Archive for the ‘Videoconferencing’ Category

Open to New Webinar Tools

September 14, 2017

ZoomLogoSmallIn my career I’ve tried to keep myself tool agnostic-not sticking to a single tool in my software box.  When it comes to webinars it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Adobe Connect for all its professional features.  But this year I’ve been using two other webinar platforms for certain situation- Zoom and Big Blue Button.  I’ll share my experiences with them here.

Big Blue Button is the webinar tool that comes with our current LMS-Schoology.  I like the fact that it’s available to everyone who logs in and they can run as many webinars as they like.  I think it’s particularly useful for teachers to use as office hours or help sessions for their students.  It has a fairly intuitive interface.  The main drawbacks that I see are 1. In our version, recordings only last for 7 days and 2. The screenshare function has too many hurdles for most users to overcome (clunky plugins).

I’ve used Zoom webinars in several different settings.  For a large scale meeting with almost 200 principals we bought a large webinar subscription.  For smaller meetings, 8-20 people, I’ve used their (mostly) free meeting version.  It has an intuitive interface and pretty good audio and video quality.  In particular I like the phone call in numbers that attendees can use for audio only.  I also really like how attendees can adjust the windows/frames to personalize their experience.  The main drawbacks is that it doesn’t let me load and share files ahead of time like the way I setup a lobby room in Adobe Connect.  I hope to figure out a workaround in Zoom for this function.

So, with these additional tools now at my disposal I meet with people planning webinars and discuss their specific needs/objectives.  After that needs assessment I will choose/recommend the webinar tool that best fits the wishes of the users and try not to play favorites.

2016 ATD Conference Top 5 Sessions

September 16, 2016

yjyxkn7iThrough the fortune of geography and the opportunity to work as a volunteer, I was able to attend the ATD Conference in Denver this past summer.  Usually I like to share my top takeaways, but because of the enormity of this conference I had to go the level of top 5 sessions, not just top 5 ideas.  Here they are, in non-ranked order.

1. Storytelling is the Secret Sauce  Doug Stevenson, author of “Story Theater Method” echoed Chip and Dan Heath when he opened with this idea: facts fade, data gets dumped, but stories stick.  I was already a believer in the power of stories to teach and move people to action but Doug taught me some new things.  First, don’t tell a story just because someone told you stories are good.  It has to be the right story, at the right time, for the right audience.  Context is king.  Secondly, as a presenter, you should pay attention to your role as an actor/performer when you step in front of an audience. Just where you stand on a stage imparts meaning.

2. Effective Virtual Training/Webinars led by David Smith, from Virtual Gurus.  David recommends Adobe Connect as the best webinar tool and I found that reassuring, since I know the strength of that software and use it almost daily.  He gave me some ideas of elements to add to my webinars such as an intro video (to be played as people enter the virtual room) that shows attendees how to use the interactive tools.  Another recommendation was to avoid using yes/no true/false questions in polls, rather just have attendees respond using the agree/disagree buttons to save time.  He strongly advises for using a producer to handle tech issues, and only using the webcam at the very beginning of a webinar to establish presence, then turning it off to avoid distractions.

3. Awesome Powerpoint Tricks by Wendy Gates Corbett & Richard Goring from BrightCarbon. This demo went at breakneck speed leaving we in the audience dazzled, yet yearning for slower paced step by step instructions.  The main concept is to create visual sequences in Powerpoint that look like detailed animations focused on clearly communicating the most important messages.  I could see how most of us could develop creative animations, given the time.

4. Using Social Media and Online Learning Communities by Daniel Jones.  Daniel gave me some new ideas such as using social media before, during and after a course. This aligns well with the concept of ongoing learning that doesn’t just start and stop within course deadlines.  He touched on ingredients to create a successful online community: finding people who want to share, have something of value that makes them want to come back to the community area, and have a community manager who keeps the discussions on point, keeping it positive, and asking questions to spark discussions.  Daniel also gave me a new idea for webinars-seeking out resident subject matter experts to share their knowledge, instead of waiting for people to approach me to host webinars, I approach them first.

5. Biology, Sociology of Learning and Leading, keynote address by Simon Sinek.  If you’d like to see him talk on this topic, check out his TED Talk here.  Simon showed how our biological chemicals-specifically endorphins, dopamines, seratonins and oxytocins-give us powerful motivators to act in certain ways.  We must be aware of these to recognize what drives us and other to action.  Another factor is the influence of others, especially leaders, on our ability to work well and persevere.  Simon believes that leadership is a choice and involves personal sacrifice.  By building trust people will follow you.  Many of these ideas seem self-evident, but he added some more that serve as a personal challenge to me:  Anyone can lead.  It’s a daily practice.  We can lead by exercising selflessness, even when no one sees you.  This sounds like a bold, strong ethical ethos that I’d like to strive toward.  In closing, he said, “I urge you to take care of each other.  If you take care of each other, I guarantee we will change the world.”  Let’s do it!

Thanks for reading.

Let me know what you think.

 

Hanging Out on Air

August 19, 2016

googleplushangoutonair-300x207Dear Faithful Readers,

Sorry it’s been a while since posting…this summer has been hectic.  But the good news is that I have plenty to share over the coming weeks!

First, I want to talk about the streaming broadcasts that I hosted for the DEPLA (Digital Educator and Personalized Learning Academy) event this summer.  I volunteered to handle all streaming from one of the classrooms.  My challenge was to find equipment to support a panel discussion and to select the best free streaming platform.

In regards to selecting the platform, I chose Google Hangouts on Air and was pleasantly surprised by the ease of scheduling, automatic recording, and even stats for attendees and recording views.  I highly recommend it for these features.  Thanks to the static urls, we were able to publicize the links before the sessions (for live attendees) and afterwards for viewers of the recordings.  Here is our page of links to the recordings.

My biggest challenge was to find a usb audio mixer for the streaming room since my other mixer was being used in the cafetorium (yes, that’s what they called it, a combination of cafeteria and auditorium).  I purchased a Alesis Multimix usb audio mixer for this event.  This is  a mixer I would highly recommend for it’s affordability, ease of use and high quality sound with no noisy channels.  This mixer made me very happy over the two days of streaming panel discussions.

The lessons I learned to improve my streaming for next year are:

  1.  Try to use a better webcam or video camera
  2. Try to get a backdrop for the panel to avoid distractions and
  3. Look into a virtual or physical video mixer to run more than one camera

Here are photos of one of the panels and my humble streaming rig:

panel at deplamy streaming rig at DEPLA 2016

 

Adobe Connect to the Rescue!

February 22, 2013

Thanks to suadmissionsadobeconnectthumbnailperstorm Sandy last fall our admissions department had to cancel quite a few presentations on the East Coast.  They approached me to discuss the possibility of using Adobe Connect to reach out to the potential students.  What really impressed me about the folks in the admissions office was how they took my advice and did everything to assure a successful webinar, and it was a huge success.  What did they do?  They came in and learned about the software and tried it out for themselves in some test situations first.  They took their spectacular presentation that was in Mac Keynote format and changed it to pdf, with adjustments where necessary to make it look perfect in Adobe Connect.  They used a good USB microphone (AT 2020) and we monitored the sound from another room, with headphones.  Also, as you can see in this photo, one person presented while another facilitated, answering questions.  We  had a few more people on hand who were also monitoring and answering questions from prospective students by using the chat window.  Because it was such a success, I know they’re planning to use it more in the future and will probably add some interactive survey questions too.  Preparation, testing and employing best practices=success.

iChat in the Classroom

November 2, 2010

Earlier this semester I helped Mikita Brottman, who is currently teaching a course titled “ZooOntologies” at MICA, with a live videoconference for her course.  Since we didn’t have a fully-capable videoconference room available to us, we adapted and used iChat to connect with Dr. David Priestman at Oxford University.  For an engaging 45 minutes the students were able to ask Dr. Priestman questions related to the ethical use of animals for research purposes.  Because of the desktop limitations, students took turns, seated in front of the classroom iMac, to pose their questions.  With the aid of the projector and its speaker, everyone in class was able to see and hear Dr. Priestman.  The subsequent feedback from all the participants was very positive.  This seems to show that desktop videoconferencing can work in a classroom situation with some adaptation.  In the near future we hope to have a more formally-equipped videoconference room at MICA-watch for news on this blog.

As further documentation of the event, see the photos posted below: