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Eduignite Rotovegas: Building your online PLN (cross-blogged from

A couple of weeks this call went out on twitter

Not only do I love helping out my friends +Annemarie Hyde and +Marnel van der Spuy, this was also an excellent opportunity to a) push myself a bit further and b) to progress with my inquiry of how to build capacity for blended learning for rural and isolated teachers - funnily enough in this case I presented from a rural location to a room full of teachers in Rotorua about Building your online PLN

+Sonya Van Schaijik+Justine Hughes and I had a quick practise during the week with Sonya as usual very competently managing all technical aspects :) Looking back over the four online presentations I have given over the last 6 months, this time I felt the most confident yet. There is a bit to get used to when presenting online through a GHO (Google Hangout - or when it gets recorded, a Google Hangout on Air):

  • You need to have your presentation ready to go, with consideration to bandwidth (amount and size of images, use of Powerpoint / Keynote vs. Google Presentation).
  • Your technical setup needs to work (I tend to plug the ethernet cable into my laptop now - so that excludes presenting from my Chromebook or my MacBook Air) incl. microphone and headphones, you need to have the Google Hangout Plug-in installed
  • Within Google Hangout you should explore the various settings and tools, e.g. Toolbox which allows you to show your name and an image at the bottom of your screen etc.
  • What are you going to say? With TeachMeetNZ and Eduignite you have rules about length of presentation and are supposed to auto-advance slides every 15s, there isn't much your audience can see / read in 15s and not much you can say (especially when you have an accent like me:D). I must admit after talking with the lovely +Diana Wilkes I decided to print off my speaker notes - there you go, paper is still important!
  • The one slightly disconcerting thing when presenting is that you only see your own screenshare (your presentation) and don't see or hear anyone else (all other cameras and mics get turned off to preserve bandwidth). It is challenging to present without having any form of verbal or non-verbal feedback!

I love the learning that comes from these sessions. It was great to hear from Sonya about the origins of TeachMeetNZ - which will turn 1 in May! If you haven't done so, please go and visit the TeachMeetNZ site and listen to the recordings from previous presentations. You can also contact Sonya (@vanschijik) if you would like to use this platform to run your own event. Justine very passionately spoke about how she does not give homework anymore but instead has her students 'prep for learning'. I definitely want to find out more about this, and I will go back to her presentation and follow the links from there (I have never been in favour of giving homework as a teacher, back in my days as music teacher I used to say to the students practising your instrument / voice is enough homework). I wish I could have stayed online to listen to the presentations in the room, however, I was able to read the twitter stream and joined in some of the learning that way.

Where does this fit in with my inquiry: The presentations have all been recorded and are available individually (thanks Sonya!) on the TeachMeetNZ site. Anyone can go and rewind them as many times as they like. You will also find the respective presentation embedded into the individual pages. Teachers can now go and listen to these in their own time. Where my inquiry comes in is to help teachers find such recordings when they need them - otherwise we are simply preaching to the converted, aren't we? A typical 'Kiwi thing' stands in my way, I don't really like to blow my own trumpet; while I don't mind presenting f2f to groups of people I know or groups of strangers, I find it much harder to tell people "go and listen to my recording" - it's much easier to say for example "go and listen to Justine's recording, and by the way, my recording is on that site, too". That will be my next little hurdle to get over I suppose...

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Comment by Hazel Owen on April 28, 2014 at 19:54

P.S. I forgot to mention that I have just put together a wee guide around facilitating participatory webinars. While it's focussed on a specific course (tertiary), some of the general principles are similar, and I thought you may find it useful :-) (and any feedback is very much appreciated).

Comment by Hazel Owen on April 28, 2014 at 14:00

What a great initiative...and it must have taken a lot of courage to jump in and grasp this opportunity. Good on you! I love the fact it was a collaborative effort too, and that you were there for each other support-wise. 

It is really tough, for sure to 'present' when you can't see the folks who are in the session with you. I remember the first webinar I presented...I was using Prezi, and, cheerfully (not knowing a whole heap of the top tips for keeping folks engaged in a webinar-type situation), I burbled on merrily, not realising that the Prezi wasn't advancing. Finally - after about 10 mins, someone managed to catch my attention (my Prezi was on full-screen so I couldn't see the chat box). I was gutted, and at that point realised that many of the folk who had 'turned up' for my session had tuned out. That's the beauty, I guess, of having guides in line such as slides advancing every 15 seconds....

The whole notion of sharing one of your own presentations...I guess, in part, it's how you frame up the recordings; in other words, I feel it's different recommending a session that someone may find useful to address a specific query or challenge, to sharing widely (although there is always the option for folks not to watch :-p). I also find that sharing something I've written or a diagram etc I've created, somehow easier to share than say a video or audio recording. I wonder if that's because of the medium, or because of the style? Is it because it feels more familiar writing than recording...once you've said something and it's out there, it's way more tricky to edit it :-)?

I'm just about to hop on a plane, so I'd better sign off for now.Thanks as always, Monika, for sharing your great experiences and learning, and putting it out there. You're a gem.

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