Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely our own and not necessarily those of our employer or any other occupational therapist.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Behind the Scenes......................

So...... many of you will by now be familiar with the role that Sarah and I played in the First ever World OT Day 24 hour Global Virtual Exchange. Working alongside our colleagues Merrolee Penman (Aotearoa/NZ), Anita Hamilton and Susan Burwash (Canada) and Karen Jacobs (USA) as OT4OT, between us we faciltated 24 sessions in the virtual classroom delivered by a diverse range of occupational therapists in practice, education and research, recent graduates, service users and also non occupational therapists who gave their time and expertise free to engage with World OT Day. The recordings of these sessions can still accessed on our website click here
Now, in the not too distant future we are expecting to write up the experience for publication submission - so I neither want to pre-empt content, nor claim the sole rights to the experience - which is why we haven't blogged about it to date. However, following a recent conversation we believe that our story to tell is what was happening behind the scenes  during the 8 hours of the UK leg.

3.00am UK time: Sarah and I attended launch of the 24 hour Virtual Exchange. From our seperate houses we set our alarms for 2.45am, entered the room at the click of a button and - speaking for myself - lay in bed with my laptop listening to the opening. Couldn't find headphones in semi-darkness so computer started speaking, Bruno (dog) started barking and then whole house awake. Oh dear - not a good start to the day for me.

6.30am UK time :Alarm goes off for second time. Knowing that we would benefit from the support of each other we booked at room here at the university so that Sarah, myself and Denis (trusty learning technologist) could spend the day together. Slight change of plan occurred at last minute as we had originally planned for the UK leg to start at 10am UK time (civilised time - time to brave the traffic, have a coffee and be fresh for the day ahead).
Needed to facilitate 9am session UK time which meant opening up the virtual room at 8.30am to meet Kit Sinclair - needed to be here for 7.30am - traffic at its rush hour worst, coffee shop not open.

9.00am UK time- so far so good, session running smoothly, great attendance, technology working. What we began to realise is that we had a brief window of about 20 minutes every 2 hours where we could nip out for refreshment or comfort stops. Denis was vital to the half hour setting up period every hour so eventually we worked out a rota

11.20am UK time - Denis nipped out to get coffee - hurrah - even came back with chocolate biscuits.
Sessions been going fine - had to message a couple of times in the live sessions to get the next speakers' attention to come to their own set up room - they were so engrossed in the presentations before them.
Virtual room running fine, real room beginning to look a bit like a disaster area - coffee cups, empty biscuit wrappers...................

12.30pm UK time: Denis came back with boxes of chips, more coffee mmmm. Then realised that was actually very difficult to eat and remain professional. As chips arrived - so did the worst case scenario. The link to the Seychelles went down. The delay was about 10 seconds and so we couldn't communicate verbally at all. During the next 45 minutes I wish we had videoed the Real room environment for you! Whilst trying to keep a calm outwardly facing manner, panic overtook the room. Chips were forgotten as all three of us tried to communicate with the Seychelles team, identify the technological issues and work out what Plan B would be. By this time, participants had begun to arrive in the virtual space and I confidently announced we were going with Plan B - then in the Real space trying to work out with Sarah what Plan B was!! Shoulders were shrugging, palms were displayed in a "no idea" gesture and hysterics were close by. A few choice words were shared (not on line I am pleased to say) and eventually we managed to go forwards with the occasional "flight attendant" speech from me. In between times I was trying to eat cold chips (yuk) and prevent the ensuing hysterical laughter from spilling into the session!!

4.00pm UK time: the final session of the UK leg just completed and we handed over to USA for the next session. We finally removed our headsets, switched off the computers, cleared away all the debris around us and wended our way down to the coffee shop for a debrief and a moment of calm before braving the rush hour traffic for the second time that day and then home to the laptop to join in a few more sessions - but happily as a participant.

2.00am UK time: Unfortunately neither of us made the final session   - even for us that would have been a step too far. However I have since listened to the recording and thank Anita for her closing remarks about our collaborative team effort.
So - do you have any experiences of the day you could share with us here - we'd love to hear from you.