Many students are unable to attend face-to-face tutorials for work or personal reasons, others may not have time or resources to travel. Online tutorials allow students to attend with minimum time and disruption and enable students to ‘perform’ in their own known environments – this can be especially useful for those shy of social interaction. For all students, including increasing numbers of non-native English speakers, the ability to ask questions and to replay recordings is very helpful [similar to language teaching/learning (Jenks, 2009)].
Sometimes there is a need to clarify details or provide insights into assignments and course material. Elluminate enables specific questions to be addressed synchronously whilst retaining recordings, for students to view at a time that suits them. (The author has found that her undergraduate/postgraduate learners are usually more willing to feedback in this medium than forums). The medium allows discussion of state-of-the-art examples or case studies and also allows focus on students' ideas and examples. Students can upload their own work, e.g. project work and seek clarification on individual points.
Elluminate is useful for providing one-2-one ‘special sessions’ for students. One useful feature of is ‘application-sharing’ (described below) where the student’s document can be shared between tutor and student, and discussed in detail. You can choose whether or not to record the session and make it public depending on the student's preferences for privacy.
For students who like collaborative learning Elluminate offers a good alternative to face to face contact, especially for students who are based overseas or travel frequently. Using Elluminate means that they can stay in touch and feel part of your tutor group community. These students always give very favourable feedback, reporting that Elluminate makes them ‘feel less lonely and more connected to the course/tutor group’, and they really appreciate this tool as a boost to motivation.
Last but not least Elluminate offers the opportunity to record sessions so that you can to review and improve your own work! In the early days of use especially, this can be very worthwhile as you can see what worked well and reflect on how the session might be improved. If you are brave enough to make your sessions public they can also provide a useful resource as examples for other ALs.