Tech Connect – Baby Steps

Teachers at UGDSB continue to surprise me with their interest in learning new things, despite the incredibly busy teaching schedules they have! I put a shout out to see if any teachers might like to gather together online from the comfort of their own internet connections and learn about using technology in the classroom, expecting about 5 responses. I’ve now sent out the schedule to 18 eager teachers…this should be awesome!

In planning this I’m no expert with Adobe Connect but I have attended a few meetings as a guest and have now run a few conference meetings for ECOO as a host, with the help of my friend Karen Beutler. I’ve used other communication tools like YacPak, skype, ichat, and Elluminate and I think I’m ready to branch out and try using this tool for learning with other teachers, so I’m jumping out of the nest; comfortable with giving this a try and learning along with them to get it going.

I’ve decided to make the first session a welcome one, with a chance for participants to play around with the interface. I’ll have a few goodies to share in order to keep people interested and hopefully wanting to come back! I am imagining these sessions will become interactive webinars where we can share issues and teachers can request what they’d like to learn. I can easily give teachers the option of sharing things with the group as well, so this intrigues me…how interactive might this tool be?

What is best practice with online PD and conferencing software like Adobe Connect?

So far, I’ve gathered the following ideas from my colleagues who’ve used this model, but please add comments if you can share some expertise!

1) If at all possible use two monitors, so that one monitor allows you to see what you are sharing, and the other lets you keep track of the back channel chat which is so important to learning this way.

2) Try to have an attendee who can troubleshoot as your technical person. Upgrade this person to another host presenter so that they can grant permissions if there are technical issues that your attendees are trying to sort out as the session continues.

3) Always begin with a slide that reviews the process of getting connected and checking your audio. With a huge number of people it’s probably preferable that not all attendees us a microphone, but mostly use the chat. (I’d like to experiment with this)

So that’s what I know so far! I love trying new things and usually start with a basic plan and adjust as I go, taking into account the needs of the group and their interests in learning.

Looking forward to any comments that might help!

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