The liveliness of archived training opportunities—including Infopeople  webcasts and webinars —was never so apparent to me as it was yesterday while I was viewing a recording of an event I missed earlier this week: the Infopeople offering of Mary Minow’s  “Finding (Legally Safe) Graphics for Presentations and Websites.”  It also made me once again realize that in a Web 2.0  e-learning  world, we are never quite alone and we are always deeply in the moment.
As I follow the link to the hour-long program from the webinar description page , I am surprised to see that I have a chance to sign in with a user name. Intrigued, I take the bait; I simply type my own name in at the “participant login” prompt and click on “enter.” Before the recording begins to play, I see that I am either in a replica of the actual webinar “room” or somehow actually have become a live audience of one for what I am about to see. As the session begins, I see exactly what the live audience viewed and heard during Minow’s presentation: the house-keeping announcements about how the session will proceed are audible; the PowerPoint slides for the webinar (also available from the webinar description page) are progressing as they had on the day of the webinar; the chat which had taken place near the bottom left-hand side of the screen is appearing as if in real time; and the interactive buttons allowing participants to respond with a “yes” or a “no” to questions are visible.
Enjoying the presentation and curious as to how far the illusion of interactivity extends, I click on the “yes” button (the checkmark near the bottom of the screen) in response to a question and see my choice appear on the screen. I also play with the emoticons —those silly little icons allowing e-learning participants to express emotional reactions to a presentation by selecting anything from a smiley face to a hands-down symbol—and am having a great time, like a five-year-old free of parental supervision, expressing reactions to a presenter who will never know what I am thinking. Until I realize I apparently no longer am alone. For, glancing at the list of participants displayed at the bottom of the screen, I realize that someone else has chosen to watch the same archived program at the same time I am watching it, and now I have a virtual classmate.
It’s a strange and interesting feeling to know that we can, if we agree to do so, conduct our own live chat about the material while engaged in viewing the original presentation. And there is a potentially great tip here for colleagues sitting at desks throughout a large urban or small rural library system: if everyone agrees to watch an archived presentation at roughly the same time without traveling to meet in one central location, there appears to be no reason why we can't time our viewing in a way which allows us to carry on a live chat in this virtual classroom and continue the discussion after the broadcast ends—as long as no one logs out.
One final surprise comes as the archived recording reaches its conclusion: the session evaluation form comes up on the screen as if someone were still here waiting to see what I am thinking. So, playing along to see what will happen, I fill out the form and click on the “submit” button, watching as my comment apparently speeds off to join the comments of those who had attended the session two days earlier. And the thing is, in a virtual archived classroom setting, no one can hear you scream with joy.
Next: Mary Minow’s Guidance on Locating and Using Legally Safe Graphics for Presentations and Websites