Is the Grim Reaper Waiting For Elluminate?

Is it just me or is anyone else frustrated with the way in which most presenters have been using Elluminate to express their ideas? I have seen about twenty webinar presentations  and most of the time presenters have adopted the traditional didactic practise of illustrating findings for most of the scheduled time, then allowing the remaining  five minutes of a presentation for questions and answers. During the course of their lectures I can’t help but wonder about the lost opportunities to hear from the other participants or in many cases…observers. Sometimes I have wondered whether webinars are just another expensive anachronistic device and my patience has been waning as a participant in this online experience but there is reason to hope! Hope for a truly participatory online experience arrived during a sixty minute presentation by George Siemens at LearnTrends 2009. In his presentation he harnessed the ideas of some of 100 participants by allowing people to contribute ideas regarding the challenge of finding balance in the apparent dichotomies of learning support structures. It was an engaging open ended discussion about these realities. Below are a few screen shots of the presentation.

After a brief introduction about his topic and the an explanation of how his presentation would progress, he provided a quick tour of the recommended Elluminate whiteboard tools that we should use then posed his first question to the group:

” What dualistic principles do you deal with when supporting learning in the workplace?”

As the whiteboard filled  with ideas someone eventually remarked (in the chat window) that this was too busy for them. George suggested that this was just ‘stage one’ in allowing ideas to be exchanged. From this initial template, ideas could be categorised and examined for emerging patterns.

In subsequent slides he asked participants to mark or remark on areas where they also experienced tensions in working with different perspectives.

It was fascinating to watch participants take ownership of this exchange. In the slide below George was trying to compare the continuum of perspectives we must hold in order to maintain relevancy with any implementation process. He said, “Just imagine that the left and right side of the screen are labelled with ‘Gladwell and Laskas’.” He had reviewed this same slide earlier in his presentation with the same clarifying comment and repeated this request again when he posted the graphic a second time but this time one of the participants just wrote words on the left and right side of the screen so that it would be clearer.

This session was an inspiring example of how to provide a context with which people can exchange ideas, doubts, needs, questions and insights. I highly recommend you watch this presentation if you are looking for an Elluminate best practice illustration.

3 responses to “Is the Grim Reaper Waiting For Elluminate?

  1. I was speaking to an instructor who teaches business communication recently about what she covers with her students in her curriculum. She outlined all the different business communication tools you would expect – memos, emails, presentations, along with some facilitation techniques. When I asked her what she did with regards to online presenting and facilitating in an online environment, she looked at me and said, “Nothing. Do you think that’s important?”

    • Wow. I can imagine the staggering silence after this question was uttered. When I was searching for best practice examples of webinar technology I discovered that the corporate world shows the most interest in promoting the effective use of online communication in order to promote strong client relationships. This instructor’s question also exemplifies how isolating the teaching experience can be. How did you respond?

  2. I think I was a bit too enthusiastic with my “ABSOLUTELY”, but it was a nice teachable moment and she was quite receptive to what I had to say. Just so happened that she had just read an article about the increased use of teleconferencing as a result of H1N1-phobia, so the topic was fresh and topical for her.

    This was a few weeks ago and I haven’t seen her since. But this conversation is a nice spark for me to follow up & find out if anything came of it.

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