Hi, Marina. Good comments! However, you must not have entered your vRoom as a moderator, and that's why you had trouble with the slide uploading. If you had emailed, we might have been able to help you.
We have made a conscious decision with this conference, in order to have five days of sessions, to ask the presenters to become familiar with Blackboard themselves. Since we have extremely limited funding and the conference is a labor of love, that's the only way we are able to have this work. We understand that many presenters are used to getting more help, but we don't have the resources beyond the training sessions that we do--the upside is that we are able to bring together thousands of people from all over the world in an event that really has no equal! :)
Really appreciate you taking the detail your thoughts.
Hi Steve, I appreciate how much work you have done putting everything together with so limited resources. The conference goes great ! I figured, the closer was the conference, the more busy you were, and it is not right to bother you with every little thing. Also, no one can predict what can go wrong for the begginers. It is definitely worth if the most of volunteer moderators can dedicate, for instance, a one extra hour of their time to let presenters get comfortable with using Blackboard during short TRAINING PRESENTATIONS SESSIONS, of course after presenters learn on their own of how to use Blackboard. That would make a huge difference for everyone. It is not neccesary to do this right before the conference, it can be done any other time of the year, or a few days after the confeence when people still motivated to train those skills. Hopefully, more of us will be more experienced in using Blackboard at the next conference. Thank you for all your help and all this work you have done!
We recognize that this is a different kind of a conference experience for presenters. First, we're highly *inclusive,* since we believe it's really important to bring as many people into the conference to present as we can, and then let the audience decide which sessions they want to go to. We are also doing something very interesting when we push the responsibility out to the presenters to prepare themselves. This is a conscious decision--a decision not to get caught in holding an event that has to spend too much time in the wrong areas. I say that carefully, but I think accurately. Of the sessions I've attended, I'd say about a third of the presenters either didn't 1) join the speakers group as per instructions to receive all the pre-conference material, or 2) didn't attend or watch a training. In your case, you tried and had difficulty--but we also indicated you could go to http://www.wecollaborate.com, the user community for Collaborate, and ask questions there, as well as practice in your vRoom.
This is a really good discussion to be having, and I'm super-glad you've brought it up, since we should scrutinize these decisions. Our decision to leave the burden of preparing on the speakers means that with very limited resources we can focus on other things rather than having to build a lot of systems for those who are the least willing to follow through with their responsibilities (again, not you). Is that the right decision? Not sure, but I think it is.
Steve, I think your "highly inclusive" policy is very reasonable; according to this policy, you have to make the participation in the conference as much easy as you can. As the participants have to learn how to use your Webinar Platform, I think it is wise decision to leave it up to them how much effort they want and they can to put into it. Especially, if a third of the presenters did not put a highly recommended minimum of their effort, this group of educators definitely do not need any extra effort on your part to help them out. Also, this decision goes well with your limited resources. However, I believe that many of the presenters would like to be more prepared for their sessions. As an educators, we have a professional habit of always look for effective ways of learning, and we more care about ways we learn than other people. In this case, having opportunity of interraction and practice is much more efficient and much less time consuming than trying to figure things out on our own. It is like learning a foreign language without much opportunity of interraction and practice. So, I agree with your decision for the participants in general but disagree for this group of educators. Yes, I went to wecollaborate.com but they requre registration, and I am not sure if I want to be involved in one more social network, at least not at this time; I just wanted to learn how to use the tool and be able to feel comfortable with it when I need it. I think it is a good idea to find out if anyone else want to participate in a couple more training sessions with an opportunity to give a short presentation in a few days after the conference. I am sure you can find a small group of volunteers, and somebody from your Advisory Board to supervise them in finding the most effective ways of training presenters. I can help with finding effective ways too. Let's find out if there is a need for that.
Steve, I think that the Blackboard is a fantastic tool for conducting Webinars, and I would recommend it to anyone who needs it. Thank you again!
As a mexican student, I see how my teachers still don´t know how to use Blackboard fully and correctly, since there aren´t a lot of schools with these kind of tools here, but, in the small level i have used it I have noticed it´s a great tool and there should be an improvement in the way they teach the teachers about the uses that it may have. So in general words, i agree with you and i find really useful this tips :)
Thanks, Gabriela! I am glad it is helpful. I am going to put my new suggestions on GEC 2012 soon.