Online conferences are the next wave in professional development and I must admit, there are of course glitches, but there’s also lots of potential.
My first conference was actually a NING invitation from one of our IT guys in Honolulu. The invite was to the NECC (it’s a tech conference) in San Antonio. I didn’t go to the conference, but you can be a virtual participant and get all the handouts, see the wikispaces with the powerpoints or videos, and even participate through webstream or ustream tv. It’s basically a way to see the presentation real time from your computer and chat with other people watching the presentation. NING is like a social website centered around a specific event or class, etc. It allows you to network, find people that are interested in the same aspect of the conference that you’re interested in and exchange thoughts, tips, etc. It allows people to start discussions, blog, upload video, and basically ask questions to the whole conference. The thing with this one is that lots of people were there, and lots weren’t, but it was an actual conference.
This second conference is called the Knowledge Bank Conference 08 and it’s out of Melbourne, Australia, but there’s no conference per se. Everything is in the virtual world. There’s no convention center with breakout sessions and a gallery of exhibitors, this is all online and it’s live web sessions with your computer and a microphone set up. The speaker speaks, we all check in, they ask questions, we respond, we chat, we can ask questions through the chat of the speaker and at the end when they ask for discussion and questions, a moderator can turn on your mic and you speak. I did some of these types of classes through NCTE (teachers of English) last school year and it helps to have a microphone from Kerry and ear buds, plus the one hour alloted time. Things move fast and you have to be multiliterate. Here’s an example of the topics:
9am – Session 1 – Introducing Web 2.0. Join here.
10.30am – Session 2 – Keynote – Steve Hargadon. Join here.
12pm – Session 3 – Panel discussion on Keynote. Join here.
10am – Session 1 – Knowledge Bank: Next Gen. Join here.
12pm – Session 2 – Keynote 2 – Chris Bigum. Join here.
2pm – Session 3 – 5 ways to get started. Join here.
My biggest problem is I always flunk on the time conversion because I’m geographically ILLITERATE, so converting these live sessions from Melbourne to Hawaii time is like mind boggling for me. I finally had to change the time on my computer so that I could be ready for the session. I think they’re like 20 hours ahead, but if the first session starts at 9 am on Tuesday, what time is minus 20 hours? You see my problem? It’s a math thing. Would it be 1 pm on Monday? Plus you have to check in 15 minutes ahead of time so they can make sure everyone’s equipment is working. so 12:45 pm on Monday? It’s really bad. When I was thinking about it before, I thought it was 5 am on Monday, but I think that’s way off.