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Bringing In Local and Global Guest Speakers through Wimba

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2010-04-22 01:00 pm EDT

Presenter: Dr. Chunyan Song, Ann Steckel, & Laura Sederberg, CSU, Chico

Technology in Wimba can be a convenient and inexpensive tool to bring in guest speakers to maximize student engagement and learning experience. One Chico instructor taught a group of 72 students in Soci354 Interethnic Contact class in spring 2009 with one third of the class attending on campus and the rest through Wimba classroom. After students learned about basic theories, the class moved on to learn various case studies about ethnic relations around the world including the ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia. She brought in two guest speakers whose lectures on Yugoslavia had added invaluable elements to the course. Both lectures could not have been arranged without the technology of Wimba Classroom.

The first guest speaker, Dr. Kate Tranchel, who is a professor at Chico State came in person. Dr. Tranchel had to teach another class the same time as the guest lecture. To solve the conflict, Dr. Tranchel brought in her students who watched the live broadcasting of the lecture through Wimba in a different room. The second guest speaker was Mr. Savo Heleta who is the author of one of the required textbooks in the same course, Not My Turn to Die: Memoirs of a Broken Childhood in Bosnia.  Through Wimba Classroom, Mr. Heleta gave a lecture to the students and answered their questions all the way from South Africa.  Both on- campus students and distance students were able to communicate with the guest speakers during the two events.

Students' response to both events was overwhelmingly positive. The first guest lecture by Dr. Tranchel inspired my students to take teaching with them to start the change with themselves. The second guest lecture by Mr. Heleta helped to put a human face behind the textbook. Students' interest and involvement in the course had been greatly enhanced after talking with the book author. Both events have dramatically maximized students' learning and engagement in the course. During course feedbacks, many students indicated that the two lectures were among the most unforgettable moments during their whole college education.  I will share my experience and thoughts on using Wimba to bring in guest speakers at the conference.