Thursday, February 12, 2009

Using Skype to get my adrenaline fix

Do you ever do things that you know are wild and dangerous, and potentially fatal like skydiving or white water rafting, but you can't stop yourself doing it? Well, I did that today - had a very scary ride but would do it again at the drop of a hat.

Long distance collaboration
I was asked to work with Sue Hickton to help her present the joys of Web 2.0 to a group of health professionals in Perth - Sue would be talking to the class face-to-face, and I would join in some sort of online form.

We started off a few days ago having a brain storm about what Web 2.0 means to me, and how I use various social networking tools as a health professional. There's nothing I love more than talking about myself and talking about Web 2.0 tools, so this presentation was going to be easy.

Presenting with Skype
Sue and I decided we would try to beam me in using Ustream.Tv because neither of us had used it before and were excited about the opportunity to test it out. Unfortunetly, I do not have administrative rights on my work lap top, so I cannot download Flash and hence am unable to access a number of web sites. But as I can use Skype, we decided we'd have to stick with that.

Taking a risk
You can bet your bottom dollar that when you want to highlight technology, it doesn't work. Sure enough, Sue did run into a few problems, but we eventually got sorted as long as I didn't run Skype video. I felt on tenderhooks the whole time in case my lap top blew up, or Sue was abducted by aliens, but on the whole I think things went very well.

We talked for an hour and Sue showed the group the MindMeister mindmap we made, and a number of online tools including Twitter and Delicious. The thing I wanted to get over was that it isn't about the tools, but how we use them to connect with people - it is in the connections that we find knowledge and learning.

The group had a number of issues. They find it frustrating how the institution they work for restricts their access to tools (which seems to be a theme of my blogging these days). They were also concerned about how they could differeniate between online rubbish and professional networking, and how they could access quality information. I made the point that we shouldn't bury our heads in the sand and ignore social networking because our students and patients/clients are using it to connect with each other, find and disseminate information.

Being blind
I am starting to get used to presenting to groups without seeing them - I did a similar thing last week when I talked to my colleagues at Otago Polytechnic about ePortfolios. It is a little disconcerting when you cannot see who you are talking to, and are getting no feedback at all about how things are going, even in the form of instant messages.

But I had fun, and will use this model of presentation when I come to talk about Web 2.0 with the people I am working with in aged and community care.

Online resources
Here is a wiki page with a list of online resources that Sue has put together as a result of our presentation.

What would you say was the important thing to get across to Web 2.0 newbies? What are your concerns about using online social networking tools?


Mike Bogle said...

Hi Sarah,

That sounds like a very interesting experience (perhaps in a surreal way). As you had indicated as well, I experimented with Ustream the other day and found it really disconcerting that I couldn't gain any appreciation at all for where the audience was at, if they understood, whether they could hear or see me, or even if they were paying attention.

Personally speaking I have a strong need for feedback or non-verbal communication when presenting or talking to others - and basically the ability to evaluate the consensus of the group or gauge their mood - otherwise it feels as if you're talking in a vacuum.

That's a key skill in online interaction that I think needs to be cultivated - because it's such a foreign concept coming from face-to-face interaction.

Facilitating this sort of meeting takes a much different approach - especially if you want to cultivate a mood where people feel empowered and motivated to contribute to the discussion.

When you aren't visible but for your contributions to a text chat it's all too easy to slip into anonymity and passively view a presenter as you would a TV program.

Interestingly for me this is where I prefer the notion of presenting via SecondLife over Ustream and to a lesser degree Elluminate (when most of the students are text-only) - in SecondLife you gain an appreciation of space and proximity. If you see avatars disappearing or wandering off you can adjust your tempo or tone to re-engage the group.

Ustream gives you minimal stimuli to make these evaluations.



Sarah Stewart said...

I agree that it is very difficult when you cannot see the audience and visa versa. At least Sue was there F2F to give the audience a visual context.

I'm keen to try out ustream TV when I get my Internet sorted - how long have I been saying that!!?? :)

Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Sarah,

Hope you don't mind:

Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you for your kind words, Ray.