My Virtually Connecting at #2016DML Experience

This post is extracted from a longer, typo ridden I <3 DML post on my own blog

It has been a really, really, really long time since I have been so excited, almost giddy, about a conference experience. Maybe going back to the first Open Education ones, or better yet, to the Northern Voice conferences 10 years ago.

We had a number of Virtually Connecting things happening at DML. The June 2015 conference was one somewhat early in our first year of doing this. That seems like a long time ago!

There can be a bit of uncertainty at the onsite end. Sometimes, the people we work with are able to schedule us a room, but other times we just have to scout a location. Claudia Sullivan from DML knew of our schedule, but the site does not have many, if any meeting rooms. She did suggest one unscheduled room set up as a charging station. For the first one we had planned, where Mia Zamora was the onsite buddy, I wanted to be available to do tech support.. and just watch.

But the room we wanted to use was packed with people and noisy! So we quickly convened to a session room (this was the 30 minutes at the end of the lunch break), and we eventually got booted out. Our onsite guests with Mia included George Station (he may have crashed), Kate Green, and Christian Friedlich. We had all rushed back after grabbing our In-N-Out burgers, and you can see how animated they were.

A very chatty animated crew!
A very chatty animated crew!

You can watch the full recording, I feel bad that Christian did not get many words in (but he sure did later that day in the ignite talks…) I did not have a role here, I just wanted to be around for support.

I did like the way Mia came in with a question that pushed the first bits of conversation from reporting on sessions to a richer level.

I was also part of a 30 minute (that is fast!) presentation Virtually Connecting as a Model for Transformative Learning with Mia Zamora and Andrea Rehn on site plus Maha Bali, Rebecca Hogue, Nadine Abdoulmag, and Autumm Caines coming in virtually.

Lots of things could go wrong with all the variables in doing this, especially the unknowns of shared wireless network access, and we always worry about audio feedback.

There’s a lot to consider when presenting to a room with some presenters coming in via Google Hangout. There is worry about audio feedback. Fortunately it was a small room, and there was no microphone. But the wire for house sound did not connect, and by the time a media tech showed up, I had pulled out my little emergency backup speakers.

But more than that, how can this be done with one projector? We had the Google Hangout so the audience could see and hear the virtual speakers, but how to show the slides?

My approach was to screen share the slides in the hangout, and then, as the initiator of the hangout, do some swapping of camera views from mine (the slides) to Maha, Rebecca, Autumm, and Nadine when they spoke. For speakers in the room, I left the slides on the view. So I was kind of directing shots at a sports event.

There is a trick when using Google slides. You cannot do normal presentation view, because when to goes full screen, you lose access to your Hangout. What works is to open the slides in a new window, and use the option under Present for Presenter View.

presem

A controller pops up in one window, and the slides play, but only filling the window, not the screen. In the Hangout, I use the Screen Sharing tool, and select the window that my slides are in.

It did work, although there is a bit of delay while I move the hangout to the slidedeck to advance the slide. But I think it worked pretty well, I tried flipping the camera view a lot, and also stepping through the faces of the other virtual folks while another was talking.

And here I have been talking about the tech and have not ever mentioned the talk! I thought we did well to have seven speakers talk in 30 minutes, plus we had time at the end for a few questions/comments.

We scheduled another Virtually Connecting session after our presentation, with the idea anyone interested could watch us run a “regular” one, kind of fishtank mode.

Perhaps we did not communicate it clearly, or the end was rushed, or they got all they wanted, but no one showed up beyond the guests we were expecting. I do take any photos, but know it was a fabulous talk with Kim Jaxson and Jonathan Worth (Gardner Campbell popped in too). Helen DeWaard was our virtual buddy host, as usual running things, and calmly, to a very smooth level.

He heard about sessions on Maker spaces and had some stories of those sessions when the audience is really really really tiny (I recalled one conference where I was the whole audience) (and the session was brilliant). Jonathan went on a grand riff about his struggle to use session’s framing of “brokering” and “leveraging” in the context if networked relationships.

It was good conversation, as always it is in Virtually Connecting. Check it out!

The next day was another VC session. This one was again one that was not mine to run, it was Robin DeRosa’s. But Mia and I were continuing the discussion of our Big Idea, and we took the same room they were using. Talking loudly again.

A lot of people were wearing their Hypothes.is shirts this day…

Descarting with Remi

flickr photo shared by cogdogblog under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

Here is where those small conversational bits leap up. The night before at dinner I was catching up with Remi Kalir, he spoke of his recent wedding, and then I was asking what his wife did (it’s cool). And today, what he told me plugged right into The Project in a Big Way, and then as Mia and explained it, Remi got more and more excepted and roped in (and it would have continued if the Victual Connecting session did not have to start).

But this small bit reminds me of the sometimes complex yet wonderful way the online connections can grow unexpectedly more valuable in person, and then back out again.

I stayed only long enough for Robin’s buddied session to capture a photo…

Robin Gets Ready for a Virtual Connecting Session

flickr photo shared by cogdogblog under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

That’s Robin DeRosa hosting with guests Nicole Mirra, Remi Kalir, Jeremy Dean and Joe Dillon. It’s watchable at

Hopefully we brought you enough of the DML Conference experience. Make plans next year, the conference returns to the UCI campus, same time of year.

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