Friday, May 28, 2010

Video Conference Call with Macau Educators

It was a pretty exciting experience - at 2 levels:

  • Having the opportunity to share our "fruits" with overseas partners in an interactive manner via the virtual space
  • Immerse in the "video conference call" experience

It was on 19 May 2010, when we (Ching Ya & myself) did our very first SST video conference call to interact with overseas educators.

In the past, I had experience a couple of voice-only conference call. Well, frankly speaking, it's just like having more than 2 parties doing a telephone conversation. I think the only challenge is knowing who's speaking - as there're more than one party involved. Yes, it could be rude when one interrupts. It could also be confusing if 2 other parties sound similar!

For those who have done video skype might think our experience is trivial 小巫见大巫. But I guess, no matter how small a step, it's deem as a giant step if it's the first time :D Moreover, it's not just video conference, but copied with screen sharing! It's the entire presentation package!

Indeed, thanks to Apple for this opportunity - inviting us to share our learning points and the use of technology in learning in our 5-month journey. I think, apart from getting the platform to showcase the good work we have done so far, it's also the experience of using the online communication technology in an integrated seamless manner :D

The preparation, one might think it's simple... but things to take note include:

  • Having a stable connnection between the event venue at Macau and SST in Singapore! Indeed, in SST alone, we tested 2 venues - the staff room where my workstation is, as well as the Meeting Room, which landed up as our choice. We learnt that no matter what, cable connection is still most stable. A definite NO to the mobile connection dongle (which in the first place, is not made for that purpose).
  • For connection purpose, I created an AOL account so that I could use connect via this account in iChat. Well, these are the little technicalities.
  • Other little things to observe includes background/foreground lighting, voice projection.
  • The choice of projection of materials - whether it's through screen sharing or via the iChat share feature - it makes a difference.
  • We also learnt that it takes about 5 seconds for the screen to be 'stablise' (especially when switching and scrolling of screen is involved) before talking... otherwise... we would really sound like a 'broken record'! hahah...

Of course, to be able to manage all-of-the-above technicalities, we have Shin Fatt, Jiunn Hao and Timothy (from Macau) to thank! Else, the entire transmission process would not have been so smooth :D

Indeed, there were several phases to the entire sharing/presentation package:

  1. Virtual greetings via the video chat - at least we know how the environment that the participants are seated - ah! we notice they all had a macbook in front of them! The room also seemed to be dominated by men! Well, like it or not, having a visual impression makes a difference to a presenter... otherwise would be like a 盲头苍蝇.
  2. Setting the context to provide the background of SST, as well as our approach on ICT integration in the school. This was done through the keynote presentation which was projected via screen sharing.
  3. Showcase of students' work via Blog - which we did some 'switches' in-between... between the blog pages and websites we showed, as well as the videoclips (accessed and shown via the Macau connection.
  4. Switching back to Video chat for a short Q&A session.

Preparation is critical to iron out the technical issues. It also provides the presenter an idea on areas need to look out for when presenting via this platform (e.g. speak slower, getting all the necessary information & screens ready prior the session).

As a whole, the experience was a great one :D

There are several things that we learnt through this experience:

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