This morning I awoke early quite excited about participating in what the organizers/planners of Leaders of Learning called a collosal online experiment. Over 140 students from all parts of the world went online having figured out when 1:30 p.m. UTC was and registered for what was billed as an Un Hangout. Not versed in this form of video conferencing, I watched the video clip overview and thought that especially with my new laptop I would be equipped to navigate through this brave new world.
Well, yes and no.
Yes, I determined the correct time to log on. Yes, I joined my virtual classmates in the virtual lobby listening first to a recorded video clip and then a live one from the main professor for this class. At this point, we were supposed to go into designated break out groups to discuss fairly general questions posed by Dr. E. So far so good. But when I actually did this I found that I could only hear the moderator but none of my other classmates. And the other people in the break out groups were experiencing their own technical problems likely due to the limitations and/or presence or lack of headsets, microphones and speakers.
People started to ‘leave’ these groups perhaps in search of a group where everything worked until the migration was almost total and the remaining participants were back in the lobby listening to the prof as we would have been in a traditional setting. The only difference is that the prof wasn’t wearing a suit and tie like before and there were MIT students in the background who decided to video bomb the sign off by the prof which was amusing.
Seven years ago I embarked on a Masters program in Educational Technology at the University of Calgary mostly online but some f2f classes at summer school were included. At that time, video feeds did not exist and the sound quality was poor during the twice or three time a term live audio sync up. I mostly put my academc efforts into asynchronistic posting of comments that I did at odd times of the day or night because I was fitting in one class at a time along with the demands of full time teaching.
Fast forward to this morning…Ever hopeful that this ambitious virtual meet up would actually work in real time it was a bit disappointing to both me and the remaining participants who had stuck around to see what was going to happen instead of the break up groups that we had anticipating joining.
Perhaps next time…