I am loving the online tutorials that are provided by the OU. The Elluminate software is a fantastic bit of kit and it has been really helpful being able to converse with fellow students and to have access to the tutors for an hour or so a week too.
The ability to attend a tutorial in my pyjamas, whilst having to make minimal childcare provisions is absolutely priceless to me and means I have access to tutor support that I would otherwise have to go without as there is no way I can attend the face to face tutorials.
Things I have learnt about Elluminate to make things easier;-
1. Always perform an audio check before or just as you enter your online tutorial. A working mic is useful but working speakers are necessary. If you can't hear or speak, let people know via the text window as soon as possible or people will be talking at you and wondering why you're not responding ;)
2. Don't be nervous about chatting over the mic, everyone else feels just as awkward about it as you do. I hate talking over mic, and detest talking to a group/public speaking but I figure it's something I really have to get used to and now is as good a time as any. Plus I imagine that everyone else is also sat in their homes wearing pyjamas, and that makes me feel a bit better ;)
3. You can save the whiteboards as a .pdf for offline viewing which is a great way to keep them for notes towards the TMA. Also, you can save the chat conversation as a .txt file so you can read through at your own leisure and pick up bits that you found interesting the first time through. I keep my pdfs and txt files saved on my dropbox account (more on that in another post) so I can share them easily with other students who were unable to make the session.