Last spring, I was humbled to be asked by Sarah Hanawald and Jason Ramsden to participate with my web cast partners, Alex Ragone and arvind grover, as part of the opening keynote panel for the North Carolina Area Independent Schools (NCAIS) Innovate Conference. The theme of this year’s conference is Igniting Innovation – Sparking Conversations about Learning in the Digital Age. Joining us were:
The focus of our conversation was “Rethinking Teaching and Learning in A Digital Age”. Alex, arvind and I, pushed hard on the possibilities. On my end, I was connected using ooVoo, which enabled the audience at Cary Academy to see me, and for me to see Alex in New York and the four panelists (arvind, Bill, Kelly, and Meredith). For audio, we used Skype to be to patch this so we could broadcast the audio live. Yes, I forgot not only were we talking amongst ourselves, but we were webcasting and recording the audio of the conversation for archiving at a later date. We also used Skype chat to communicate between the control booth and the three of us, internal communications. Jason Ramsden then feed another video stream out to the Internet. I was watching this, which allowed me to see what was being projected (first a Prezi that arvind created to provide the scaffolding and framework of the conversation and then later Alex and I) and the panelists from the audiences point of view. Lastly since it was live, there were 45 remote viewers of the video stream who were contributing to a text based chat room. Part of my role as a moderator was to monitor this feed for problems and questions.
With so may balls in the air, it would have been easy to drop one or two. I was finding an echo, a few second delay between when I spoke and then heard it again, playing in the auditorium. Strange, but I got used to it after a while. Also, the I experienced an Internet hiccup on my end, which meant I lost connection for a few minutes. And at the end, my audio became choppy. But all in all, it worked.
It was an interesting way to present. Better than in previous attempts, as I was able to gauge the body language of the other panelists and I was able to experience what was being projected. In previous experiences, it was hard to focus on a group. The downside – well the audience was invisible to me. I would have loved to see the feedback and body language of this group. but it was amazing to do what we were doing. And with not being there, I am unable to have further follow-up with the panelists or other attendees, and I will not be able to enjoy the Pork Pull.
This did show me what was possible, for little cost and an Internet connection. Pretty powerful and opens many possibilities. Imagine what kind of connections can occur by allowing students to have access to great thinkers in this way. This really changes the playing field.