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I recently presented our paper Learning and Teaching as Communicative Actions: New Ways of Learning – Transmedia at EdMedia in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for Leila Mills, Scott Warren, and me. It wasn’t like any conference presentation I had done before because the presentation was virtual. That is, no travel, no hotel cost, no being lost in an unknown city, but managed from my computer, and all green!
Thirty-one papers had been accepted for the EdMedia virtual presentations. These were either posters, corporate showcases, or similar to ours; virtual briefs. The submission process was the same as for submitting to the actual conference in Victoria, except for choosing the virtual presentation option, the final paper was submitted on the same deadline as other accepted papers, and the registration fee was due when all attendees’ fees were due. The first real difference was that virtual presenters were required to upload their PowerPoint presentation.
The presentation space was set up on a platform called http://academicexperts.org/ where each registered attendee receive their own dashboard, i.e., a space where to customize the profile information, upload their publications, a message center, a friends area, and privacy settings. There was also the discussion area that was specifically related to the conference presentation. The dashboard further included a menu bar, which linked to Add to Planner, Discuss, Share, Download paper, View Slides, and Download Slides. All facilitating communication and participation at the conference.
My conference dashboard
Clicking the Download Paper option, the submitted conference paper was downloaded by other presenters and likewise the PowerPoint could be either viewed on the website or downloaded for viewing on the individual’s computer. The upload option for PowerPoint had included either submission of a pptx file or a pdf file. I chose the pdf option to bring down the file size as I had large photos on our PowerPoint. This resulted in the snafu that the presentation did not show online, however, it could still be downloaded. EdMedia had sent out an email mentioning that virtual presenters would be contacted about an optional voice-over recording of their presentation. This never happened, so I was glad that I had added more text on my slides than I would normally do.
The second difference was that virtual presenters were required to post an initial discussion question or discussions starter in their presentation discussion area. This was to spur online discourse around the presentation. The discussion was to be maintained by the presenter throughout the conference. Most active discussions and most recent discussions were shared on the virtual conference dashboard.
Conference dashboard with most active and newest discussions
The conference lasted four days, June 24-27. There was not a lot of discussion going on. One comment was posted as a reply to my introductory discussion prompt, which I replied to, however, beyond that there was no discussion. It appears this was the case with other presentations as well. When I reviewed the most active discussions thread after the conference had ended, the one with most post had ten posts in total with comments from only 3 different participants.
We are still learning to present over computers, and we will get better at it in the future. With practice more people will start communicating with each other during these venues and virtual presentations do provide a convenient way to get your work out there, and shared with other researchers. The AACE EdMedia and SITE conferences provide virtual presenters with the same publication option, i.e., to index and publish the presentation in EditLib following the conference: http://editlib.org/.
Overall, I am pleased with the virtual presentation and can definitely consider it again as it provided a convenient option to share my most recent work even when my travel funds were limited and for the benefit that I could review what other researchers are working on.
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Presentation slides: http://www.slideshare.net/jwakefield/edmedia2013