Reign of the Cloud – VITTA2102 – Using the Cloud to Present

The VITTA conference starts today. This has always been a favourite conference of mine and one that I have attended regularly over the years. You can follow the conversations via the hashtag #vitta2012. My google docs for collaborating are The Changing Space of Education and The World is my Classroom.

The timing of the annual VITTA conference has changed in past years. As it is getting closer to VCE exams my principal is reluctant to release me as his argument is that my role is in the classroom at this time of year. Hence I did not submit a proposal for a conference presentation. However, conference organisers asked whether I would present, to which my reply was, only if I can do it virtually from school at times when I do not have classes. The organisers were most obliging and so, this morning, I shall make two presentations:-

  1. The Changing Space of Education
  2. The World is my Classroom

The positives:-

  • Practising what I preach! Showing in the best possible way, that power of the ‘cloud’ or internet in enabling everyone to be involved – distance, time, cost, effort may no longer be preventatives or ‘divides’.
  • I am able to share experiences without a 7 to 8 hour return trip to Melbourne and save on the cost of accommodation.
  • My classes will not miss out on my presence (although I would argue that I technology allows me to  prepare lessons using multimedia and sit them on my blog for student use. I can open up a backchannel eg gchat for them to ask questions of me)
  • I can share some of the many amazing stories of school, class and my experiences.

The challenges

  • Bandwidth issues at both ends – my school has intermittent bandwidth connectivity issues. The conference participants will be pulling heavily on the bandwidth at the Caufield Racecourse, will their end hold up!
  • Using a virtual room to present in with which I am not familiar ie adobe connect
  • Having confident, experienced ‘feet on the ground’ down in Melbourne to ensure their setup is correct, that I can be heard, can be introduced, fedback any audio or time lag difficulties. This person needs to be someone whom I can place full confidence and trust in. And I definitely have that Mel Cashen will be my liason person in Melbourne and Sally Walsh, a web conference coach will also be in the room.  Mel is highly experienced in the use of virtual meeting software – Blackboard Collaborate.
  • Do I use a webcam to project my image? It is preferable to have my webcam on me, so that people get a more intimate session, can see what the presenter looks like and the mannerisms that give added meaning to the presentation. But, it is heavy on bandwidth and may pull me out of the room.
  • What will I wear? I need something bright to wear for the video image. (In winter I am a great one for wearing blacks and greys)

  • Testing is always important. A test was made yesterday with Mel Cashen who was on- site. I dropped out completely at one stage, but with twitter as a back channel I was soon back in the room.
  • Ensuring presentations are all inclusive as possible as questioning becomes more difficult if individual participants are not logged onto the adobe room. (Only the moderators will be logged in)
  • Maintaining interest as I cannot see the body language of the audience – has to be engaging with lots of images, my voice has to have lots of character etc
  • Set up google docs to extend the conversations – questions can be asked, resources, links etc can be dropped in there and names/contact details of participants (for ongoing connections)
  • Shortened the url of the google docs with bitly for easier use and so I can track the number of hits (is it worth this extra work?)

Wish me luck – cos sometimes you just need that with technology. I hope the sun shines through the cloud and that dark storms do not interfere with our linkups!

Also, what hints and tips would you give to me or someone who presents virtually to a conference audience. Have you done it? Have you been at a conference where this was done?  Reactions?

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