I had decided I was interested in trying out this new technology setup when I learned that Gannett Auditorium was one of the auditoriums at the University of Florida that was to be equipped with Mediasite. Mediasite was being installed in several auditoriums as a way of making lectures for large classes available to students who missed class due to the H1N1 swine flu. (See the previous blog post for discussion of what is the preferred name for this influenza.)
Then one day, the Mediasite monitor was there in the auditorium next to the computer monitor. In the back of the auditorium was the camera, installed over the video projection unit. With a click of a switch, I could see on the Mediasite monitor the view from the camera — a wide angle shot of the entire stage. If a student were to watch a class presentation via Mediasite, I would be a very small image. But my voice would be there and so would those ever-important PowerPoint slides.
Even with that visual shortcoming, I still could see the potential of using the system, especially as I was going to be having guest speakers in class the following week.
I checked the UF Web site to learn more about how to use Mediasite and found little information. That began a series of e-mail exchanges between myself and members of UF’s technology division. It turned out that I was an early adopter (using Everett Rogers’ concept). UF was working on having Mediasite available, but it wasn’t functioning yet — but they’d let me try it out.
We set the date and time. I was told Mediasite would be turned on from a remote location. When the blue light atop the camera switched to a red light, the camera would be recording.
More e-mails, downloading and installing Sliverlight, and seeing how Mediasite looks to the viewer. My lecture assistant Paige Madsen and I concluded that Mediasite wouldn’t work for our in-lecture interview with the two health experts, as we would need three microphones — one each for the speakers and one for me — and we had two microphones.
So we changed our reservation for Mediasite to a day when I was having one guest speaker — Kristen Bartlett Grace, a professional photographer and former student in the course. Kristen’s presentation would be just the kind of presentation that works well with Mediasite, as she would be showing some of her great photos to illustrate her photography tips. I talked with Kristen to see if she was OK with the idea of having her presentation recorded. She was.
I e-mailed again the day before the lecture to make sure the technology folks were going to be recording the lecture, providing day and time.
The auditorium is unused only one class period for the entire week. Paige went into the auditorium during that open time to try out the new microphones that were connected to Mediasite. We’d had some difficulty with one of the mics the previous lecture, but she had them both working. So we were ready.
Kristen and I tried out the microphones before class started. The PowerPoint slides were ready to go. Class was to begin at 12:50. As I still hadn’t received the final confirmation from the technology office, I located the phone number of the technology office, and Paige called before class started. No answer.
The light on the camera was blue as class started. Kristen and I began, with me asking questions (with one microphone) and Kristen telling about each photo (using the other microphone). Paige left the auditorium to continue calling the technology office.
Kristen’s presentation was excellent with storytelling photos and her stories and tips to accompany the photos. Her work generated a number of oohs and aahs from the students.
But the camera light remained blue. The students in the auditorium and I enjoyed her helpful presentation, but that presentation wouldn’t be available for anyone who was absent or available for later review by others.
After class I e-mailed the technology office again. My contact was apologetic but said they weren’t ready but would be in a week or so.
I understand about technical difficulties when using technology. That’s one of the added challenges of teaching with technology — whether using Mediasite, a DVD or an overhead projector. But spending so much time in preparing and then having the technology not work — due to no fault of my own — can make one less enthusiastic about that particular technology or the next teaching opportunity that involves new technology.