I was asked to give a teacher-training workshop on teaching with technology. However, there was one little glitch – I was going to be in Malta on the specified date, while the teachers I was to train were in Germany.
An element of “thinking outside the box” was what was required of me. I reasoned that the topic was how to teach with technology…therefore what better way to deliver the workshop than by actually using the technology to make the workshop happen. I found a way to be at two places simultaneously – by means of the internet.
What we did was quite simple actually, looking at it in hindsight, albeit slightly innovative. By means of very basic freeware (Elluminate: www.learncentral.org) I set up a virtual classroom, and sent each participant an invitation email, in which there was a link to be able to join the “classroom”. Each participant in turn had to click on the link at the specified date and time, and once we were all present, we switched on our microphones and webcams…we were all present in a virtual classroom. On the “board” I presented my talk in powerpoint format, and set tasks for the participants to do, which included looking up terms on the internet, and also creating their own mini presentation.
What was different about this session, is that all the participants, except myself, were all sat in the same computer lab. They only needed their computers to communicate with me, but could communicate with each other in the traditional way – that is, face-to-face.
It was great to see a nice mixture of seasoned technology users, as well as novices, who all managed to complete the set tasks, asked me questions, and communicated with me as though I were physically in the room. The only pitfall was that I could not share a coffee with them during the break!
It was great to be able to lead a successful teacher-trainer session from the comfort of my office, while the participants still got to attend the session, meet each other, as well as interact with me.
This is a great way to bridge the physical gap of space. I managed to do the teacher-training session successfully, even though I was not physically in the room. It was great to be able to see and hear all the participants, and vice versa.
It was such a successful session – and cheaper for the organisers since they did not have to fly me to Germany – that I was asked to do a follow-up session a few weeks later. All I needed to do was clear my calendar for three hours, not two days, as would have been the case previously, and send the participants an email with the link to the virtual classroom. Technology has really changed our lives, by allowing us to be present, without physically leaving our offices.