorks is open to software developed by CUNY faculty to evaluate and assess.

[14:48] Christopher Stein – It’s important that technology is evaluated by students and faculty who are the intended audience for the product, so that the evaluations happen in an organized manner that produces comprehensive results.

[14:49] Helen Keier introduces herself as a part of the team for the BlackBoard installation in 2003 and the following updates, including the upcoming transition to BlackBoard 9. She shares that what struck her most through the transitions was the vast amounts of lost data. She suggests SkunkWorks examine how we upgrade to lose less valuable data.

[14:53] Adam S. Wandt makes the distinction between purchasing and evaluating. SkunkWorks is not a purchasing group. SkunkWorks exists to research, develop and evaluate academic technology. The idea is to be as detached from purchasing as possible, though CUNY is likely to pay attention to the reports and make purchasing decisions based on them.

[14:55] Adam S. Wandt talks about the first major funded trial by SkunkWorks, conducted with Sprint Evo 4G Smartphones equipped with BlackBoard Mobile Learn and the paper he has written on the topic. The result was that students quite enjoyed the trial and reported that the smartphones made it easy to do homework, discussion boards, and readings.

[14:57] Adam S. Wandt discusses trial pros: students accessed reading materials a lot more often than usually and partook in more class interaction and trial cons: bugs that were immediately addressed by the blackboard team as well as the short battery life of the phones.

[15:00] Philip Pecorino discusses the importance of university support. A space in the new location on the Hudson side was offered to SkunkWorks, should they need a physical space. This location is available along with equipment.

[15:03] Adam S. Wandt – Entourage edge devices were the first real trial.

[15:06] Audience question about visual disability comes up regarding BBML and Smartphones. Adam S. Wandt counters with the fact that iPads or larger tablets can be substituted.

[15:07] Audience question regarding the selection of technology for the trials. Adam S. Wandt shares that ideas come from one of the SkunkWorks members or from interested vendors. Philip  Pecorino adds that they receive internal proposals from people who are all interested in different things. Adam S. Wandt adds that everyone has their niche that they get passionate about, which is where ideas come from.

[15:11] Adam S. Wandt talks about his frustrations with email and subsequent move to Project Gnosis (taking inspiration from IT help desk ticket systems) as an example of making technology work for you in creative ways.

[15:13] Adam S. Wandt poses a question to Sprint representatives regarding the SkunkWorks trial. Anthony Furino responds – the future is all about phone applications and Sprint was interested in seeing results of the trial.

[15:15] Helen Keier – John Jay has the largest digital footprint of all CUNY schools.

[15:17] Regarding joining SkunkWorks: Philip Pecorino – if you volunteer to be a researcher, indicate your preference. Adam S. Wandt – the best thing to do is come up and say “I have an idea”.

[15:18] Adam S. Wandt- John Jay is at 80% of students with smartphones and the numbers are consistently on the rise, showing the need for technology by both students and faculty.

[15:20] Audience suggestion – a database for academic technology for sharing. Adam S. Wandt reveals that that’s the next big project. The wiki project is slowly underway in order to become a portal of knowledge. An audience member from the office of institutional research suggested integrating the scientific equipment database into the R&D wiki.

[15:25] Audience question – The apparent problem with some technology is that it’s tied to a service provider and students might have to switch to it. Philip Pecorino – that is an issue we are considering. Helen Keier – there is precedent for CUNY schools assuming the licensing costs for its students. Adam S. Wandt – SkunkWorks is there to evaluate the product, it’s up to CUNY to figure out everything else.

[15:27] Adam S. Wandt talks about the next SkunkWorks project next semester which consists of digitizing an entire class by giving students iPads.

[15:29] Helen Keier encouraged the audience and those following at home to join the conversation, come to meetings. You don’t have to have an idea. Philip Pecorino adds that those who join learn a lot about the products we are working with.

[15:31] Audience poll reveals that no one in the audience uses the cloud out of the five audience members who use technology in their classes. (Other than Blackboard).

[15:32]Adam S. Wandt – we want to start putting out a monthly academic technology podcast talking about academic technology, interviewing faculty members who properly use technology in the classroom, etc. a great contribution to the community. Philip Pecorino – we need to know what technology the faculty wants us to research.

[15:35] Audience suggestion – information about the different kinds of data storage in the cloud for when BlackBoard is not sufficient. Helen Keier argues on behalf of blackboard and its future, Adam S. Wandt offers to share his own expertise.

[15:36] Adam S. Wandt – all SkunkWorks meetings are recorded and on the website –

[15:37] Audience question – is the best product? Helen Keier – it’s only as good as the source data. Adam S. Wandt admits to being a big fan of the software.

[15:39] Adam S. Wandt thanks everyone for attending the conference and encourages all those interested to have a conversation about joining.

Please Continue The Conversation


Professor Wandt Launches “The Digital Detective” Xtranormal Animation Educational Mini-Series.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice Professor Adam Scott Wandt recently published his first web-based animation educational mini-series using  “The Digital Detective” will be utilized in several undergraduate digital forensics sections this Fall.  The ADA compliant ten-part mini series provides a creative and humorous tool to communicate assignments and information to students.

The Digital Detective places the students as Interns with the fictitious U.S. Federal agency, The Department of Emergency Administration, in the Office of Disaster Prevention.  The class syllabus provides for a new chapter of The Digital Detective every two weeks or so.  After reading the assigned materials and participating in class sessions, students will view a Chapter of The Digital Detective to be informed of their assignment.

The Digital Detective strives to create an interesting and engaging educational experience using xtranormal animation technology and non-traditional podcasting. Professor Wandt made it a priority to ensure conformity with national accessibility standards so that The Digital Detective is available to students with disabilities.

The Digital Detective is located at:

Your comments and feedback on the project are appreciated.

Professor Wandt is the Deputy Chair of Instructional Technology in the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  He also serves as the Academic Director of the College’s Instructional Design program, and chairs the CUNY Skunkworks academic technology research and development group.

Follow Professor Wandt on Twitter:

Professor Wandt Interviewed on Bringing the Elluminate vOffice to John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Professor Adam Scott Wandt was interviewed on July 13, 2010, by Elluminate Inc. on his research and development of the Elluminate vOffice. Professor Wandt sees Elluminate as a technology to “raise the bar in online learning” and brought its use to the National Online MPA-IG Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Read the full interview article here:

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 770)

Elluminate Screenshot

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 770)

Course:   PAD/CRJ 770 (Spring 2010)

Title:   Quantitative Analysis

Level:  Graduate

Date: February 2010

This is an online course that utilizes several virtual meetings throughout the semester. In past semesters, WizIQ was used for these virtual sessions. This was the first meeting out of five (5) for the semester. Students received a thirty (30) minute “Elluminate Introduction” followed by ninety (90) minutes of course introduction. Students were then asked the following question in a Blackboard discussion forum. Students had seven (7) days to reply. Nine (9) out of fifteen (15) students responded.


Please provide feedback about your experience with the Elluminate software. Since you were able to experience Elluminate first hand during the online class meeting, it will be great to be able to receive your feedback on the product.

Your honest  opinion will be greatly appreciated and taken very seriously. Lastly, do not forget to EXPLAIN the reasons why you do or do not like the program.

Student 1

I more then enjoyed my experience using the elluminate software! I have done web based conferencing before, and must admit, that elluminate is the best program I have yet to utilze. The ability to share documents so effortlessly, and to communicate as though I were actually in a classroom setting was great. The video feature is awesome, and I think that seeing your fellow students makes online classes less impersonal. I plan on convincing my superiors at work to consider taking a look at Elluminate as a possible option to reduce the cost and time associated with arranging and engaging in live meetings. Thanks for the exposure to this innovative new weapon, in my management arsenal.

Student 2

I found the Elluminate session to be very interesting. I wasn’t expecting i t to have as many functions and possibilities that it did. I did like it very much, although I was having a few problems with my internet during the session and I kept getting disconnected. I do not know if that was a result of the program or of my shotty Time Warner services. Having the webcam and sound was very helpful in understanding the course better. Overall, I found it to be a great program.

Student 3

I do not feel qualified to give an intelligent assessment of Elluminate because this is the first course I have ever taken online.

Overall, I found it effective and very rich in features. However, the amount of memory it required, both physical and virtual was problematic for me. I am not a fan of it because it is java-based. I understand this is for compatibility reasons but the publisher should just create the software for multiple platforms.

Student 4

Elluminate is an excellent tool for a class such as our current class, PAD 770.  I am excited to learn more about the Elluminate program as well as the SPSS program.  One thing that I experienced with the Elluminate program was that there were many times that as the professor was lecturing, I would automatically be signed off the the class room chat and would immediately be logged on again.   I would have probably have missed a minute or two of the lecture.

Overall, Elluminate does seem very exciting to learn. By far, it seems like an innovative tool for success.

Student 5

I think that the Elluminate software could be really useful for online classes. It seems like it would be more useful in situations where meetings occur at predetermined times so that interactions can occur. I haven’t seen a recording of a class yet but just from our one online class I think having people involved would make the system much more useful.

I was using a netbook for our class so there were all kinds of problems with the layout for me that I’m sure would be fixed on a normal monitor. But in case you’re curious about the problems with a small screen… There isn’t enough room for the virtual screen, the left hand tool menu/chatbox, and the webcam window so things were overlapped and had to be constantly moved around. Also the chatbox couldn’t show more than one line at a time which was annoying.

I’m not sure how the virtual screen worked on the professor’s end but I think it would be easier if it just simply copied the professors screen so that things could be easily manipulated and multiple windows could be on at the same time just like a projector is used in a normal classroom. Another option would be to have the documents able to open on all students computers so that they could go back and forth through them at their own pace. Also the ‘video’ of the document was really slow. It seemed like there was a really slow refresh rate on the software.

Because of the small screen I was using I had the webcam screen off to the side and off the screen a lot of the time, especially when we were going over the documents. I think hearing the voice of whoever is talking is more important than seeing them. I would give up being able to see who is talking for smoother performance from document screen.

Student 6

Elluminate software is a good tool to conduct online class. My only problem with software is the speed. I found the speed to be very slow. Also the program should be able to detect and adjust according to host screen resolution. I found that constant readjusting a little annoying. Over all it is a good platform. I believe the problems I indicated a minor software glitches which can be easy fixed with a good feedback to the developer.

Student 7

I have never used a virtual class room during my time here at John Jay so using Elluminate was my first. I enjoyed the ability the program gives you to see your classmate and professor.

What I did not like was the differences in the way every one looked. There was no consistency. The problem with the microphones all working together can also be quiet ear splitting.

The application sharing feature is nice, but there need to be a way that the pixelation can be fixed. The problem mostly occurs when pages are moving or being changed, I also see that i takes a while to refresh itself.

If there could also be a way for the documents or power-points to be up on the white board so that we could get a better view of it and manipulate it as well.

Other then that I can’t wait to see how the class goes.

Student 8

Aside from taking 45 minutes to try to get Elluminate to work on my PC, I think that this could be a very useful tool for online classes at John Jay.  Although I believe that Elluminate should offer basic trouble shooting advice or Q&A on their website.  In the 45 minutes that it took me to figure out on my own how to get into the classroom,  I had a very hard time finding basic troubleshooting answers to why I could not get it up and running.

On the plus side, to date I have taken two other online courses (both with the same professor), and had only met the professor face to face once at the end of the second course when I needed help.  Other than that, I had no idea who was actually teaching or who my classmates were. Elluminate adds a personal touch to online learning and makes the class more like a classroom course.  It is great to be able to see and hear who is speaking throughout the session – be it the professor or our classmates.

I also like the feature of being able to show documents, although I would agree with Nora that we should be able to scroll though the documents and view them at our own pace.

For me to evaluate the program further and in more detail, I would have to play with it a bit more and check out all the available features. If we are going to be using the program throughout this semester, I think we would all be able to evaluate Elluminate better at the end of the semester after getting more familiar with the program

Student 9

Overall, I thought the Elluminate software worked rather well. I was a little intimidated by it at first, but after Professor Wandt explained all the functions, it was a little easier to understand. I really like the idea that sessions can be recorded. This function is super important to online classes because of the nature of the class. Most people take online classes because they can not designate a particular time each week to a class. I think that any class that uses this software should take advantage of being able to record sessions and I don’t think that it should ever be mandatory for a student to have to be present at the time the online class is in session. I hope that no one’s participation grade will be affected if they are not able to attend the ‘live’ class sessions.

Something I would ‘tweak’ about the Elluminate software is the way I wasn’t able to scroll through the documents that Professor Wandt was showing all of us. Maybe I didn’t use my controls correctly, but I would like to be able to take control of the documents so that I can look at it at my own pace. It was also really slow when he scrolled through the documents. I don’t know if that was just my computer or a fault in the software. It would also be helpful if multiple windows could be opened rather than just one at a time so that students can compare/contrast documents and not have to readjust the sizing each time.

I like the idea of being able to see who’s talking, but perhaps we should be allowed to see more than four people at a time. I feel like it’s extra work for the moderator to have to click each webcam and each microphone every time someone new wants to talk.

As a whole, I think the Elluminate software will be a significant tool for online learning. It’s more comfortable, to me at least, to see who is teaching the class and to know that I can talk to them through webcam if I am not able to visit their office. This type of interaction is better than using the telephone. However, I feel that it shouldn’t be required for students to have to have webcams and ‘fancy’ headset microphones. It would be one thing if this was a major that dealt with a lot of technology classes, but because this is a Public Administration class I don’t think that students should have to purchase this extra equipment.

* All responses are published anonymously with the consent of the authors.

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 747-02)

Elluminate Screenshot

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 747-02)

Course:  PAD/CRJ 747-02 (Spring 2010)

Title:  Technology and Computer Applications on Public Management and Criminal Justice

Level:  Graduate

Date: February 2010

This is a hybrid course that will be using Elluminate several times this semester. This was the third class meeting for the semester. The previous two sessions met in person at John Jay College. Students were given five (5) days notice regarding the Elluminate classroom. Students received a thirty (30) minute “Elluminate Introduction” followed by ninety (90) minutes of lecture on academic research using the John Jay Library Website. Students were then asked the following question in a Blackboard discussion forum. Students had five(5) days to reply. Eleven (11) out of thirteen (13) students responded. A recording of the Elluminate class is available upon request.


Please provide feedback about your experience with the Elluminate software. Since you were able to experience Elluminate first hand during the online class meeting, it will be great to be able to receive your feedback on the product.Lastly, do not forget to EXPLAIN the reasons why you do or do not like the program.

Student 1

I really enjoyed my first experience with the Elluminate software and it is amazing how fast the technology is progressing. Elluminate definitely represents the last world of technology when it comes to e-learning, a very flexible teaching technique that connects people disregarding where they are located. I felt a little bit stressed and confused at the beginning; I didn’t want to miss a thing so I stayed focused and alerted till the end of the session. Also recording was another positive side of this technique, something you can have access to even when you miss a class. Echo issues were experienced may be because of poor quality of the headsets, that is something that has to be considered becaused interfered with the quality of the communication. The only concern I have so far is the fact that I do have another class afterwards. Unfortunately I did not enjoy the commodity of accessing the session from home that day.  I used one of computer centers at John Jay to access this virtual class; I couldn’t even take advantage of the microphone because many other students were working at that area. This is going to be still a problem for the upcoming sessions. Overall , a great experience !!!!!!

Student 2

The idea of online class is very useful in a sense where it provides the ability to customize class time around a busy schedule. It has proven to be a much needed commodity in the world of education. The Eluminate is the best software for this purpose for the following reasons; firstly, I found it very easy to interact with, yet a person with a little computer knowledge may be able to use this software. Secondly, one can interact with the class and the professor in very easy manner since it just requires one click. Finally, it gives us a feeling as if we are sitting in a real class room with the ability to raise hand, ask questions (typing/microphone), and show confusion so professor can explain it better. Moreover, this software has the ability to record lecture and you can go over the lecture again and again to better understand the topic. One drawback of this type of education is you must have strict time management to keep up with the classroom.

Student 3
I really like the idea of a virtual class where you are able to interact and feel like you’re in a classroom when you’re really not. The software was working really good and is really easy to use. The only problem I had is that I have a class scheduled at school right after this class so I had to be in school anyway. Therefore, I couldn’t use my own computer and had to use the one at school, where I couldn’t add a microphone and participate by typing only.

Student 4

Like most of the class I enjoyed our last class.  I had some minor technical difficulties (the sound and video would freeze for a second or two) but otherwise I thought the class went very well.  This software would not work for some class styles but for the graduate level classes it should work well.  The greatest flaw I see in using the software compared to a standard class is the amount of time it takes to involve the students.  Lectures are ideal for this application but interacting with the students or others in the room takes up more time.  As a professor do you feel you can cover the same amount of material compared to a standard classroom?  I would also guess that students would ask fewer questions online as opposed to in person.  Becoming for familiar with the software will fix these problems to a degree.  There is also a greater likelihood of students getting distracted by other things in their environment, since they know that no one else can see what they are doing (This can also be a positive though as students can multitask).  That said, I really did enjoy the class and think we should continue the use of Elluminate.  As students become more proficient with the software classes will flow much more smoothly and at the graduate level student’s should have the academic discipline to not become distracted.

Student 5

The Elluminate program was a positive and intriguing experience for me. Using webcams and headphones is not something I would normally be involved with and Elluminate forced me to do so, leaving me pleasantly surprised. It was a great program that I absolutely think John Jay should continue forward with. The features on Elluminate (smiley faces, hand raising) led the class to carry on as if it were being run in a standard classroom. The fact that the professor could share links with the class while lecturing was the most impressive feature of all. Having a computer discussion between students while the professor was lecturing was also a great way for questions to be raised and students to be able to interact, which I think was extremely important. In class, students have no way of getting feedback from one another.

In a lot of ways i feel as though Elluminate was more interactive than the classroom and I did not even need to leave my apartment to do it. Aside from glitches and echoes while different microphones were activated, I thought Elluminate was a great experience overall. Programs like Elluminate could absolutely be the future of education.

Student 6

I was unable to access the internet on campus for our last session; however, I was able to participate in the practice session a few weeks ago and I truly enjoyed the experience. It is a very simple, and straight forward program that is very functional of academia. I have not had an opportunity to experience the application sharing as mush as I hoped to, but from the limited experience I was very useful. One concern I had before starting the session was tha the program would be too slow to keep up with a fast pace of a classroom environment. However,  simple functions such as the ability to answer “yes” or “no” questions with the “X” or check mark, make for little delay in the movement of a class session. I did purchase a headset, but have not had a chance to try it out with the system, It would be interesting to see how many students can be on headset at once without any interference or echoing.

Student 7

I personally think that Elluminate is a good program and that it could be convenient at times specially when you are home; unfortunately for me I have another class after this one and therefore I have to access the class using a computer at JJAY which does not have the right equipment. Aside this I did not have a problem during the session only that I could not speak or be seen directly. This is my first virtual class and I find it to be interesting and hope to learn more about the program.

Student 8

I liked the Elluminate experience, virtual classroom is very convenient for those students who can not be in the classroom because of their busy schedule. I do believe that to check the attendance everyone in the classroom should have a video camera (it should be a requirement for the class) and a microphone to ask/answer any questions. Once logged in to the Elluminate students are visible very well on the camera, voice could use some work. Echo is heard if more than one microphone is in use. So far we have experienced that only four people at a time are visible on the screen, from professor’s perspective to check attendance it would take too much time to move from one person to the other. Also, when all students are seen it could create a distraction since there is not much room for other screens to be visible (maybe there should be a separate board for that purpose only).

Student 9

I found Elluminate very effective for several reasons. First, the relay of information online was just as clear and comprehensive as in the physical classroom. Furthermore, I do believe that since the comfort level increases when participating in the class from home, attention span also increases because you no longer keep track of time or think about the long trip home.  The level of learning I think also enhances in the virtual classroom because the intimidation and fear of asking questions lessens due to a more discrete virtual participation. I think students asked more questions online than in the classroom because they felt more confident.  The application sharing tool enhances learning as well because it provides easy access to powerpoint presentations as well as the web. I found presentations easy to view and navigate.

One of the most innovative features of virtual lectures has to do with the fact that students no longer have to worry about trying to copy someone else’s notes written with bad handwriting. Whether a student gets sick or has to miss a class for any reason, they can view the two-hour lecture online. Such feature can enhance student grades on the exams and papers.

While the face design of the application can improve and become more user friendly, the overall effectiveness of virtual learning surpassed my expectations. I strongly believe that PAD 701 (the current online course I enrolled in) should start implementing this software as soon as possible because the level of learning I obtained from one Elluminate class strongly contrasts with the past three weeks of PAD 701 online course.

In conclusion, I don’t think that every student should require a webcam for the course because the headsets are just as effective.

Student 10

My experience with the Elluminate software as one of the participants was great. It was typical of a classroom and a more advance system of learning.  It was a well-organized classroom environment. It was easy and captivating. It captured my attention in a relax manner all through. I love it and I look forward to having more classes on the program.

Connecting to the software was difficult at the beginning; I would like to suggest that the class be thought on how to connect to the program prior to the elluminate class. I also would recommend that the echo from the microphone or speakers be look into. Besides these minor defects, I would prefer it to the regular classroom.

Student 11

The experience of having an online class was really exciting and thrilling in a way. On one hand you sit at home on your couch with a cup of tea and on the other you are directly involved in a class discussion and listening to professor’s lecture.

Overall I think that virtual classrooms such as Elluminate are effective and very convenient for  most of the students. The bad weather also plays its role- you don’t have to wet your shoes in order to attend a class.

If asked about drawbacks, I would mention the slow pace of the process from the side of the students. That was noticed when students wanted to ask questions, the turning on and off of the microphone and the web camera took some time before one could set oneself to actually ask the question. The fastest way to do it proved to be the typing into the chat box.

Other than that, the span of attention is an important issue. Students may be easily distracted during virtual sessions, e.g. someone rings the door bell, the kettle whistles on the stove, the dog runs over your computer etc. I think a good response to this problem would be notifying students well in advance (those who are not engaged from the beginning in online classes) about the date of a virtual class, so that they may really set aside any other things during that time. Also the recording of the class is a very good solution, it is very nice to have the opportunity to always go back if you missed something.

Above all, thank you for a wonderful experience.

* All responses are published anonymously with the consent of the authors.

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 747)

Elluminate Screenshot

Elluminate: Students’ First Impressions (PAD/CRJ 747)

Course:  PAD/CRJ 747 (Spring 2010)

Title:  Technology and Computer Applications on Public Management and Criminal Justice

Level:  Graduate

Date: February 2010

This is an online class that will make use of Elluminate several times during the semester. This was the students first exposure to the software. Students received five (5) days notice of the Elluminate lectur e. Students received a thirty (30) minute “Elluminate Introduction” followed by ninety (90) minutes of course introduction on Elluminate. Students were then asked the following question in a Blackboard discussion forum. Students had 7 days to reply. Ten (10) out of fifteen (15) students responded. A recording of the Elluminate class is available upon request.


Please provide feedback about your experience with the Elluminate software. Since you were able to experience Elluminate first hand during the online class meeting, it will be great to be able to receive your feedback on the product.

This virtual classroom is a possibility to expand the teachings online and your honest  opinion will be greatly appreciated and taken very seriously. Lastly, do not forget to EXPLAIN the reasons why you do or do not like the program.

Student 1

So far my experience with elluminate seems pretty interesting. While at first I was a bit skeptical about it. I then discovered that my husband uses it for his entire online degree at his private college and he loves it. I did have to invest in a microphone which I have yet to see how it will function. While it’s wonderful to still feel the “in class” setting virtually I do feel an added pressure when I can’t log in for a session due to either work, or personal reasons. (The first session I did feel a bit awkward since my daughter was in the room and I was scared she would want to start playing around.)

I personally tend to be a bit shy in classroom setting and online courses allow me to express my thoughts/opinions and Elluminate doesn’t seem to hinder my feelings. So, so far “two thumbs up”.

Now I do have a question I started with Black Board back in early 2005 and there used to be a virtual classroom through blackboard did that get removed with the upgrade. Also Prof. Harrow I think it’s essential that when students registered it is noted that they will require a webcam/microphone for this course. Just FYI..

Student 2

It was a great experience. It would more helpful if we would be able to see all students at the same time. Or have an option to choose who we want to see. I hope that next time more people will attend and everyone will have headphones with mic.

Student 3

I was not able to get online and be part of the virtual classroom. I was working that night. The presentation was very important because the professors discussed the requirement for the course including the IRP project. I was unable to access the virtual classroom when I tried for the first time. The Elluminate software was not working when I tried at first with the Internet Explorer browser.  I downloaded Firefox and it worked. I tried the software today with Internet Explorer and its working too. The software is good because it’s has a user friendly interface and the sound and graphic were clear. This is my first time taking an online class and I’m amaze with the way the education system is progressing with the use of technology. This software offers the students that have a family and a full time job the opportunity to advance in their education and obtain a college degree.

There are other video conferences software in the market that we could try throughout the semester to see the differences and enhance our video conference experience in our course. Some of these videos conferencing software are IBM Lotus Live, Cisco TelePresence and Skype.

Student 4

I was unable to attend the live session but watched it afterwards and found it to be a great new aspect to online learning. I knew that live  online sessionsI were possible but didn’t realize we were able to use such technology at John Jay. I’ve taken a few online classes but by having a type of virtual class room, I think it will make this class that much more rewarding.

Student 5

Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in virtual classroom provided through the Elluminate Software. Despite that fact I truly believe that the Elluminate Software is one of the greatest innovations created to improve communication through video and audio technology. The only concern I have is the lack of experience and knowledge of the software. Being unable at the beginning to get even the access to the recorded lecture (as I heard I was not the only one who had problems with opening the link) was simply frustrating and embarrassing. I would like to benefit from this program as much as I can, but I would rather prefer to have some sort of training before I started to use it. For someone who is not really advanced in computers and technology, the way of figuring out the basic steps by myself can take forever and might not to be as functional as it should be.

Student 6

I have utilize software similar to this before but I find Elluminate to be more easy to navigate. It provides a wealth of different options that make it easy to accomplish any goal one may have. I find it to be very beneficial and I feel that it should be incorporated into all graduate programs both within and outside the CUNY community.

Response to Student 6’s post

I agree with you , Im surprised I have never heard anyone mention it before.  None of my friends have ever used it in their colleges or universities.  It is especially helpful in snowy conditions like today and tomorrow. I am sure more classes will make use of it as it becomes more popular.  Maybe not for regular classes because students attend class in person but definitely for online classes.

Student 7

Illuminate software is similar to Skype, however, the first one is more convenient because it gives the ability to see up to 4 people simultaneously. The only one real concern is about frequent troubleshooting with the sound. Illuminate program catches a lot of outside sounds which bring some noises. But for the purposes of virtual classes and conferences, I think it works quite suitably (however, it needs more modifications in quality of video as well as sound).

Student 8

I didn’t attend the virtual classroom on the actual date but I did watch it at a later time and I thought that it was very interesting and it reminded me of skype because of the use of web cams, microphones and how you interact with people over the web. I believe that this form of virtual class room is a great way of doing things especially if and when you have an issue and it might be easier for a person to communicate with classmates or the professor and get feedback on assignments or some other issue. I think that Elluminate will be a good thing for those students who aren’t exactly familiar with technology when it comes to the computer and different applications and how they may work or who aren’t familiar with the whole online class process. I have to say that at first I was wondering what is this that they want us to do but then when I watched and saw how elluminate worked it opened my eyes to a new way of running a classroom, I’m familiar with the whole online class process but never anything like this exactly, it was new to me as I’m sure it was new to most of the students in this class. I can see how it might be intimidating to some but it never hurts to learn something new because who new elluminate existed? I would have never known about this if it wasn’t for this experience. I see this as something good and a fresh new way of  getting everyone involved. Thank you for the experience!

Response to Student 8’s Post

I also thought it was similar to skype.  I def agree with your comments and I am too looking forward to using it for this class.

Student 9

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the live session on Elluminate.  However, after viewing the video that was recorded from that night, I believe it is great tool for enhancing academic learning.  This new way of online learning is almost similar to the traditional classroom.  Being able to listen and watch the professors and other classmates speak, with the use of webcams and microphones, is very helpful and informative.  I like how this live virtual classroom can provide interaction and immediate feedback.  In my opinion, this is an excellent course for students to sign up for and become more comfortable with computers and technology.

Student 10

Before this course, I had no idea what Elluminate was or that it even existed.  I logged on to watch the virtual classroom lecture and I was impressed.  As someone who does not know much about technology I found this to be more comforting and personal.  I wish I could have joined in on the actual live chat but it was great to be able to see both professors and even classmates.  The feature I really enjoyed was the messaging box where we could type in comments or questions which were addressed by the professors. I also like the fact that we can revisit the chat and rewind any parts we want to view or hear again.  It is as if we have a personal video recorder in a classroom and we have the ability to take notes and hear our professors as many times as we need to understand what is being covered.

I can also see how this could be intimidating to some students and a bit odd to get used to seeing oneself on camera on the computer screen. I was intimidated a bit myself even though I did not participate in the live chat.  I guess it is a matter of adjustment.  It can also be a bit stressful and I think there should be several training sessions with the professors so each student can test their head set, microphone and camera before they have to use it in a group project just to ensure that they are in working order.  Another suggestion I have is to offer the chat later during the night so everyone can participate (maybe around 8 or 9pm) and on a day when no one has class (e.g. Sundays).  I can see how students, due to work schedules or other classes, would not be able to participate and take advantage of this program.

Overall I like Elluminate because it is practical and I can definitely see it being used nationwide in many companies.  It can be used for various meetings and it allows people to work from home.

I am looking forward to the challenges this course will present.  I am both excited to learn new things but also a bit intimidated.  I like to receive all assignments ahead of time because it makes it easier to manage along with other classes and work.  Being in control of what is assigned is important to make sure that all assignments are complete with all that is required before the deadline.  I know we have to log in several times during the week to comment and give feedback on other people’s work but I hope we can have it outlined ahead of time, which seems like it has been indicated on blackboard. This course will prepare each student and challenge us to be self sufficient. I know that there is zero tolerance policy on lateness, I just hope we have enough time to complete each task.  The introductions were great and the vcard assignment was something different but something I will definitely use at work.

This course is a requirement for the MPA program and a very crucial course because technology is growing. I don’t think this would be a great masters program if it didn’t prepare its students to what they can encounter in the real world.  If we put in the time now, it will be a lot easier in the future.

Thank you for introducing me to something new.

Student 10

Although I was not present at the lecture, I had no problems in accessing the recorded session the next day. I believe that Elluminate provides a revolutionary method of teaching that is more convenient for some teachers/students. This software allows for actual teaching in an online course rather than just providing assignments and written lecture notes. I like how the software allows you to see multiple people on webcam rather than just the instructor, as well as the listing of everyone that is in the “classroom”. Also displaying who is specifically talking (if they do not have a webcam) is also very useful. Although I have not used Elluminate before the first lecture of this course, I have no specific negative things to say about it at this time.

Student 11

The Elluminate lectures are very interesting. It is a way of learning about the technological advances that are being made today. Years back we would never have believed that this type of online classroom setting would be occurring. I found it to be an educational way of showing us new ways of learning, while keeping the students involved in a virtual setting.

* All responses are published anonymously with the consent of the authors.

Computers and the Elderly

Grandma iChat 4

Not only students and younger generations use electronics on a daily basis; increasingly, those over 65 who grew up without much of modern technology are learning to use computers.  This can have long-term physical and mental health benefits, as several studies have suggested that elderly people who use computers can delay the onset of dementia.

I recently purchased my 82 year-old grandmother an iMac, primarily because I saw her mental capabilities begin to deteriorate.  It was the first time my grandmother had ever used a computer.  She had refused to purchase a computer in the past. I countered her resistance by purchasing her an iMac on my own, driving it to her house, and setting it up without her knowing.  Once it was set up in her living room, I said: “Grandma, see that new computer? It is the only way you will be able to find me soon. I will no longer being using the phone at all in the near future.* If you want to reach me, Skype and e-mail is the way to find me.”

On Safari’s top bookmark bar, I bookmarked six sites for her to explore: Google, CNN, The MET, Lincoln Center, my underwater photography website. and my Sister’s art site. I made it easy for her to find a few select websites, but then challenged her to learn to find more.

I also provided my Grandma with a one year “Apple One on One” gift card and left the rest up to her. I provided some assistance via desktop sharing (the most common problem was the disappearance of an icon from the dock or taskbar), but I purposely held back a lot of other requests for help to encourage her to become self sufficient.

While it took Grandma over a year to become self-sufficient, she can now e-mail and surf the web without assistance.  Over time, I have seen incredible improvements in my grandmother’s alertness.

Not only does the use of technology deter dementia, it aids mental health to stave off depression, a common occurrence in the elderly.  Technology allows people to communicate with their families who may not live nearby, and to pursue interests they may not be able to handle physically anymore.  Thus, my grandmother uses e-mail and Skype to communicate with her children and grandchildren who live all over the country.  She loves the arts and to travel, but is no longer physically capable of easily getting to museums and walking around for several hours, let alone travel overseas. Instead, she visits the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre and Russian Ballet right from her den. Last night I found out that my Grandmother uses Netflix for movie rentals; I was shocked.

My Grandmother originally told me she did not want a computer under any circumstance. Today, she does not know how she lived without one. I am happy with my decision to purchase her one. My Grandmother is a major part of my life, and to be able to give her a gift so special and life altering made the whole process well worth my time and effort.

I write this blog not from the perspective of a professor who works with technology, but as someone with 10 years of critical care experience and a former line officer and Deputy Chief for Advanced Life Support and Training of New York State’s largest all-volunteer EMS agency.

Here is some additional reading:

*To clarify: I stopped using my cellphone to talk when I got the iPhone. The iPhone is a crappy phone and using the phone was too frustrating, so I started texting and e-mailing instead. Overtime, this practice led to me almost never communicate by a cellphone call. Today I use an average of 30 minutes a month on my cellphone and most of that time is my doorman calling to tell me my food has arrived. I use an average of 2000 SMS messages a month and receive/send over 500 e-mails a week. I do not have a landline at home and have a policy of absolutely no voicemail on any device. I even went as far to turn off my voicemail at JJC. People can’t leave me a voicemail even if they want to. Today I received my iPad 3G, I would like to dump having a cellphone altogether, but I don’t know if this is realistic. Time will tell…

by: Adam Scott Wandt with Michelle Stein

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