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Anna's design narrative - Presenting at an online webinar
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28 March 2013
I undertake research in the area of Open Educational Resources (OER) and need to be able to share project findings in an engaging way, both face-to-face and online.
This activity was part of the Open Education Week which took place from 11-15 March 2013 online and in locally hosted events around the world which were freely available to anyone with Internet access. The purpose of Open Education Week is to raise awareness of the open education movement and opportunities it creates in teaching and learning worldwide. I was invited to contribute to one of the webinars because of my work on the ACTOER (Accessibility Challenges and Techniques for Open Educational Resources) project.
I was asked to contribute to a webinar "Designing OERs with Diversity in Mind" with two other co-presenters. Our success would be measured by whether we managed to attract any participants on the day and engage them in dialogue about OERs and accessibility; further measure would also be the number of downloads of the webinar slides from Slideshare where they would be posted.
1. I was first contacted three months prior to the event by the organiser who wanted to find out about my interest and availability.
2. Once myself and two co-presenters were onboard, we had to agree on a time and date for the webinar as well as for a rehearsal- this proved to be somewhat challenging as we had to choose a time that would accommodate three different time zones: UK (GMT), Canada (Toronto GMT-4) and USA (California GMT-7). In the end, we picked 4 p.m. UK time which was 12:00 p.m. in Toronto and 9:00 a.m. in California
3. Three weeks prior to the event we developed and shared our slides via email.
4. One week before the event we had a "dry run" of the webinar so that on the day we would be familiar with the Blackboard Collaborate platform. This gave us a chance to talk about the running order, any changes to the slides and sort out technical glitches. The meeting was useful because it allowed us to coordinate the content of the three presentations and make sure that they are connected and flow quite well.
5. The actual webinar took one hour and seven participants took part in the online session.
The session was recorded and the recording is now available from the Open Education website. The slides were posted on Slideshare and attracted over 2000 views.
Personally, the key challenge was the lack of immediate feedback from the participants - when delivering my presentation, it felt as if I was talking into a void as I missed out on verbal/non-verbal cues from other people in the session. The lack of feedback was quite unnerving as I could only guess whether people were engaging or not, for all I knew, they could be asleep at their computers or mindlessly surfing the Internet; however judging by the questions typed in the chat box they seemed to be listening. I enjoyed participating in the back channel and the chance to share my expertise by posting links to projects with resources that the participants were interested in.
I was initially disappointed that only seven participants "showed up" as the session took up so much of my time and effort to prepare but was consoled by the fact that the outreach was much wider thanks to Slideshare. At the same time, the low turnout at the online session doesn’t come as a surprise, I was planning myself to participate in other Open Education Week events but ended up not being able to attend anything; while the online events were easily accessible they still required carving out "real time" which was a challenge.