Using the Access Grid

The Access Grid Linkup for the Launch of the FLLinNZ toolkit has now been and gone. This was both stressful and a lot of fun. Blog Link. AKOWiki page Link.
I did not have a clue what I was getting myself in in for. I have done a score of VC linkups, but never the Access Grid. I thought I had done my homework, but NO WAY.
The AG is a room, painted green with a computer at one end for the operator, and a wall at the other end with 3 data projectors. There are three cameras. When things are going we could see 8 windows:

  1. Auckland, Wellington, 2 of us and 2 of Dunedin.
  2. The powerpoint.
  3. Leigh’s shared web browser.
  4. The Blackboard

ag-overview.jpg
I lined these up in order Auck > Well > Dunedin. The picture was too fuzzy in Auckland to see expressions. I relied on the ‘tell‘ from Dunedin’s folk to see how things were going. :-)

Things I learned.

Time is needed to set up the ‘view’ of each group. I never managed to see all the Dunedin folk even though we had two windows for them.

I had this romantic idea that in between times (like when we were watching a youtube video) we could snack and socialise a bit. Hmm. Didn’t quite come together. :-)

I was told we could have a “shared browser” and Powerpoint, so I based my entire presenation around this. However, a shared browser meant only the operator could press the buttons and use the mouse. And no shared sound. The AG version of the web was like silent movies. Apparently there is a problem to play sound: we ended up getting each of the four operators to load the podcast and play it sumultaneously.

This meant no Youtube.com or Podcasts . . .

PowerPoint kept crashing. (M$. Not unusual)

Everything is operator dependent, unless you have some software on a laptop. I thought “No problem, lets install it” but the software was not there in the room. Next time I will sort this.

Powerpoint slides could be visible to me and not them and vice versa. It could get out of sink somehow. But when it went it was fine.

Collaborative note taking is a MUST for sessions like this. There is not whiteboard (a fact I had forgotten) so we used a blackboard from the hallway.ag-blackboard.jpg

Possible solutions: use one window as a sort of wiki, maybe a whiteboard opened up to a shared browser.
There is a document camera. This would be OK as well.

We tried a scenario where each group had a few moments to interact and answer a question – this worked well.

Basically it fulfilled the need – sort of. We had some dialogue over the main issues around staff development . . . in another post I will talk about this.

ag-bruce.jpg

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