I almost participated in a full day synchronous online event today - I say almost because I was interrupted by dealing with a flooded basement and a sick child that needed to come home (besides, of course, my deadlines and ringing phone). But, I did pick up a few tidbits that I wanted to share.
I really wanted to participate in this event for several reasons. First, the focus was on rapid development of e-learning using Powerpoint as the foundation. I own Articulate, a tool that converts ppt and audio to flash output - and I fully know I'm not fully leveraging the tool and so am interested in tips and ideas. But equally important, I was very curious as to if / how the sponsor (e-learning Guild) could hold my attention for three 1 1/2 hour sessions while I was at my office desk with the potential for numerous interuptions and distractions.
Unfortunately, my personal issues didn't let me fully explore either, but luckily the Guild records the sessions (in flash output - with audio and slides - using Breeze) so I can listen and learn later. Regarding holding my interest, that's a tough one. Now, it didn't help that I had contractors coming and going that needed signatures, etc. and a phone call from my son's daycare informing me that I needed to pick him up...and then him here with me! But, that aside (can you really put that aside?!), I still found myself checking and responding to e-mail, answering my phone, and trying to even multi-task a written piece. My personal lesson learned here is that if I really want to focus on a an e-learning event, I need to clear my desk, SHUT down all other programs on the computer and turn my phone ringer off. Heading out to Starbucks with a wireless laptop sounds like a good idea, but they say the wireless connection really diminished the voice-over-Internet quality. I actually prefer the voice-over-phone so that if I do need to step away from my desk, I can take the phone with me and still hear the presentation.
Anyway, during my limited time on, the speakers did a great job of engaging us. PGI #1: at frequent intervals, they either polled us, asked us to post a response to a question via chat, presented learning quizzes, etc. In other words, they didn't just speak AT us...and that did seem to make a difference.
PG #2: At the beginning of the session, when everyone was still logging on, they had a slide show running with nice music in the background. This is usually wasted time and I find myself frustrated as we wait for the last minutes joiners. But, this time I was engaged in:
- Reminders on how to locate and print handouts
- Instructions and suggestions for participating fully in the event
- Instructions on how to later hear the session recording
- Viewing all the Companies participating in the call (these "thanks for joining us" screens were a nice touch)
- Introducing myself to others and reading theirs via chat (also a nice touch and I "met" another association exec in my area that I didn't know)
I'm going to try my luck again tomorrow for the second of the 2-day event, and I'll post any additional PGIs I pick up. But, I'm not real optimistic about my distractions decreasing. Someone still has to get those drafts out to the BOD, get Matthew to the doctor, and let those darn contractors in...and unless some small miracle happens overnight, it's gonna be me. Anyone with some PGIs on how to balance work and personal life, please send them my way. ;-) Now, I'm back to work.