In her comment, she explained that she was taking a graduate certificate course in educational technology and that this was all new to her. As part of a course she was currently taking, she had an assignment to find and interview a blogger about how they feel a blog could benefit from facilitation services. And, she wondered, would I be willing to talk with her? Would I? You bet.
So, we exchanged email addresses and proceeded to correspond back and forth a bit, getting to know each other. Kylee was taking her course, “Facilitating Online”, through wikiversity. Here’s the course description:
This course is designed to help people to access and interpret models, research, and develop professional expertise in online facilitation. After completing this course people should be confident in facilitating online and/or be able to critique and offer advice to other people in online facilitation. The next facilitated course started 27 July 2009 and runs to 4 December 2009.
The course was part of a certificate program in Applied eLearning that Kylee was taking, along with a small group of other New Zealand teachers. She sounded very excited about what she was learning.
After our email volleys, we decided to try to find a time to talk live, via Skype. We had a terrific conversation (she has a wonderful New Zealand accent) – she told me about her kids, I told her about mine, and we compared notes on what she was learning in her course and what she found exciting about using technology. She gave me the link to her blog site and we commented a bit more on each other’s blogs.
Kylee asked me if I might be willing to be a guest speaker for their course “Faciliating Online”. They wanted to hear more about the use of these new web technologies in U.S. schools. The course facilitator, Sarah Stewart, helped Kylee think through the tool options for setting this up.
Kylee and I tried a number of options…. First we tried Elluminate, but had a number of technical problems getting it to work with the various computers, configurations, and operating systems. Then we thought maybe we’d just use Skype and Kylee could share a PPT deck of mine with the rest of the teachers. We found a date that worked for everyone, set it all up, but the night we tried it, the call kept dropping. The ever-intrepid Kylee was not giving up. She did some more research and suggested we try DimDim. We tested this a few times – while we were able to get my slides uploaded and working, the connection seemed very shakey. We found that things more stable if I initiated the meeting rather than initiating it at her end (probably something to do with bandwidth or the quality of the connection).
Of course, each time we had one of these sessions, it had to be early in the morning (New Zealand time), and late in the evening for me – or vice versa. One such “dry run” resulted in a funny email exchange between Kylee’s husband and me. He saw my email come into their account and quickly answered, knowing that we had been trying to find a good time to meet, and explained that Kylee had gone to bed.
Finally, we got it all working at an appointed hour, with all the participants there, online. For about 30 minutes, a small group of New Zealand educators (whom I’d never set eyes on), talked and shared ideas about using technology with students. For about 30 minutes the 9,000 miles between us was nothing. For about 30 minutes we connected. Thanks, Kylee.