Global Education Conference from a Volunteer’s Point of View

Last year, I was in admiration of the hours that Steve Hargadon, Lucy Gray and Julie Lindsay put into moderating  the Virtual Lounge Room. There was always someone there to greet the bewildered, the lost, the anxious, the excited and even the lonely. Help was there for  solving issues and problems encountered. Volunteers could meet, relax and await a session to take care of.

This year, I volunteered to take on some of these longer haul duties. Here are my observations:-

The people:- Nikki Ugrade was always there when I logged in. She kept me updated and such was her dedication that she slept in a breakout room where she safely kept the  slides for the Spanish presenters. Fearful that the room might shut down, she slept in that breakout room. Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray were often still there -such  long, long hours that they put in. Claudia was my most constant and conistent help whilst I was on duty. Claudia, from Romania helped me moderate many sessions. It was great  have Julie Lindsay there most evenings. Here is what it looked like for me:-

The atmosphere:– Nervousness, anxiety and excitement. No matter how much planning and preparation has been done, presenters can still be very, very nervous. Here are some quotes:

We did do a bit of training with a regional advisor and at 1 a.m. on Sunday we did the online session with Steve – and we felt fairly confident until about thirty minutes before. Then when we went into the room, everything we learned seemed to disappear from our heads and panic set in a little bit. So it was great to have you there calmly talking us through, especially the very wonky start.

I am just so NERVOUS. My session is not for hours yet, but I am here (in the help lounge) to try and calm my nerves. I am so excited!

Quiet  times between sessions.  At this time, the USA was asleep, Europe and other countries were at work or in school. This allowed time to put  links up on the board for upcoming sessions, to avoid the ‘last minute panic’ rush once multiple concurrent sessions started.

The fun times – when the US started to awake and the handover time arrived. There were stories to share, laughs to be had, experiences to tell, issues relayed and updates given before signing off.

The challenges:-

  • my slow internet access. I operated on the lowest possible dial up speed throughout the conference – and survived!
  • moderating three concurrent conference sessions at once.
  • moderating a session that was in Russian, another in Spanish, another in French. However, there was usually someone who could speak basic English and translate for me. Next time, google translate will be on standby!
  • understanding the different accents – Nepalese, Omani, Indianl, Asian etc
  • sorting out the technical issues that arose, although fortunately for me, these were few.
  • finding sufficient moderators during the Australian evening times
  • working hard not to offend anyone, and ensuring that I spoke slowly and clearly to make myself understood.
  • presenters not showing up
  • presenters turning up 20-30 minutes late
  • trying to get an audience for those who had no-0ne but the moderator in the room
  • my computer crashing just as I was about to enter a fourth room to ensure the presenter was there. It took 15 minutes to reboot, but Steve was in there by this time, coordinating all activities

The highlights

  • working on a global scale – exciting (but also rather daunting)
  • networking with an amazing number of high profile people
  • coping with being ‘pushed outside personal comfort zones’
  • sitting in a number of amazing sessions presented by people from across the globe.
  • moderating Sharon Peters’and student sessions on Making a difference in Mozambique.

Some notes:-

  • the Russian chat looked more like “English” chat rather than Russian. The saved chat did not pick up all the comments that had been made in the txt. Here is an example of one comment that it did save “Molodtsy! Chudesno! “, “u vas net web-cam?”
  • Sample French chat “voilà j’arrive enfin à écrire!bonjour à vous tous!j’entends tout!”
  • but the Spanish chat did not save as a txt file! Why was that?



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