As the state that I live in enjoys its hottest March on record, I worked as quickly as possible to water some of my garden before the conference started. In a split second of anxiety, I thought I would miss it altogether as I was about to step on a snake! Luckily it was not a snake but a blue tongue lizard.
As one of the two virtual co-ordinators, together with Jason Graham, our role included co-ordinating and moderating the 40 virtual participants – a group made up of both educators and students. It became a busy day, multitasking on several screens, trying to help those who were ‘lost’, those who were uncertain as to where they should be and those who wanted to engage in conversations and become more actively involved.
A range of tools had been set up to try and engage those who were interested in participating. They included:-
- A wiki – for capturing the conference and the learning that occurred there
- The ning for networking and sharing
- A backchannel using backchannelchat
- Online notepads (shamblespad) for editing, contributing, brainstorming, chatting etc by the individual groups
- Twitter using the hashtag #2013
- A BlackboardCollaborate room during conference hours
Running a little late due to my escapade with the lizard, I logged into the Blackboard Collaborate room and was delighted to see Eva Brown in there with a number of her students from Canada. They were about to present virtually as part of Eva’s presentation using the microphone and video in this room to project their viewpoints. The chat was vibrant and it was good to see that this part worked well.
Over the day, there were hitches with some of the technical aspects of the conference eg Ustream did not always work, face to face groups became very busy within their own group and several keen virtual participants tried to help their group. The most active tools were the backchannel and the chat on the ning. This is where most people found each other and were able to share in conversations. It was always good to have Julie find time to pop in and tell us what was happening at the conference.Toni Oliveri-Barton, in the USA, entered the chat and talked about the success she had virtually working with her group no.4
Mid afternoon, Julie suggested that the virtuals make up a video to be played at the closing ceremony to share their side of the story in being part of the conference. This gave many a purpose, caused much chatter and eventuated in a google hangout for meeting in real time to discuss our experiences. Jason Graham created this google document for us to share images etc and talk about the nature of the video. It was quickly populated with notes and images and also gave everyone a sense of achievement and purpose. The backchannel was actively employed for further discussions on the creation of the video.
I enjoyed following the tweetfall through tweetchat and interacting in there. Although this was reasonably quiet, enough tweets were added to give a feel for the day from the face to face participants. By all accounts it was really successful. Tomorrow sees the last day of the conference. I wonder what it will bring? Were you a virtual participant or a face to face participant? What were your impressions?