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VC flicks switch to turn on virtual classroom

By Patrick Nelson

Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks and Office of Learning and Teaching Learnline Developer and Trainer Wendy Taleo at the Collaborate opening in Alice Springs Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks and Office of Learning and Teaching Learnline Developer and Trainer Wendy Taleo at the Collaborate opening in Alice Springs

The deadly bushfires that tore through the golden plains north of Adelaide last month have prompted Charles Darwin University Vice-Chancellor Professor Simon Maddocks to reflect on the marvels of communication technology.

Professor Maddocks gave an account of the fire that razed his South Australian wheat farm while last week opening a teaching space on Alice Springs campus, which has been fitted out with the latest online learning equipment.

“This has been a week of new learning technologies for me,” Professor Maddocks said.

“I was able to monitor a bushfire on my farm in South Australia from cameras, while in my office in Darwin.

“Then from Darwin I turned on my sprinkler system in South Australia from my smart phone, which may have … helped save my house.”

Professor Maddocks likened the smartphone technology to the equipment recently installed in the teaching space on the Alice Springs campus, which will help engage learners who may be thousands of kilometres apart feel as though they’re in the same room.

“This shows the power of Collaborate,” said Professor Maddocks, who thanked online guests in Darwin, Perth and in Nepal, for “attending” the opening in the Alice.

“Collaborate goes far beyond traditional video conferencing. This is our virtual classroom.

“The features of this room include an interactive projector, wireless microphones and dual camera capability, providing greater flexibility in the way the room is used.

“There is no doubt that leading edge technologies enable a greater range of possibilities for engaging our students.”

Blackboard Collaborate is a key component of Learnline (CDU’s Learning Management System). The Alice Springs upgrade was made possible through the Australian Government’s Structural Adjustment Fund.