Saturday, March 21, 2009

Failed Seminar - Lessons Learned

Yesterday I "delivered" the lunch time seminar as part of NCI's Professional Development Series - the topic of my talk was "Getting the most out of Moodle". However, it was one of the most depressing experiences I have had doing this type of thing.

At 0908 in the morning I logged a call on the IT Helpdesk that there was something wrong with Moodle - I was preparing for the seminar, but nothing seemed to work. Little did I know it, but it would take until the middle of the afternoon to sort out the problem. I had access to a second Moodle server, so I decided to go ahead with the seminar. Big mistake - I should have cancelled.

I was about to give a seminar on Moodle which was to feature how I use this system - without it being available!!! Nevertheless, I persisted in the hope that it would be available on time and I checked my setup in the minutes before the seminar. Next problem was that the projector I needed was in a locked office - I had to get Security to let me in to get it with a master key. The projector too was to be problematical throughout my presentation. The seminar was poorly attended (about 10 people) - it was an unusually fine day. Right at the start I almost had a bottle of orange juice spilled onto my laptop - the omens were not good! Moodle was still not working. With the second Moodle server I was able to do a few things - but one of the first, adding in a RSS News Feed, didn't work. I had practised this, but could not get it to work in the seminar. Next thing to go wrong was that my wireless connection to the Web started to slow down and then dropped all together. I could only get it back with "limited (ie useless) connectivity" - now I couldn't do anything. (No exaggeration - nine times out ten when I try to use the wireless network there is always something wrong.) Some people left, and I was reduced to describing about what I do rather than showing it. Even though it was almost 2 o'clock when we finished - I felt like a right eejit after this fiasco.

I shoulda...
  • transferred everything I wanted to show onto the backup Moodle server
  • not used a portable projector
  • sorted out the RSS feed in advance
  • not relied on the wireless network
  • cancelled the seminar before it started
  • not done a seminar on a fine day
  • had a plan B, C, and D!

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