Transforming teaching practice through virtual classrooms: A study of staff and student views of synchronous learning
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AbstractAustralia is a vast land and access to quality higher education is challenging for many Australians that live outside the larger metropolitan areas. In 2010, the School of Education at an Australian university (Curtin University in Western Australia) moved to flexible delivery of a fully online Bachelor of Education degree for their rural students. The new model of delivery allows access for students from any location provided they have a computer and an internet connection.A number of teaching staff had previously used an asynchronous environment to deliver learning modules housed within a learning management system (LMS) but had not used synchronous software with their students. To enhance the learning environment and to provide high quality learning experiences to students learning at a distance, the adoption of synchronous software (Elluminate Live) was introduced. This software is a real-time virtual classroom environment that allows for communication through Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video conferencing, alongside a large number of collaboration tools to engage learners.This research paper reports on the integration of a live e-learning solution into the current Learning Management System (LMS) environment. Staff were interviewed about their perceptions and a questionnaire was administered to a sample of students to identify their experience with the synchronous software in order to inform future practice.