Last weekend I was involved (thanks to Shelly Sanchez Terrell) in an online conference for the first time in about 3 years. Shelly has been part of my PLN since 2009 and we met face-to-face for the first time in early June this year when Shelly came to Australia for a conference and was able to take a few days out to stay with us in Western Australia. We talked continuously for the whole time – including about resilience which ended up being the topic for my Keynote at the “30 Goals Free E-Conference”
This post is about the experience of planning and presenting a Keynote “Bouncing back! Resilience and survival as an educator.” for the “30 Goals Free E-Conference” through Google Hangout On Air – a new conference platform for me. You can catch the full presentation and the associated textchat through my profile page on the 30Goals website
Planning and preparing
I approached this presentation with some trepidation for several reasons:
- The length of time available for the session – I have never done a session as short as this (20 minutes speaking, plus ten minutes questions/comment) at a conference before, although I have done a couple of PechaKucha style clips. My sessions are mostly workshops and tend to be a minimum of an hour and often rather longer.
- The topic was much more philosophically based than my usual ones which tend to be very practice and/or theory into practice oriented.
- Although I have used Google Hangouts a few times, Google Hangout On Air was completely new to me. So I had no idea how to make it work for my presentation style which is very interactive.
- I was worried about connection dropout – in my experience Google Hangouts are very bandwidth heavy and I live in a “bandwidth challenged” area
- I am totally spoilt in that I have mostly been using BlackboardCollaborate (BbC) – in my opinion one of the best platforms – for online presentations and workshops, although I have also recently used Skype.
- It’s around 3 years since I took part in a totally online conference and I am not doing regular webinars at the moment so I was definitely feeling a bit “rusty”!
Resilience is something I am very aware of – in the educator community, the community I live in and to some extent in myself. I did feel that it was a bit presumptuous of me to talk about it in a global presentation. However once having submitted a title there was no going back! It did take me a long time to prepare the presentation – a lot of thinking and reflecting, and also a lot of time actually putting the words and slides together. For the first time in years I actually wrote down (or at least typed) what I planned to talk about – usually I have just key points or reminders of practical issues. I also tried to make sure I didn’t have excessive amounts of text on slides – having worked so much in BbC and in presenting practical workshops I tend to have more text than I would use in face-to-face and/or purely presentation contexts. Luckily living in rural Western Australia I have an excellent resilience analogy to hand in our native bush which “bounces back” amazingly from severe bush fire events.
The other thing that exercised my mind during preparation was how to incorporate some interaction. I knew we would have ChatWING but wasn’t sure how easily I would be able to monitor the chat and anyway I really prefer more interaction than just chat. Eventually I decided to use two LinoIt canvases and ask for people to add “stickies”.
Thank you Shelly, Jake and Judy for the huge support before and during the session! You all helped me to feel more confident. After a great introduction from Shelly I was launched on the uncharted waters of “Hangout On Air”.
It certainly felt strange to start with to be talking to an unknown number of people and without the feedback (through emoticons, chat and audio) that I am able to get when using BbC. Having ChatWING certainly helped to some extent but I felt peculiarly detached from my audience because:
- I had no idea how many of them were listening/watching
- I didn’t know who they were
- I couldn’t tell if I was holding the attention of all, any or none (no body language as in face-to-face or emoticons/audio etc as in BbC)
On the whole I think the session went quite well. I was happy with my slides (now uploaded to Slideshare – although not very useful without the audio) and how I synchronised them with what I was saying. I only had two that were just text, being bullet points about which I spoke in some detail. I was pleased that I had done my usual things of trying to include interaction and pushing the boundaries in order to do so by using the LinoIt canvases. Including interaction in a very short session was challenging both for me and for participants. I was so delighted that it worked to some extent with some comments being added during the session even though there wasn’t really time to discuss the comments.
I have included the two LinoIt canvases here and would love more “stickies” to be added. The first canvas “Challenges” asks you to add your educator challenges.
One of the things that this conference has done for me is to nudge me into reconnecting globally again. This year I have not been doing as much teaching as in the past and have been focussing on doing some LMS e-learning development for my orgnisation and on facilitating colleagues (both in my organisation and across Australia) in using e-tools and social media for professional development and working with students. On a personal basis – I am still recovering from illness last year and am also concerned with a threat to my home community from mining. These factors have led me to look inward rather than outward as is more usual for me. However I am beginning to feel the “outward urge” again and hear the “wild geese calling” me to the wider world.