Reflections on delivery of “Evolving approaches to the HEA’s UK PSF”

These personal reflections are about the practical aspects of running a multi-presenter webinar.

This TLC webinar was designed as a combination of three 15 minute presentations followed by an expert panel discussion where the panel was made up of the experts who made the presentations.  See here for the full session plan. and here for a recording of the full webinar.

Technically and logistically this was one of the most challenging TLCs we have organised. The presenters were from three different institutions using very different set-ups as follows.

Presenter(s)
/Facilitator
Institution Set-up
Chrissi Nerantzi TLC Facilitator MMU Facilitated the event from a podcasting room on campus at MMU.  Used a PC via wifi connection and a USB headset with microphone and earphones.
Kath Botham (Presenter)

Kath_Web

MMU Presented individually from the same podcasting room as Chrissi on campus at MMU.  Used a different PC via wifi connection and a USB headset with microphone and earphones.
Paddy Turner and Juliet Hinrichsen
(Presenters)Pad_Jul_Web
Sheffield Hallam University Presented jointly from the same location in a meeting room on campus at Sheffield Hallam.  Used a networked PC.  Shared a desk top (directional) microphone, Logitech external webcam and external speakers from the PC.
Ale Armellini and Shirley Bennett (Presenters)

Shirley_Web

 

University of Northampton Presented jointing but from different physical locations.

Ale was at the British library using a laptop on a wireless internet connection.  Used a jack plug headset but was unable to use audio (due to the working environment) so listened in via his headset and contributed via text in the chat pod.

Shirley presented from an office at Northampton using a Macbook over a wireless internet connection. Initially set-up using a USB headset with microphone and speakers (borrowed from Ale)

I think it is fair to say that we experienced some challenges with the audio quality during the webinar.  Some speakers were relatively loud while others were very quiet and we took some time getting audio to work at all in one case meaning that we needed to shuffle the order of the presentations.  The range of different set-ups contributed to the challenge of getting the audio levels right.  It was a bit stressful behind the scenes, but everyone rose to the challenge and we got things working in the end.

Despite the technical issues with the audio the format, the session seemed to be well received by participants and I have had several tweets and emails from participants thanking the presenters for a very informative and interesting TLC.  Personally, I think the range ideas and experiences that we heard about from the different contributors made up for the technical issues.

I was particularly pleased at how well the use of aPresent_Poll free text poll worked to solicit questions during the individual presentations (click on thumb nail for a full view of the presentation layout).

 

Panel_PollsFrom my point of view this worked  especially well when all three polls were brought together on a single layout for the panel discussions (click on thumbnail for a full view). Unfortunately, we had to adapt the running order of Shirley’s presentation until after questions had been put to Kath and Juliet and Paddy while we sorted out the audio problems. However, I thought that Chrissi very skillfully managed this and the approach worked well to pull key questions together for  the panel discussion. I would be interested to hear a participants view of this so please share your thoughts via the page comments.

Overall, this proved to be both a technically challenging webinar and a very rich sharing of experiences and expertise that brought multiple voices together in a very short time. Hopefully, the difficulties experienced will help us refine our approach in the future. For example we’ll do our best to find time to have a dry run with all of the presenters and facilitators at the same time as I think this would have probably enabled us to iron out some of the audio issues in advance.

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About Rod Cullen

I am a Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching Technologies in the Learning Innovation Team at Manchester Metropolitan University. I have gained considerable experience over almost 20 years in design, delivery and evaluation of online learning, teaching and assessment. I am particularly interested in assessment and feedback practice as well as the emerging role of web conferencing technologies to support blended and distance learning.

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