I was quite surprised to find out how few people were confident enough to speak in an online session. Or was it something else? Here we are, I am falling in the topic discussed Monday during Rosceli's event about being honest in reflective practises…
To prepare for the event, I set up an extra revision session with a class of student earlier in the semester. It was obviously not something that I could facilitate, but I could at least gain experience using online conference tools. I used DimDim in that occasion.
-I tried Elluminate with Eric. We had problems and decided to move to Webex. We played with it for a while. I have been using Webex since aprox. 2005, and never had any problem with it. This contributed to being too self confident with the technical side.
-We agreed on the details of the event.
-I advertised the event on the Wiki, the blog, sending invitation and reminders, updating the information as it became available. I made sure that the Wiki and the blog were synchronised.
-I read all the info available about hosting a remote session I could find on various blogs, websites….
On the day,
- I had my script ready for multiple situations on my desk .
- I was using my trusted headset, used for numerous events during the last year.
- I had an experienced speaker
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, my system did not pick up my head set, even after logging out and back. Eric also met the same problem at first.
I ended up as participant instead of host; Heather became a host instead.
It was entertaining to say the least to try fixing technical problem as well as hosting the session.
I should have planned for such difficulties, and not only for complete meltdown.
We could have chosen the Webex version using the phone to carry the voice. I rejected that option at the time as I find it disruptive to have to hold a phone and at the same time trying to type or interact with the computer. It works fine if you can use a headset or a speaker phone.
I used texting as much as I could, but it became difficult as I was not at first picking up any sound from the speakers or headphones. Restarting the laptop was not an option because this would have taken at least 10 minutes to get back onto the network.
In hindsight, I should have use my old PC at home which could have restarted much quicker, not the laptop with all the bells and whistles .
Eric was great, and I did manage towards the middle of the session to get the left speaker on the laptop working feebly. I thing that the microphone also started to work at that stage.
If anyone had been filming me at the time, it would have gone viral on YouTube by now. I was standing with my left hear on the laptop speaker, trying to understand what was happening. I was at the same time waving people getting in my busy shared office to keep quiet. Not everyone was getting the message. I was also trying to get clues from the screen and typing text messages. I am sure I could start a new form of yoga using laptops. You should try it, it is good exercise for the neck and eyes. I must admit that I could not see the funny side at the time.
I had good feedback from several participants in the course, so from their point of view, things must have gone smoothly. I was also pleasantly surprised by the recording.
I did try to facilitate the event, asking question when I sort of guessed it was relevant (bear in mind ear on the laptop, mouth towards the mic, eyes towards the screen as much as possible).
I only had the time to listen to the recording and update my learning journal today. This explains why I was still so despondent during the meeting last night.
It now feels like a really interesting experience. It would have been good to be able to facilitate small informal sessions within the group beforehand. This would have without any doubt improve the "mini conference events" and lower everyone's stress level.
To relax after your mini event, you can see more of Webex in action on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZDRTNCtVzs . Trust Dr Don!