Thursday, November 06, 2014

BPN 1693: My first Skype lecture

Excitement yesterday. I was going to present my first lecture by Skype. Having used Skype for a long time, technically there should not be real surprises, but presenting a lecture is a different game, I guessed. And yes it was.

The idea to present by Skype was not at all surprising. Having been involved in European long distance learning projects like EMIM (European Masters of Interactive Multimedia), a remote presentation sounds logical. But EMIM and it successor EVA (European Virtual Academy) register lectures and make them available to the instructors and students. But presenting a live presentation was new to me.

So in the framework of the Iwooti2014 workshop at the University of Applied Sciences in Mittweida (Germany), I was asked to kick off a series of lectures. I had the freedom of selecting a subject of my liking, so I chose Archaeology of e-reading.  Why? I think that all students of digital media should follow a module on archaeology of digital media, as there are lessons to be learned from history.
E-Reading is such a subject. Of course e-books are well known these day and are used on e-readers and tablets. But few people know that e-books were started out in the seventies as text files (in ASCII and in capitals) on mainframes and mini-computers. And in that time Alan Kay worked on his mock-up of Dynabook, a slate with a screen, keyboard and stylus. Can you imagine, in a time that mainframes and mini-computers, for which thousands of dollars were paid, he thought up a mobile, user friendly and payable device.  And this mock-up has become the leading design for e-readers and tablets. If it had been possible to technically produce the Dynabook at that time, it would have been a destructive technology for computer giants like IBM and DEC.

It was unbelievable that I could stay at home and did not have to travel to Mittweida (with a train drivers strike coming up). I could stay in the intimacy of my study and lecture from there. This has advantages, but also disadvantages.

I had prepared a lecture with Power Point with many pictures in it. And in the morning a student from Mittweida contacted me. After solving some technical problems I could start the presentation. There was only a one time-out by the network. But I stayed within the time bracket assigned.

I did learn a few things from this experience:
a.      Have a technical try-out beforehand, preferably the day before the presentation.
b.      Ask the host to introduce you to the audience and the audience to you. In this way you see the people present, but you can also attempt to exchange salutations with people you know and with audience in general. Of course, it makes it also easier to solicit remarks and answer questions from the audience.
c.      Showing artefacts, like books or e-readers, live is a problem due to the limitations of the camera. I wanted to show my 1993 vintage Sony Bookman e-reader (see photograph) and the working of it, but I saw that this did not really work on the screen in Mittweida.
d.      Major problem was the prompting of the Power point sheets. Before the workshop presenters were asked to upload the Power Point on a local server. So, I could not steer the Power Point presentation myself and was dependant on the technical assistance by the host.

All in all, the Skype lecture was an experience for me. I can only hope that the lecture was a challenge for the workshop participants.

BTW In the lecture I went into future opportunities for the E-book like interactive books. But I forgot the way back opportunity of 3D printing of an E-book!

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