“Learning from colleagues via Daniel Greene’s workshop… all from the comfort of my home while my daughter naps. Amazing technology!” — online participant
Yesterday, I included online participants in one of my workshops for the first time. I had used the technology in my teaching practicum last quarter in grad school, but this was the first time I used a Google+ Hangout to give a three-hour workshop as a solo presenter. We had a small turnout for this one, including two participants online and three participants on site. The two online participants connected separately, I had my own connection, and the three onsite participants had two laptops between them, so we had a total of five video connections. A Hangout will hold ten video connections, so we could have had five more Google+ Hangout participants — six more if we had only used one connection for all the onsite participants. And of course we could have had more onsite participants.
I advertised the Google+ Hangout on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog two days before the event. I had online participants register with the site coordinator and pay me directly via PayPal. I had the participants check to see that they had Google+ accounts and send me their Gmail addresses so I could find them on Google+ and add them to a Circle. The site coordinator emailed my handouts and slides to the online participants as PDFs so they could follow along on their screen or print them as they saw fit. She also got the participants’ details so she could process CEUs. The onsite participants had my handouts printed, and I also showed my slideshow on the screen behind me. I conducted the workshop in English, and in addition to using the Hangout for talking, I used the Hangout YouTube app to show a video to the participants. I could have used the Slideshare app to share my slides as well, but I wanted to keep it simple and not “tempt fate” by overloading the system. I told my students I would start a new Hangout and invite them if we all got disconnected; that avoids the problem of people inviting each other and refusing each other’s invitations because each one wants the other to join the Hangout they started.
I was able to harness the technology to extend my teaching, and the students/participants gave me excellent scores and comments on the evaluations. I had hoped for some interpreters of languages other than ASL and English, but as it turned out, we were all ASL/English interpreters. We did experience some packet loss or “freezing video” a couple of times, and the online participants had to reconnect once or twice, but thankfully we never lost the Hangout altogether. We onsite people tended to look at the laptops in front of us more than each other, so it was a bit like we were all online participants. I shared my observation and suggested with some levity those of us in the room “might look at each other once in a while.” We did balance looking at the screens with looking at each other so that all participants felt included.
All-in-all, it was a great experience for all of us. The online/onsite hybrid was a fascinating dynamic with us onsite looking at laptops in front of us, yet I was glad I had participants in front of me onsite as well as online. I’m glad I didn’t cancel the workshop due to low registration, and even though extending the workshop online only brought two extra participants, the small number was cozy and the interaction was rich. It was worth it for what we were all able to learn from each other about getting out of the way and fostering independence.
- Webshop Wednesday – Fostering independence: How interpreters can get out of the way when consumers don’t need us (terptrans.com)
- Google+ Hangouts Get Closed Captioning, Transcripts (mashable.com)
- The Best Google Features You’re Probably Not Using [Google] (lifehacker.com)
- How to Navigate Google+ Hangouts (sixestate.com)
- 5 Ways Every Business Should Use Google+ Hangouts (ducttapemarketing.com)
- Google to merge Hangouts, Talk & Messenger (gigaom.com)
- 5 Reasons Google Hangouts Are Cooler Than Skype For Video Chats (makeuseof.com)