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.


Mike Griffin said...

Excellent work! I was really impressed by the variety and quality of presenters, and it's a real achievement to successfully deliver the world's first online occupational therapy conference. Are there any technical or organisational lessons learned that you can share? Will there be a second one next year?

Sarah Stewart said...

I still haven't written up VIDM2010...now you've spurred me on...can't let you OTs to beat me.

BTW, I've nominated you for a Edublog Award but don't think you have a hope in hell of winning when I am sure you'll be up against LearnCentral and events like that:


Merrolee said...

Great reflections- I can just see the state of your room - my home office was like that - and signing over to you guys was bliss - I sat back with a huge sigh and could then enjoy the next couple that I managed to stay awake for!! hey sat with an PT and a nurse today at a session for research into clinical education - and one who I'd never met before said - I know your name - World OT Day - tell me all about it... yes.. said the PT - how did it go??????

Davina said...

I never would have guessed. You all seemed so calm on air!
As a student, for me it was an incredibly exciting experience to be in the same "room" with so many interantional Ots and academics. It was a fantastic opportunity to take part in, very inspiring and motivational.Good luck with your planning for the next one!
Davina (Salford Uni)

Matthew - Occupational Therapist said...


Sounds like a great experiment and the future of networking for the profession. I missed this one but will make sure to stay tuned for the next day - anything planned??



Radhika said...

I come to this blog entry rather late; thanks for providing the visuals to what was happening at your end when we (Seychelles) were trying to speak to the world.
Our saga began on the Monday when we were supposed to have a practice run and Our Man from IT was called away by some 'life and death' cyberscenario. We did the practice from my home computer and thought it all went well.
Come the day Man from IT sends his trusted assistant with no necessary paraphernalia for us to work with. We were connected and could hear Jackie Taylor in the background but had no mics or headphones. This is 45 min before we are due to start and so I rush off once again up the mountain side to the computer I know and love. This time I have my 3 colleagues with me and all goes well for the first 7 miles but the little car has never had to transport 3 passengers up a 45 deg incline before. So I off load the passengers drive to the nearest almost flat bit, passengers walk up to join me and destination is reached. I get the computer going and we are in the session 14 room, Lakshmi is making tea, Fiona and John are being shown how it all works and we are HAPPY when boom... it all goes mango shaped.(we are in the tropics remember)
Must say we are used to things not working the way it was planned to be a lot so blood cortisone levels were still low.
We decide chat function will have to be worked to its limit. John says that he is a dab hand at speed typing but not to ask him to think up responses at the same time. Fiona and I take that role and Lakshmi starts to do the spell and grammar check much to John's chagrin(Angela's Stewardess announcements and John's calm composure have to be acknowledged here). When the 'Q's come faster than the 'A's, the adrenaline starts flowing.
We are still buzzing when our time is up.
We congratulate each other endlessly and start planning Virtual Exchange II.

Angela said...

Radhika - I had no idea how fraught things were for you too. All that travelling about. However you and your team were professional beyond the call of duty and your session was extremely valuable to the day. Thanks :-)

Here's to next years!!!