Chalk It Up To Learning

The two-and-a-half-hour nightmare commute after OpenPD last night was, for me, an educational time of reflection. With the thousands of other folks that apparently could find no better place to enjoy a good snowstorm, I sat in my car wondering what we had learned during last night’s class.

Here’s a quick summary of what I learned:

  • A group activity creating Google Presentations can be a definite challenge if members of your groups are spread over the globe.
  • In such an activity, establishing communication is a very important first step.
  • It would be very nice if the entire Google Docs suite would incorporate the same collaborative chat feature that is employed in the Spreadsheets sub-application. Sheesh, we can chat while working on a spreadsheet – why can’t we chat while working on a presentation or word processing document?
  • Given that chat isn’t integrated into Google Presentations, we should have set up a separate chat-room ahead of time for each group. That way we wouldn’t have needed to do the communications shuffle for 15 minutes before participants were able to dive into the project.
Speaking of chat…
  • The Meebo chat-room we had embedded on our class Get Connected page worked great – until a troll or two joined in on our party. Last night’s attempts to keep unwanted rif-raf out of our class discussions were frustrating, to say the least. In the end, I learned that public Meebo rooms may not be the answer I had originally thought.
  • After switching from the Meebo chat-room to the Ustream equivalent, we thought we had out-smarted the pranksters – until yet another troll joined us in the Ustream chat. It wasn’t until too late that I learned how to assign moderators for the Ustream chat. I also learned that moderators must be participating in the Ustream chat on the Ustream channel itself (moderating won’t work if you’re using an embedded chat-room).
While open-ness should be embraced, it is still very important to maintain order. I’m afraid that a password-protected environment may be the only solution.

On a positive note, check out the presentations (below) that our three groups created. Not bad for teachers with little Google Docs experience and little time.

  • I learned that Jen Wagner has a great sense of humor. After our initial experiences with the Meebo chat-room, we were all a little frustrated with famegirl, the persistent troll that we just couldn't get to quit. It was after we had switched to Ustream that Jen decided to pull a fast one: she briefly switched her nickname to famegirl, causing quite a roar!
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