Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The on-line event

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 . Trust Dr Don!


  1. Hi Herve,
    Who knew that all that was happening behind the sences, it would have been amusing to be a fly on the wall in your office I think :)
    As I have already said you appeared very calm during the event. I enjoyed finally getting inside a Webex online conference and I have been curious about it for some time.

  2. Hi Herve,

    I also was interested in Webex and it was good to see how it worked. I also experienced something similar to you in that I thought I had everthing covered and I had spent a lot of time planning. In the end I made some fundamental errors which I have learnt from. It was great to experience running an online meeting and I aslo ended up enjoying the event depite all obstacles. Anyway I enjoyed your session and seeing Webex in action.
    Thanks Rosanne

  3. Hi Herve, sorry it has taken me so long to give you feedback on the session. At the same time, it has been useful reading your version of events before I opened my mouth.

    Thank you the opportunity to see how another tool works. I had to laugh (that's because I am a really mean person) - you were very confident about Webex and then it let you down ...come back Elluminate...all is forgiven :)

    In terms of facilitation, were noticeable by your absence at the beginning.Because the session was not properly opened, we did not have clear information about how to work the technology or how to ask/answer questions. In a situation like this in the future, what would you do differently?

    Having said all that, all's well that ends well, and once you were able to properly join us, you carried out the facilitator's role well. Thank you.