Annotating in the classroom 1 – using a visualiser in webinars

Lecturers frequently need to annotate learning materials live in class and, particularly in FET where we teach maths and engineering, to write formulae and use mathematical and other types of ‘special’ characters. Typically, you want to show the working out whilst students are watching, so you can demonstrate and explain as you work through a process. So, how to go about writing formulae and annotation in a staff and student-friendly manner?

There are lots of considerations to take into account and this post doesn’t pretend to have found a definitive answer. In fact, there is unlikely to be one single answer suitable for all occasions and preferences, so in this series of articles I will discuss some of the approaches I’m aware of and if you have anything to add or to ask, please write a comment at the foot of this post which we all might be able to learn from.

In the (good?) old days you would have used the blackboard, or more recently, the whiteboard – simple technology which wasn’t hard to grasp for the teacher, but not always a great experience for students sitting at the back of the class or those who find note-taking difficult. Today we also have document cameras/visualisers in most classrooms and lecture theatres. One benefit of a visualiser for the teacher is that you can use a pen and paper and write in a natural way. And for students it is a decent experience as they can see your writing up close via the data projector. One challenge, however, is how to display and record writing under a visualiser if you are delivering a webinar, for example with Blackboard Collaborate.

Using a visualiser in BB Collaborate webinars

  1. Firstly, ensure the visualiser is connected with a USB cable to the computer you are using, not just the big thick VGA cable. It’s not always easy to check how the visualiser is connected so please ask your local IT support people (or the ITS Helpdesk) if you need assistance.
A+ Interactive Software
Use this software to view the visualiser output

2. Secondly, open the ‘A+ Interactive Software’ so you can see the visualiser output on your monitor screen, not just on the projector screen. If you cannot see the visualiser output using this software, it probably means the USB cable is missing (see point 1 above).

3. Thirdly, make sure to use Google Chrome (not Firefox, Internet Explorer or any other browser) to open Blackboard Collaborate as ‘application sharing’ (which you will need in the following step) is only possible in Chrome.

4. With all of the above in place, go into your Collaborate webinar room and (using the icon in the bottom right of the window) open the Collaborate panel , then click the ‘Share Content’ icon at the bottom of the panel, then choose ‘Share Application’ and select the tab for ‘Share Entire Screen’ or ‘Share Application’.

application sharing in Collaborate
Make sure to use Google Chrome to deliver your webinar, otherwise the Share Application option will not be available in Collaborate