Today I made a short presentation about using wikis in a school setting to a local tech group started by Gregg Murphy called TIGERs (Technology Integrators Generating Educational Resources).
Gregg has decided to take on the daunting task of trying to connect some of the teachers in the area encompassed by our Regional Office of Education. We met together once at the beginning of the year in person and since then all meetings have occurred using GoTo Meeting. This group was exactly what I was looking for to bring my Personal Learning Network to a more local area. Jennifer Wagner, author of one of my favorite blogs, has been challenging readers of her blog lately to make sure that we are expending equal efforts with our global Personal Learning Network and our local ones. TIGERs is a perfect opportunity to extend my learning with people outside of my district but still with in a short drive. Sadly, while I was very excited about being a part of this group I have been unable to attend many of the meetings due to conflicting meetings scheduled in my district.
But one of those monthly meetings that was interfering with my attendance was canceled for the month of January so I was able to attend. Gregg upon hearing that I would be in attendance asked me to present about wikis instead of just listening in. Of course, as a service to my ROE I agreed. The topic was not really a big issue to overcome as I have been working with wikis in one form or another for over a year now. What I found most interesting about this experience was the process of presenting using GoTo Meeting. I have never presented to a group of people that I couldn’t actually see. I was amazed at how many visual cues I felt I was missing from the audience. I couldn’t tell who was with me, who was lost, or even who was bored. Without these visual cues it was difficult to figure out the pacing of my presentation. When I asked, "Does that make sense?" I was often greeted with silence. Even the chat room was completely silent for most of the meeting.
I think this stems from the fact that many of the folks in our TIGERs group are just being introduced for the first time to using these technologies. Perhaps we need to expose them to some presentations where the chat room is buzzing through out the whole presentation. There’s a good possibility that the educators attending these meetings think that chatting during a presentation is akin to passing notes during class. They don’t do it because they don’t want to appear rude or uninterested. We need to help them understand that using the chat will provide the presenter with a "feel" for how things are going. I know in some of the other webinars I’ve taken part in there is even a person assigned to watch the chat room and report to the presenter every so often with any questions or comments that are cropping up that need to be addressed. There are issues that are integral to doing presentations in this format that we are beginning to wrap our brains around. Thank goodness TIGERs is providing another "sandbox" atmosphere where we, as educators, can try out a few new things, work out some issues, grow a Personal Learning Network and find new ways to inspire our students. Thanks again to Gregg for getting this started!