Monday, July 20, 2009


Having a little more distance on my Skype conference call class, here are some points I noticed for making possible future distance classes (just now noticing that the first use of "distance" could have been a clever pun; unfortunately, it wasn't!) better.

Things that went well:
  • The technology worked!
    • At least, mostly. There were a few technological glitches. Various callers were inexplicably put on hold at times (including me)--but that's better than a total cut-off. Several people didn't have microphones, so mostly had to listen, but the messaging aspect of Skype minimized the difficulty that caused. Finally, toward the end, sound kept cutting out a lot--I eventually reverted to messaging. Still, for my first ever use of Skype, and the additional complications of doing a conference call, I think the technology side of things went quite well.
  • I did remember to keep pausing (and waiting) for questions and student input.
    • I could have waited even longer and figured out where I was going to do this more, but I was able to get some input, and definitely questions when we were walking through a database.
  • I successfully attended to both spoken and typed comments.
    • I was able to answer questions coming in both ways, although I think this made my talking a bit disjointed (more so than it was already with nervousness).
Things that didn't go well:
  • I tried to do too much. I do this often with face to face classes, too, but the mechanics of doing it via Skype amplified the effect.
  • I relied too much on students being able to access databases from their computers.
    • I knew some were having trouble getting in, but didn't really have other options. I don't think this is something where anyone was at fault (we didn't know exactly what platform we'd be using until last week), but I need to learn more about tools that allow for co-browsing. Or prepare slides and load those (blah!).
  • I didn't get someone to cover the desk!! Bad!
    • In my defense, Sunday nights in the summer have been very quiet. When I mentioned this excuse to my husband however, he reminded me of Murphy's Law with nothing more than an eyebrow raise.
    • I must remember to treat online classes like in-person classes in this case.
  • I'm sure I spoke too fast. I was quite nervous.
Other observations:
  • I was WAY more nervous than I usually am in face to face classes. This was partly because of the technology, but also because of the subject matter.
  • I should have geared more of my information toward public librarians.
    • For this, I take no blame, because based on the syllabus and information I had, it was a class centered on science research in academia. I did notice that many students were working in/interested in public libraries when I read their class introductions on Blackboard, but it didn't also occur to me that the class was being tailored toward those interests. Still, it's a good reminder about knowing my audience.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased that I got through the class semi-successfully. I would really appreciate any input from those who teach or otherwise work with distance ed.

My last reflection is that I am able to reflect. During my undergrad study, I minored in elementary education at McDaniel College, and the first part of the education department's mission was to develop "knowledgeable, caring, and reflective practitioners." I was definitely taught how to reflect there, but working in libraries gives me the time and space to use reflection in practice.

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