Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ustreaming and Live Blogging Daniel Pink Video Conference

Update 2-28-08: Well, it looks like we pulled it off. I'll reflect on it in another post eventually, but a few quick links. First, the CoverItLive live blog is archived below. Second, thanks to Kristin Hokanson the Ustream chat is also archived. Third, the Ustream archive is in four parts, available on Ustream or on the wiki. I haven't watched through them, but I think they're all there.

Well, I’m a little worried that we’ll look back at this and say, “We should’ve quit while we’re ahead,” but we’re going to give it a shot anyway. This Thursday is our students’ live video conference with Daniel Pink. They’ve finished A Whole New Mind and this is their chance to ask Mr. Pink some questions directly, as well as further discuss the book with their classmates. We’ll have all four classes of students (about 110 or so) in our Forum and will conduct a video Skype call with Mr. Pink. (One tech concern there – feedback. We’re asking him to wear headphones on his end, but on our end we have to broadcast the audio to the whole room, so we’re worried he’ll get a lot of feedback of his own voice when he speaks. In limited testing in-house, Skype does a fairly good job, but if anyone has any ideas we would appreciate it. Because we hope it will be conversational, it's tough to mute and unmute the microphones.)

Students will come up to the microphone one at a time and ask a question of Mr. Pink. He’ll respond and the student will have the opportunity to ask a clarifying or follow-up question if necessary. If not, then the fishbowl inner circle will have the opportunity to discuss the question if they have anything to add, with Mr. Pink a virtual participant in that inner circle. We’re hoping to get through about twenty questions or so in about ninety minutes, and then leave Mr. Pink time to reflect on this experience with the students.

Everything so far was in the original plan, but after some reasonable success with Ustream and CoverItLive last weekend for Learning 2.0: A Colorado Conversation, we’ve decided to push our luck a little bit. So, we’re going to attempt to Ustream the whole thing. We’ll point a camcorder and a microphone at the inner circle discussion and the big screen, so hopefully Ustream viewers will be able to hear the questions the students ask, Mr. Pink's response, and the inner circle discussion. We are doing this primarily so that the students’ parents can watch and listen in, but of course it will be open to all of you. Here’s the Ustream channel we will be using and we'll be broadcasting from approximately 8:30 am MST through about 10:15 am MST on Thursday, February 28th.

While we’ve attempted to allow the Ustream chat through our firewall, sometimes we get it and sometimes we don’t, so we won’t be using or monitoring the Ustream chat. Instead, some of our students will be live blogging the fishbowl discussion using CoverItLive. I will be chat-jockeying the CoverItLive blogging (embedded below) and approximately thirty of the students who aren’t in the inner circle or asking one of the twenty or so questions will be commenting. I’ll be approving the comments as fast as I can and we’ll also hopefully have the live blog up on the big screen next to the Skype window so that all the students in the Forum can see the live blog if they wish. Again, this is primarily for our students to live blog, but other folks can choose to participate if they wish – we just ask you to not dominate the discussion and to make sure you attach your name to each of your comments. (If you haven’t used CoverItLive before, there’s a line for your name and then a box for the body of your comment. Once you comment once, it seems to remember your name.)

Now, a few caveats. Our primary goal is to simply get the Skype video conference and discussion with Mr. Pink to work. If the Ustream and/or CoverItLive don’t work, I’ll briefly troubleshoot those but then let it go and simply focus on the rest. And, again, the primary purpose of the Ustream is for the students’ parents to be able to observe, and the live blog is for the students to use to discuss (and for the parents to be able to virtually watch the blog discussion). So, while we’re inviting the network in, we’re also asking the network to play nice.

So, wish us luck, and here’s the CoverItLive blog (if things go swimmingly, it will go live at about 8:30 am MST on Thursday).


  1. Good luck. You guys are amazing. I look forward to reading the blog.

    -Christine Archer, Cherokee Trail High School

  2. That sounds like a very ambitious yet well formulated plan. I only wish I had an off hour then so I could watch!

  3. I'm definitely going to try watching this. Great work. As far as tips for Skype. Try using a set of speakers with a long cord that will let you move them away from being right next to the computer. I have found this to help a bit in presentations I have done.

  4. @brianmullnl - Thanks for the tip. I've considered that, but we're in a large room and in order for all the students to hear, we're using the built-in speakers in the ceiling. I've toyed with the idea of hooking up smaller speakers, but I just think it would be hard for all 110 of them to hear.

  5. One thing we do with the feedback with our skype interviews without headphones -- and these are done without video so the interviewee can't see how goofy we look -- is to have one student cover the mic with their hands and then open it up a little when another student speaks. There is still a small bit of echo on the interviewee's end, but the recording sounds great. Since the speakers are coming from above, maybe something can be rigged above the mic. We tried a lot of things from teddy bears to cardboard, but a students hand seems to work the best : )

    I would be more than happy to come and hold the mic for you. Do you need an address to send me my plane ticket?

  6. I plan on sharing whatever is able to escape from The Forum tomorrow with other interested staff members/students at our elementary school in Colorado.

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to observe what leadership/collaboration looks like in realtime.

  7. @derralg alerted me to this post as we (my students in Aus) have experimented with liveblogging with @shaggyhill and his students. So I was intrigued to see how you used live blogging and I think it has enormous potential for education. I then trialled it with my own class seeking instant answers and opinions to questions on social networking, home internet use etc.

  8. @murcha - I wish the time difference between here and Australia wasn't so problematic, I'd really like to connect some of our classes up to each other with some live blogging.

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