The Center for International Programs at SUNY Empire State College partners with universities in other countries to offer courses toward undergraduate degree completion. In order to connect international students from their country of residence to their courses and classmates in the United States, SUNY Empire State College uses Bb Collaborate (formerly Elluminate).
The programs include a one week residence where the SUNY Empire State College instructors travel to the international university and conduct an intensive week of face-to-face classes on site. The remaining ten weeks are spent online in synchronous and asynchronous engagement.
The challenge and goal of using virtual meeting tools is to provide interactive, collaborative learning experiences with their peers in the US and to ensure access to guest speaker presentations held in the US or online. Students have also begun using the virtual meeting platform as a way to organize and meet for team projects and to stay engaged.
Breakout room capability in Elluminate allows for group work to be interspersed with lecture during synchronous sessions. Technical glitches with the content on the whiteboard in Breakout Rooms let the instructors to use Google Docs instead of the whiteboard for brainstorming and group activities in Elluminate.
Alternate tools were always available in the event that an Elluminate session experienced technical difficulties resulting in the inability to use the tool. Skype, Movi, and the telephone have all been used to supplement the synchronous technology needs.