Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Where's that voice coming from...?

Today I got to give only my second-ever presentation via Skype, to a small but interested (as far as I could tell) audience at LaGrange College, arrangements made by my colleague Kevin, a faculty member in LaGrange's mathematics department. (Thanks, Kevin!) Kevin and I took part in a Project NExT session at the MAA sectional meeting in Tuscaloosa last March (about which I blogged briefly here), at which time he shared some really neat online networking tools for helping increase real-time student engagement in the classroom. I shared some examples of low-stake writing activities (freewriting, doubting and believing, dialoguing, etc.), indicating their uses in disciplinary classrooms.

Today's telepresentation was an encore performance, to, as near as I can tell, an economist, a writing instructor, a reference librarian, and a couple of mathematicians. (Sounds like the set-up to a lousy joke...) They had great questions, and seemed legitimately engaged.

It's hard to tell from afar. If I learned nothing else from the presentation, I learned how awkward it is working with a group via video feed, dealing with subpar audio and video, and not being immediately present to pick up on subtle nonverbal cues from my interlocutors. In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, ain't nothing like the real thing, baby.

Also: I've decided to take my show on the road...tomorrow, weather permitting, I'm going to hold a couple of my office hours out on the steps of the Ramsey Library...look for me there from 2:30 to 4:00. If my current students are as excited about this idea as my former students (thanks for reading, Jack!) apparently are, I might get a few visitors. I'd love to see my colleagues out there, too. Let's mingle!

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