Online assemblies using Blackboard Collaborate

Scott Duncan from Cranbourne East Primary School recently spoke at TeachMeet Melbourne at the State Library of Victoria. His school has begun using Blackboard Collaborate to run online assemblies. This post, which originally appeared on his blog, details the process.

Cranbourne East Primary School shares a site and facilities with the local secondary college. Given the size of our school population and available facilities, we found we didn’t have a large enough space to accommodate a whole school assembly. We looked into alternative methods of delivery and began broadcasting assemblies using web conferencing.

We run sessions using Blackboard Collaborate, previously known as Elluminate, and publish them through our school website. Parents and members of the community who subscribe to our school website receive an e-mail notification when the session becomes available.

Every seven days (our school works on a 7 day rotating timetable cycle) I create a session and post the link on the school website. I also develop and upload PowerPoint slides and a recording of the National Anthem.

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

Our online assemblies generally include:

  • A technical run through (audio setup, using the mic etc…) and reminders about acceptable use of Blackboard Collaborate for new users and parents at home
  • Welcome to country led by our school captains
  • The National Anthem – words appear on 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 cross to the Principals office where our principal uses slides, video and/or audio tools to present his report
  • Student performances are broadcast using audio and video tools
  • Shining Star Awards – the award co-ordinator creates slides which I include in the overall presentation, school captains read out winners’ names (we only publish first names due to cybersafety and privacy) and students collect their awards from the office at the end of the day
  • Mathletics update – the numeracy co-ordinator uses audio tools to present an update on students’ mathletics achievements
  • House Points – our house captains read out weekly results and scores appear on slides
  • Any other teacher announcements – staff use the ‘raise hand’ tool to indicate they have something to share and use the microphone tool to talk
  • Assembly recordings are published to our school website for those who miss the ‘live’ session.

Since we began using web conferencing, staff are considering ways to they can use the software with students. Parents who can’t come to assemblies can now participate from home, watch recordings and see students’ awards and presentations . The online assembly program has also helped students develop speaking and listening skills.

I hope to expand the program and involve more students, train more teachers as moderators and investigate ways we can involve people from the broader community.

You can see Scott’s presentation at TeachMeet Melbourne here.

Image credit: T.P. Bennett, (1915) Assembly in hall [picture], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection