The good, the bad & the online talk

Thanks to a recent blog by CogDog which made me laugh and want to readdress this draft post that I have been reluctant to share.

Talking at a conference is something I whole-heartedly enjoy; from the welcoming address to the sessions, the exhibits and the schmoozing, well, it is an undeniably enriching experience. Unfortunately, in May, circumstances prevented me from attending IALLT in Atlanta, Georgia, notwithstanding my every effort and desire. Fortuitously, I was still able to virtually present via Elluminate Live!, a real-time virtual classroom environment designed for distance education and collaboration in academic institutions and corporate training.

I am extremely grateful that my co-presenter, Sharon Scinicariello of the University of Richmond, indulged me by allowing me to use Elluminate so I could present my contribution to our presentation on Netvibes and Pageflakes (it’s posted on slideshare so feel free to peruse it)iallt09
It really saved what could have been a faux pas on my part (i.e., not presenting) so for this reason, I am thrilled that I have my Elluminate classroom. And there are some things about which I wasn’t so thrilled.

The good, the bad and the chipmunk
Like every good technology user knows, it is always wise to do a run through with the technology before hand to ensure, with a degree of certainty, that there won’t be any issues with the tool being used. Sharon and I had met in my Elluminate classroom to talk about the presentation the day prior to the actual talk. She was in the room assigned to us (the conference logistics worked out perfectly) and I in my home study.

To prepare for the presentation, I would suggest the following:

  • Enter the configuration room prior to the meet-up (this is done independently, and it is suggested that you do it the day before you actually use it, just in case). It is essential that there are no technical issues with a user’s computer or connections.
  • The speaker (me, in this case) should use a headphone with microphone to block out any type of noise. System speakers are fine, however, the background noises are easily transmitted too, so the microphone really limits the sound heard by the audience.
  • Test the audio. Always good to know what you will sound like as your voice is projected on speakers in the room. Also, remember you will hear your own voice and must not let it distract you from your talk. Btw, don’t forget the lag…using an Internet is a blessing as well as a curse: after brief pauses, Elluminate would still transmit what I said, however, I sounded like a chipmunk (high-pitched and very quick…if anyone remembers LPs, it was like playing a 33rpm at 45rpm).
  • Give your co-presenter moderator privileges. Since she is in loco, it makes sense that she control the slideshow and be privy to all the gadgets and features of Elluminate Live!

Now, in terms of giving the presentation, I highlight 5 key points from CogDog’s blog post on Deadly Online Seminars. Read it for yourself to truly appreciate his advice…and humour!

  • Make it hard to even get inside.
  • Don’t let your participants know who else is there.
  • Make it hard or impossible for the audience to communicate with each other.
  • Don’t greet the audience or make them feel welcome. I got into this session 15 minutes before it started, and there was no chat message, no welcome screen (the presenters were flipping slides), and on one greeted or welcomed the audience.
  • Ignore your audience, make ‘em wait til you fill the hour with your voice, do not involve them at all.

I would love to receive any additional advice you may have to offer, as I will be doing another online talk in a few weeks for LARC’s Social Media Safari. Thanks in advance! 🙂

Annunci

Calico ’09 musings

I was fortunate enough to have a paper accepted at the 26th annual conference of Calico ’09,  my first Calico conference ever. It was an experience that surpassed any and all expectations (how often can we say that?!). Different aspects of the conference that made it so memorable include the venue, the presentations, the participants and the discussions that happened online and off.

Arizona State University is a large, modern campus abounding with art, architecture and green space. The fact that the talks were mainly in the lower level of Coor Hall (a glass ice cube with etched text fragments and letterforms) could easily be forgiven, given they were fully equipped to meet all our tech needs.

The presentations I attended were, for the most part, very interesting and engaging. There were 6 concurrent sessions, which made selecting a session quite difficult. Thankfully, there will be podcasts and presentations available on the site (organized by @msiskin) so anything I missed I can listen to at a later date. Getting a glimpse of the gamut of investigations conducted in technology (more specifically, Web 2.0 applications) and foreign/second language learning, was very inspiring. The range of research is incredible…but as @glordward mentioned in her session, we are such preliminary stages of research, focusing much of our research agenda on students’ evaluation of the implementation of various tech tools. Hopefully, in the very near future we will begin to see investigations that demonstrate concrete evidence in terms of benefits to language learning in terms of increased proficiency.

My presentation, 4:30 on the Friday afternoon, went well. I had a smaller turnout (read below to find relativity in this statement) but was well-tweeted on the back-channel thanks to @judifranz, @glordward and @eRomanMe. It was the Pageflakes project, about which I have previously posted, on which I collaborated with @kahnp and @hellermd98. Another little bonus was the idea of Twitter Crowd Status as a widget, thanks to the ingeniuty @sethdickens, which the audience seemed to like.

The participants in the various sessions I attended were equally as engaging as the presenters themselves. I met a number of intelligent, interesting and committed scholars and researchers who provided feedback and were involved in each session. Being able to connect with these people, network with them was rewarding. Even more rewarding would be future collaborations and/or discussions.

From this, I must highlight two different things that occurred during the conference that impacted me the most, both related to Twitter.

The Twitter back-channel
This is the first conference that I attended that had as much of an online discussion via Twitter as it did in the actual presentations. The dynamic presenters were so engaging that they created discussions both in the session and on twitter. Many people in our respective communities joined in on points raised during the presentations as we tweeted them. Read, for example, @eslchill’s post about his presentation being retweeted (i.e., shared with a different twitter following by a member of @eslchill’s community) by someone who wasn’t at the conference. It is a great success when you find approximately 22 pages in a search for the #calico09 hashtag. (Btw, the other hashtag used was #calico2009)

This was a great experience for me, the avid twitter aficionada, to participate actively with so many other great twitter conference goers. Additionally, I had received a DM re a position opening, and that given my interests, as indicated by my tweets at the conference, I might be interested in pursuing. LOL! If only this had happened pre-tenure, maybe I would have considered it 😉

An impromptu presentation on Twitter
My first day at the conference (the first day of sessions) brought about another personal success. There was a presentation to be given, entitled “24/7 Twitter” at 11:00 a.m. The classroom was full—standing room only (about 50+ people; great news for Twitterati). However, the presenter was a no-show. After a few moments, the chair of the session asked if there was anyone who wanted to say something about Twitter. The phenomenal Claire Siskin (@cbsiskin) spoke briefly to what an effective tool Twitter is and then I, in a moment of self-indulgence, commented that the 4th chapter of the monograph, which was given at registration, was based on my initial investigation on Twitter in the intermediate Italian class.

One thing led to another, then I heard myself saying: “Well, if you would like, I could give the presentation. I have my flash drive with me.” Yes, what a über geeky thing to say! The audience was very indulgent and I gave my impromptu talk about my work with Twitter and language learning. I must admit, this was one of my most rewarding, professional experiences.

Calico ’09 was an amazing conference and I look forward to the next year’s conference in Boston. From the conference program, I created this wordle to give you an idea as to the top 200 terms. Enjoy 🙂

wordle

Pageflakes as a LMS

I had the opportunity over the last semester to use Pageflakes as a learning management system for my intermediate Italian course. The basis of this undertaking was the following, as prepared by @kahnp:

This study proposes a project to significantly enhance student success in a college intermediate Italian course by using new technologies and multimedia that will promote different ways of learning “ many of which are not traditionally part of the University classroom” and also support a range of learning styles. For instance, the inclusion of: a) images, charts, maps, videos, and animations to benefit visual learners; b) audio files, especially if these are linked to accompanying text files, to which auditory learners respond; and c) controls that allow students to regulate the way in which they interact with course materials for kinesthetic learners. (Richards, 2003).

Specifically, this presentation will show how Pageflakes was used instead of Bb as the chosen LMS in an Italian course. This customized webpage was used to deliver content in a variety of formats as well as provide the learning environment that promotes social constructivism that is suitable for today’s learner. For example, much of the content will be supported by news feeds using an RSS reader. In addition, students will participate in a variety of group activities as well as interactive exercises that utilize Pageflakes group sharing capabilities, audio and video podcasts, and Twitter, a hybrid micro-blogging and instant messaging system.

From this proposal we went on to conduct a pilot study to assess how content delivery would differ and if this difference does in fact compliment certain learning styles. I appreciate how we all think so, but there needs to be some measurable data to support our claim.

I can share some preliminary materials with you, but not everything for a number of reasons. First, I have one more presentation to give on my Pageflakes and Blackboard project at CALICO in Arizona (March) and I hope to be co-presenting with @sharongs at IIALT in Georgia (May). Second, I have so much data to analyze, I would be falsely presenting my findings if I provide you with perception of how the semester went with both groups.

What I can share with you is what I thought. In terms of preparing the material to share and assign to students, these is a very basic comparison of functional challenges we (@iVenus, @hellermd98 and @kahnp) found:
pf-bbcomp

In terms of the aesthetic layout, compare these for yourself. Which do you prefer? I definitely know what I think is more holistically organized and more appealing.

pf2Pageflakes – project outlinebbBlackboard – project outline

Tell me what you think. I’m very interested if you have any experiences you’d like to share.

thinking about twitter…

[updated: April 16] gapingvoid is back on Twitter! LOL

over a month ago, I had stumbled across the blog of hugh macleod and took a moment to laugh at myself. of course, one thing leads to another then we started following each other on twitter. This morning I noticed he was not tweeting about alpine TX or his book deal, actually he deleted his twitter account. From avid twitterer (‘cause it does get addictive) to deleted twitterer overnight? i was a bit surprised…

the reality of twitter is this: twitter is becoming the next big thing, the it girl, because it is the new communication tool for business (e.g., JetBlue), politics (e.g., Obama), news (e.g., NY times), academia (i.e., my work), and, of course, schmoozing (everyone else who uses it regularly). We use this social networking service to make connections, to collaborate, to discover, to learn in a way that wasn’t possible before this type of tool. A friend mentioned yesterday that news from silicone valley, for example, that previously would take a few days to break (via other forms of communication), is now instantaneous.

of late, twitter has been making some upgrades, simplifying its layout somewhat. it’s not perfect, could use some more improvements (e.g., it apparently loses some replies somewhere out there in the twittosphere) but it is readily accessible via web, OS applications (twhirl, twitterific, spaz), browser apps (firefox), desktop platforms (netvibes, pageflakes), widgets for blogs, facebook, etc., and, last but not least, mobile phones. This accessibility, the 11+ million users (ok, not all regular twitterers), makes twitter worth exploring.

All I have to do now is convince the 18,000 students who attend the university, and the majority of our faculty and staff … no small task. 😉

netvibes, pageflakes, igoogle, live.com

Recently I asked about Pageflakes and it appears that we have more questions than answers about these different personalized start pages, written in AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) (…I learned something new 😉 ) that allow you to create a page with various widgets and RSS feeds. As I always have a project in mind when I tackle new technology, I discovered that Netvibes is the application preferred by  Digital Ethnography but there are not any other instances, as far as my research as revealed, of any of these desktops as courseware platforms.

Last night (or was it in the wee hours of the morning?), I found this article on Cnet.com.au in early March. Their verdict, #1 is Netvibes, and #2 Pageflakes. 

netpage.jpg

Hope you enjoy this find as much as I did. 🙂 

r u 2 old?

txt.jpgI just got off the phone with my sitter’s mom, trying to determine whether her daughter is available this weekend for my “it’s March break and I’m gonna enjoy myself”  escape. Of course, she was unable to determine if her daughter was busy. The conversation went like this:

She: Can you call back after A is home from school?
I: Sure, not a problem.
She: Wait, do you text message?
I: Yes.
She: You must be a cool mom. You text!
I (laughing): I had to learn. Students don’t email, they text. I had to learn to communicate with them their way.
She: Wow. I’m trying but it’s tough. Do you get the Times? There was this great article in the business section yesterday.
I: Yes…
She: It’s called “are you too old?” but it’s the letter R, letter U…
I: Yes, I have it right in front of me. (it was the online version at which I was looking)
She: And it has a list of all the abbreviations…
I: I see it.
She: Well, here is A’s number. You could call if you want, but maybe you should text her.
I (still laughing): Thanks, I will.
 

It’s funny, ‘cause I’ve said this before commenting on a post on terminally incoherent‘s blog, I straddle the technological horse, but apparently as a prof & mom, perhaps am conceived as being “2 old”, then again as a technophile who blogs, twitters, texts, & now pageflakes (although I gave up on facebook), other moms and some profs look at me as if I’m from another planet. 😀

test-driving pageflakes

Pageflakes is an application that has been around for over a year, but, like many things, I sometimes get around to things a little late…hopefully, unlike past things, it is not too late. It is a competitor to Netvibes, iGoogle, etc. that uses widgets and modules to create your personal pagecast and share it or keep it to yourself.

I set up my personalized pageflakes startpage and am interested in playing more with it. Like many things, I am trying to take baby steps, to determine what it is I wish to do with it and where I believe I might be able to do with it (or it can do for me)

 pageflake.jpg

Does anyone already have a pagecast? Are there any suggestions, comments or feedback with which you could provide me?  Delving into new Web 2.0 apps is exciting, but since I tend to push the “pedal to the metal”, maybe a speed detector is the way to go this time…