Today a group of us met in Google Plus Hangout. Everyone from the Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class and Facebook Group is always invited, and it’s an open session. Today we had Todd, me, Walter, Norm, Maha, and Ted from POT Cert, and we were joined by Zack and Scott (that’s geographic representation from Arizona, northern and southern California, Dubai, New York, Alabama, and Japan).
Run by our Captain of Synchronous Sessions, Todd Conaway, the sessions have fallen into a Thursday pattern. Although originally envisioned as question and answer sessions for POT Cert Class participants, or maybe even a training or how-to opportunity, the fact that more experienced people tend to join has transformed the format into something more exploratory. The past few times people have shared sites they’re working with, in particular those focused on collaboration, mirroring what we’re doing in the sessions. As a result, we have spent several hour-long sessions following each other into various collaborative environments and trying things out together in real time.
But sometimes we’re awfully silly. Maybe it’s the Google Hangout moustaches, or the way we all go into somewhere and one (always one) of us can’t get the damn thing to work, or the serendipitous arrival of people we’ve heard of but never met. Maybe it’s how I can say, “I don’t know if this works on a smart phone” and everyone whips out their phones to try. We all have our little foibles (Ted won’t do anything Facebook; I won’t do anything that costs money). Anyhow, it’s quite fun.
So I said I’d take notes today, which we had designated a POT Luck — everyone bring something to share. Walter shared how he uses instapaper‘s “read later” feature to stay organized, and showed us the resource page for Curtis Bonk’s The World is Open and his popular video series about online teaching. Ted shared how he used Zoho Sheet‘s embed code to embed a formula-based assessment worksheet into a Posterous class blog. We talked about apps we played with last time, particularly Qikpad (for instant collaboration with polls and features), and tried to watch video together. We looked at ifttt so we could Put the Internet to Work for Us and, although fascinated by the variety of conditional activities, weren’t sure yet that we had a good way to use it.
Other failed ideas included: FERPA t-shirts that say “It’s OK – I am not doing this in records maintained by the school”, having everyone pitch in for one Livescribe pen and mail it around, and actually reading instructions on a $6 bar of salted chocolate. We were enchanted by Scott’s use of a fancy radio microphone that made him sound wonderful despite the early hour in Japan, and he contributed a site for transcribing mp3 for captioning if used in Chrome.
We’ll do it again — all our distributed activities like this are posted on the … Distributed Activities page at the class site. The class is open, the synchronous sessions are open — won’t you join us?