Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mindful of how we learn regardless of format

Today I sat through a webinar about Google Apps Education. Did the webinar meet my expectation? I must answer a big fat NO. I will not hold the presenters accountable for not meeting my expectations because there are two aspects to every presentation a person attends that impacts their view of meeting expectations. First, is the format in which the presentation takes place. It was a virtual presentation. The presenters were using a well known web conferences software. The presenters were comfortable with the software and able to use the features that were needed. However, this is the first webinar that I have sat through that the participants were not able to interact with the presenters or other participants. If you wanted to ask a question, you had to write it in the question box and hope they got to your question or felt it was important enough. The best analogy that I can think of: you go to the doctor’s office, you sign in and the receptionist tells you that the doctor will be right with you. Two hours later, you are still sitting there waiting while everyone that came in after you gets to see the doctor.

I think the second area is the concern of the participant especially in a webex presentation is understands how your learning style affects your ability to participate in the presentation. If I use the Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence, I am interpersonal. I enjoy interacting with others, I want to participate in sharing information and experiences. This presentation did not allow me to interact so I became disengaged to what the presenters were doing. I am also a kinesthetic learner. For me to feel part of the presentation I often need to physically be involved. For some presentation, this is not possible so I will try to take notes. This allows me to remember the information that is being shared.

This presentation made me sit down and evaluate my learning styles and why I did not feel my expectations were met. There was one big gorilla staring at me. It came down to format, material being covered and my ability for buy in.

Format is a format that I typically crave. I am not a brick and mortar person. I do not like sitting and hearing a lecture. I want to be able to work at my own pace. I want to be able to split my attention between tasks. The webex classes are typically perfect for me. If I zone out, I can always go back and re-listen and watch.

Materials there were no handouts, outlines or references that were sent to the participants. So unless you followed 100% on screen and could follow their flipping and moving between screens and jumping between presenters.

The buy in is always so important. Being a consultant, I do not have much say in the district technology plan or how technology will be used in the district. I would love the opportunity to be part of a district team one day helping integrate technology and AT into just technology for all learners. For right now, it is more a curiosity thing. Like a cat, I was killed.

The concept of the presentation is how this school district had their staff and students using Google Apps Education. It was a wonderful strategy that they started with saying it was just a calendar to their staff. There was a team behind the scene building the resources for the teachers. As the teachers became more proficient at using the calendar tool, the behind the scenes crew was adding information. There was no expectation beyond “it’s a calendar”. I love the concept and may try to implement it with some of my teachers and parents that I support. I think it has wonderful possibilities.

As for now, I have learned a valuable lesson; virtual presentations still need to be mindful of individual learning styles and we need to make sure that our audience feels connected to us regardless.








Chris said...

At the time of this writing, I've only presented once via a webinar-style format. We were cognizant going in of trying to engage the audience using different learning styles and we did our best. Ultimately, we really had to work to try to keep the audience engaging, trying to break it up with videos, polls, and whatever else we could think of to keep people interacting. Nice post! Keep 'em coming!

Jeannette Van Houten said...

Like you, I have only completed one true webex. It will always be a challenge to engage everyone however, as a presenter regardless of the format, we must make sure that our audience is not feeling excluded from the conversation. It sounds like you had a wonderful mix of medias.