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Not being there

25 May 2009

A hot topic in my cash-strapped organisation is video-conferencing: now that spending money on work-related travel is as welcome as leaking ministerial receipts to a vicious media, the video equipment and conferencing connections previously assessed as of irredeemably poor quality are being dusted off and re-housed in meeting rooms of regional offices across the state.

In a similar vein, I have joined a project which is focussed on creating screen-based mini how-tos, using Captivate or short grab video footage, as well as the remote screen manager Tight VNC, to deliver training in publishing applications to our widely distributed staff.

scones at a conferenceAn older paper on virtual conferencing (‘Virtual conferences versus face-to-face conferences, or, Why do we bother to travel to conferences although we’re e-learning experts’: Santo, S., Thompson, R. & Kimura, B. 2006, panel discussion for the World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education, Chesapeake, Virginia, accessed from EdITLib via university library) presents polar views on what can be achieved meeting face-to-face compared with meeting virtually, and concludes that it is largely up to the interaction style of the individual – Thompson asserts that when ‘we interact in an online environment, we may not be ourselves’, while Santo feels that in every virtual conference she has attended, whether as participant or presenter, she has interacted more online than she would have at a physical conference, and that the discussion often continues long after the conference has closed.

My recent discovery is that, depending on the tweet author, I can learn a great amount from following the hashtag of a conference: Lynda Kelly, co-founder of the Museum 3.0 ning, is a particularly valuable relay-er of the information nuggets of conferences I will never be able to physically attend.

Non-virtual scones: image uploaded to Flickr under Creative Commons by tim_d

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