Autumn is here – and the conference season is upon us. Unfortunately I was unable to attend LearningLive in person this year, but was lucky enough to take part in Mike Collin’s session ‘Live Online Learning’. He has included a link to a recording of the event in his blog post on the day.
In my organisation, we have been using Webex for a couple of years now – Webex was introduced by Mike and had a small but regular take up. At first our trainers didn’t really know what to do with this tool, apart from showing a presentation and people using the chat function. With budgets ever on the squeeze, the benefits of using a tool like this are becoming more apparent, both for meetings and virtual training. More and more trainers in our department are enquiring and using some sort of virtual tool. Unfortunately, our licences for Webex have not been renewed, and so we are currently using a tool called ‘Genesys’ which is not really a virtual classroom tool. We will hopefully have something more interactive in the near future.
Having already used Webex before, I was familiar with its functionality, but joining Mike in his session opened up a new slant on using the tool – using it live during an event where people were in a room. The LSG conference was done completely online this year and was a great event – it allowed people to log in, where ever they were in the world and participate in the sessions. This reminded me a little of these sessions but with a difference. We that logged in online could hear the reaction of the audience in the room and I felt like I was participating in the whole atmosphere of the event.
This could be used not only in conference situations, but also for training situations where the possibility of reaching far more people than are ‘attending’ or physically in the room is possible. This would also mean that courses would need to be designed with this in mind – how do you engage ‘virtual’ people as well as the people in the room? There was one point in Mike’s presentation where we tried to see the audience, but somehow the technology did not respond as we expected. I know that Mike is considering this for other situations, but these are just a few points that I am considering and suggesting to our learning team.
- Get an assistant. Mike would not have been able to control the session as he did with out the ‘flip chart fairy’ @ColinSteed. (I’m afraid the moniker is going to stick for a while Colin!) Someone who is on hand to deal with the technology, field questions from the virtual audience and generally keep things on track.
- Technology – of course this will need to be checked and made sure that what you want to do will work. A microphone for people in the room who are asking questions and a camera set up would be good.
- Bring in both audiences – Mike did a great job of this, getting us virtual people to interact with the presentation and take part in a few ‘games’.
- I’m sure that some of the technical blips were to do with bandwidth of both the venue and we who were online. Perhaps this was the problem with the video – I was viewing from work which has a low bandwidth. I don’t know how this could be overcome – unless a session was built with the lowest common denominator in mind (here goes the corporate mindset….)
The final point I wanted to make was that more conferences would benefit from having this functionality included. People could sign up for the sessions they want to attend and could participate either online or attend ‘live’. However, there must be some benefit from attending live especially if you are paying to attend. I know one of the major benefits of attending conferences like this are to network and meet up with other L&D professionals or members of your PLN, but if you could get the same information from the session by not physically attending, then everyone would want to attend online. Maybe if there was a cost involved in attending, but was not as much as attending in person, this could help pay for some of the peripheral services which are attached to staging these conferences – such as the free wifi, internet access etc..
This has certainly given me something to think about and suggest to my team. Has anyone used something similar in their learning design? I’d love to hear your thoughts – or take the brief poll.