a comedy of workshop errors

Photo Credit: anitakhart via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: anitakhart via Compfight cc

The first three months of each semester here are crammed with as many as 25 workshops, but luckily that’s divided between three people, so I might do 7-8 and maybe one or two joint presentations with other offices. Still it’s a busy time, what with preparation that includes making sure you have the right handouts, notifying  registrants about accounts they need prior to the workshop, and sending out post-workshop surveys. Then, if you are offering a new workshop or two, the work is doubled as you design what and how to present.

For me, everything seemed to come with its own multiplier this spring, maybe because my office and lab moved to a new space and came with a lot of technology glitches as we got all the computers working on a new subnet. The computer at the presenter station was replaced once, and after that had to have the hard drive replaced once (so far). Plus, it came upgraded to Windows 7, while the rest of the PCs in the lab are still on Windows XP. That alone causes more than a little confusion for attendees because my examples of how to do something don’t always look the same on my screen. Software had to be reinstalled on all the computers, as well, and that was part of the problem, as you will see..

On top of that, I had three hefty presentations to various faculty constituencies the week before classes started, and it was a lot of fun trying to keep them all separate without skimping on any of them.

Since that first week, Murphy’s Law has pretty much prevailed at almost every workshop, and with three to go, I have decided to expect detours on the road to the end, not only because the final workshop is new. So, here are some of the things encountered this semester, not all the fault of technology:

  • Prezi–only one person came, but she didn’t really want the workshop, because she already knew the software and had several Prezi’s. She just wanted a consultation, so I scrapped the workshop agenda and did a consultation. That worked out because no one else showed, but it was the beginning of weird.
  • WordPress.com–I invited a co-presenter to talk about her experience with WordPress and her talk ran over, so I ended up being crunched for time, and then there were a whole host of off-topic questions (e.g. what is an RSS feed?) that caught me off guard, and we never did complete all the workshop tasks. That was disappointing, because WordPress.com sites are one of my favorite special topics.
  • Tips on Blackboard with F2F courses–First my co-presenter and I were put in a room where the computer didn’t work, and it turns out the tech people already knew that, but the room scheduler did not. After moving to another room, we discovered that instead of a room full of people new to using Blackboard, we had a room full of people with lots of experience who wanted specific, detailed information about Bb tools. We had to scrap the agenda and do improv.
  • Adobe Connect–again only one person showed up, although that is beginning to seem like a good thing when there are problems. Case in point, when I shared my screen, she couldn’t see it, so I gave her host privileges and she was able to share her screen with me and see how it worked. Whew.
  • Respondus & StudyMate–Respondus seemed to work fine, until we found out the attendees could not publish to our LMS; turns out the software update I did the week before did not stick (?) and I had to reinstall it after the workshop. On my end, I could not demonstrate StudyMate because it would not open on my machine and it was discovered later that the Windows 7 software installation client had the wrong version of the software.
  • Adobe Presenter–again only one person–and a good thing–because everything worked fine until I tried to apply publishing settings and my program gave some validation error and then froze with a spinning ball of death. So, I just went over and sat beside her and walked her through the rest of the process on her computer–good thing it wasn’t a room of 10.

Next week we make Google Wikis and then some VoiceThread presentations. Two weeks after that I have 10 signed up to learn how to create MP3s with Audacity. What could go wrong?

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Categories: computers, teaching, technology

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