Thursday, 22 November 2012

Kaltura Education Video Summit - My New York Adventure

View of Empire State Building

The last two weeks have been a bit surreal for me, and on Tuesday I spent a very pleasant day in Dakota Studio on 5th Avenue in New York City, recording a presentation for the Kaltura Education Video Summit. The summit will be a virtual event, taking place on 6th December, and you can register now for free. My presentation is on Supporting the use of video for teaching and learning (in the Blackboard LMS) and I am one of a long list of speakers, but the only one from outside the US, as far as I am aware.

So, how did this strange situation come about? Being in New York, pre-recording a presentation for a virtual conference to take place next month?

Well, just two weeks ago I got an email from Meytal Burstein, marketing manager with Kaltura, letting me know that my abstract had been accepted for the virtual Summit, and that I was invited to give a 30-35 minute presentation. I was very pleased, of course, and expected to deliver the presentation from my desktop, similar to the Blackboard/Kaltura webinar I was involved in a couple of weeks previously.

But, Meytal's email went on:
The entire content for the Summit will be pre-recorded in mid-November (most likely the 19th and 20th) in NYC. We will be happy to pay your travel expenses to NYC, of course. We will do the video shoot in a professional studio, and of course we will provide you with a copy of your professionally edited video, in case you would like to use it as a resource in the future. 

Believe me that I had to re-read the email a number of times, and make sure that it wasn't sent to the wrong person, before I could breathe again. I didn't even tell many people about the trip, I was so sure it would all fall through at the last minute.

From my Aer Lingus flight

However, Sunday found me heading off on a plane from Shannon airport, having already sent my deck of slides to Meytal, ready for the recording gig on Tuesday.

During the various social events organised for the speakers, I met some incredibly friendly and interesting Kaltura people, with a big shout out to Meytal, Zohar, Iddo and the other Zohar, who all made me feel very welcome. I also met the very impressive Michal Tsur, President and co-Founder of Kaltura. Forbes recently printed an interview with Michal on Female Leadership in the Tech Industry, which I know a lot of people will be interested in reading.

I also met a small number of the other speakers, and am looking forward to watching their presentations on the 6th December. I know that I was not alone in feeling completely nervous about the recording.

The Studio Recording

On Tuesday morning I arrived at the studio in time for my make-up! While my face was being transformed, I was able to watch another speaker being recorded (Nathan Sanders from the University of Utah).

Then it was my turn. I was given a clip-on mic and put standing on a small platform. In front of me was a mac with my presentation pre-loaded, and being recorded using camtasia. In front of me were two camera men. I was told to direct my presentation towards a target, which was just behind the head of one camera man. We did some audio tests and the lights were adjusted (Nathan is a good bit taller than me). Then Iddo used a clapperboard and Take One began!

Giving a presentation to two camera men, with an audio guy, a make-up artist and a couple of other technical people in a studio, is a completely different experience to standing in front of an audience. They have really no interest in what you might be saying. There is no feedback; nobody nodding their head letting you know they have understood; nobody laughs (politely) at your jokes; there is nobody to make eye-contact with. On the plus side, nobody falls asleep. When you mess up a line, or lose your train of though, you just stop, take a deep breath, have a gulp of water (trying not to mess up your lipstick) and start again. It is the most bizarre experience.

I really don't know how I did. I know I messed up a couple of times and I'm relying on some good editing. I'm sure I looked like a scared rabbit in the car headlights. I don't know how well I got my message across. All will be revealed on the 6th December.


After the recording in the main studio, each speaker was asked to participate in an interview conducted with Zohar Babin and also recorded on two cameras. This was a lot less formal and much easier to perform. Zohar asked a number of questions about video in education and about our experiences at the conference. It was very conversational in style and I actually relaxed and enjoyed the experience. At the same time, we could hear the sirens blaring from outside the studio on 5th avenue, which was quite amusing.

In the photo on the left, Catherine L Moran of the University of New Hampshire talks about using video with her students.

And now, I find myself back at my desk and wondering if I've just woken from a dream. I will be tuning in on the 6th, and making myself available to answer questions at the virtual summit. I don't know if I'll be able to watch myself though.


In case you're wondering - here's the abstract for my talk. I'll post the slides after the conference.

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed a significant increase in the use of video in teaching and learning on campus. Using the right video can enhance a lecture and increase student engagement. But encouraging academic staff to create their own video, or to make use of shared video resources, means that we have to provide a clean, simple workflow with reliable supporting technology. This talk will describe how NUI Galway has been implementing a project to integrate Kaltura into the Blackboard VLE to provide this support for staff. I’ll demonstrate some use cases for the building block, including video lab demonstrations, student presentations, vodcasts and student assignments. I will give an overview of the issues that have been experienced during the project and the extent to which they have been addressed. A particular issue is staff development: now that we have the infrastructure in place, how can we encourage and support more people to use it?

Finally, I would like to very sincerely thank the lovely folks at Kaltura who gave me the opportunity to be part of this wonderful experience. If you ever decide to visit Galway, although I can't pay your expenses, you'll be assured of a warm welcome.


Michelle said...

Well done Sharon! Looking forward to seeing your presentation. Will we be doing hair and make up for the CELT studio next?

Sharon said...

Thanks Michelle. Yes, a professional makeup artist would be good. A wardrobe dept could be useful as well ;-)