Monday, October 18, 2010

When technology works....

I have a few blog posts in my mind trying to get out and while I am at EDUCAUSE (see previous post) I will be trying to finally post them. Yesterday, I needed to be in two places at the same time, and I was able to pull it off. While I was here on the West Coast I needed to present at the Friday Institute in Raleigh on social networking and yes, I was able to pull it off. How was I able to do it, you guessed it video conferencing, and it worked :)
This week the Friday Inst is hosting the Teacher Leadership Institute with a focus on teaching in 1:1 schools. It is one of my favorite workshops to be apart of and brings a great group of people together. Unfortunately, this Fall it occurred at the same time as my trip to EDUCAUSE. I was able to be part of the planning team, led by the wonderful Joselyn Todd and Sherry Booth, but I wouldn't be able to do - what I think i do best - teach and facilitate. Once again technology not only came to the rescue, it allowed for us to demonstrate what we have been encouraging our teachers to do, innovate and use technology to transform the classroom experience. So instead of having to be in Raleigh in person, I was able to video conference with Skype and give my presentation as well as ask questions.

So here is my foolproof guide for Video Conferencing on the fly:

1) Nothing is fool proof :)  Have a back-up plan. In my case I created a screencast of my presentation that could be used if we had technical issues. I provided a high quality video to the team leaders, and also placed a version online to be embedded in the institute wiki.

2) Test and test often. One of the downsides of VC on the fly is that I couldn't accurately test the ability to Skype until the day of the seminar.  So we did the best we could by testing the quality of Skype in the room that would be displaying the VC and then I tested in the conference center the first opportunity I could.

3) Don't announce the VC until you are sure you can pull it off.  We never promised a Skype session, so if it didn't work, we wouldn't have to backpedal.  The Skype session was a bonus.  Now this isn't always possible, but in this case it was better to underpromise and exceed expectaions than over-promise and disaapont everyone.

All in all I feel that we really did get to showcase the best of both worlds and I got to be apart of both!

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