I’ve been having an email exchange (doesn’t that sound so behind the times?) with a friend on ideas to make our committee in SCASL more active. The current SCASL Instructional Technology Chair, Anne Lemieux, was brainstorming with me on what our focus should be this year. SCASL, for those who don’t know, is our state school library organization–the South Carolina Association for School Librarians. we are a recognized state division of AASL (I believe that is how it is worded.) Ideas that i shared included introducing the concept of streaming content (both meetings and or presentations) by using such tools as Ustream, Elluminate, or other tools that allow live streaming.
Elluminate your mind, heart, and soul
The two specific ones I mentioned have pros and cons. Elluminate comes with a fee, and allows for one location to have video, a white board to write on, a space to do a presentation using a familiar tool like PPT, and a way for interactivity built in via chatroom and call in capability using a microphone on your computer. Elluminate is a classroom/conference tool enhanced by VoIP (live voice communication). It has been used with hundreds of teachers, some with limited technical knowledge, and it is very easy to use and understand. Participants can access the site via any high-speed connection using a computer with a microphone. This one can be protected as folks have to be invited, and there is little chance for internet surfers to “stumble in” and be there uninvited. Since our state can provide us an account free of charge, this would be a free way to have virtual meetings, and one possibility for streaming a presentation, either independently, or maybe even a conference presentation. I am not sure though how it can be archived if someone “misses” an Elluminate event. Probably it can be archived, I’m just not familiar with it.
Ustream, I stream, we all stream for…PD
UStream is another thought, though there is risk for anyone on the internet to stumble in, and the risk that they will create problems. I have been in on a Ustream before with Darren Draper and his course Open Professional Development, a weekly PD opportunity where he streamed content he was teaching in his district, and opened it up to anyone in his PLN to join. One time we had nothing more than a “party pooper” who happened along because UStream is open and you can cruise through all the ustream channels, joining in trough the chat feature, and deliberately cause problems. The one time this happened, and I stress ONE TIME, the person was just being a pain, filling the chat with totally unnecessary garbage. Ustreams can be embedded in blogs, wikis, and websites, and archived for multiple viewing opportunities. The chats can be captured, but would require a purposeful copy/paste type capture during the chat, otherwise it is lost.
Free for the taking
The point here though is that the tools are available, many for free, that allow us to meet professionally. These tools may also make more people interested in participating in their professional organizations, and make them feel like they have a say or that their voice is heard. Like I said at the beginning, studies show that organizations have an active membership of about 10-20%. The remaining members are there in name only. I think that utilizing the tools will rekindle interest, rejuvenate a fledgling organization struggling to remain afloat, and make a larger number of members active participants instead of “in name only.” Sometimes I swear organizations that I am a member of really only represent the interests and issues near and dear to the heart of the executive board members. That is not always a good thing. What do you think?
Last, here is what I shared with Anne–
….Introducing Ustream OR Elluminate…would give a committee a real viable way to “meet” even if only virtually, which may result in a more active participation. Right now (in my professional experience with organizations) 90% of the members are members in name only……It’s probably true for most organizations in education, including us, SCIRA, IRA, SCEA, NEA, and any other organizations. It’s so time for these groups to become more active, and the tools today are available to give everyone a way to actively participate and use their voice.
Screenshot of an Elluminate Session
Image of a Presenter Streaming a Presentation in Ustream