16 July, 2011 05:26

About a month ago, I received an email letting me know that there was going to be a eLearning conference at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC on July 15, 2011. I sent an email almost immediately and registered for the conference early. I also offered to present, which is highly unusual for me, and chose the topic, “Using WordPress as a Mobile Communications Tool.” I later changed this to “Exploring…” because I thought participants wouldn’t actually be using PCs or their portable devices to actually try things out. *Just a day or so before coming to the conference, I learned that I would be presenting in a lab setting, so all users would have a PC.

I spent a lot of time preparing for the presentation, but because this was something I really love exploring and talking about, it wasn’t a loss. I even realized that several new options had been made available when you are using a WordPress.com blog.

Yesterday morning, July 15, Friday, I got to the Conference about 8:15am, received the “All Day” parking pass for the parking deck next to Belk Library, and drove up to my spot on the 2nd Level. The morning was overcast and there was some morning rain, as I looked out the window, watching the headless bodies of students as they walked past.

I had a few minutes before the “Opening Remarks” session, and found that the lab, “024,” where I would be presenting, was downstairs in the Library. The lab had about 48 PCs, six rows of back to back, with a presentation podium and dual projectors. I plugged in my USB stick, and checked out the audio speakers. Everything popped up fine.

I realized that running WP from a stick really does provide a powerful, portable presentation tool. Part of my materials were online at http://emobilewp.wordpress.com and the rest were on the stick, which could be accessed, when running WP from the stick, at http://localhost/ . I had the opportunity to try this on several systems, from my office PC, home laptop, presentation podium, Belk Library PC. *I was actually creating content less than 2 hours before I started my presentation.

It felt good sitting at a common PC in the library, one against an outside wall, with a window, plugging in my EVO phone to a USB port to replenish power, pulling out my camera and taking pictures of scanning a QR code and getting them into the WP site, and creating content, “on the fly” fluidly.

My presentation came at the end of the day, 2:20 pm to 3:20 pm. Someone else had already done a WordPress presentation during the first sessions. There were six participants, with one of those being the presenter from the previous session. My impression was that he just needed “a place to light.”

I knew before I started that there was way too much material to present in just an hour, so I went into my performance with a fluid approach. I would feed off the responses of the audience to see what they thought was important and interesting, and would spend more time where I thought appropriate.

There were a few users that seemed to realize how powerful WP, QR codes, etc., could be in an educational environment. I hope at least one of them incorporates some of what was presented and shares that with their fellow instructors. It really can change the way things are done.

— Addendum:  (07/21/11)

I had originally planned to drive from Boone to Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which would have made an hour & a half trip into about a 3 hours trip.  It was about 4:30 pm when I left Boone and overcast.  I soon decided that with the rain and fog, it wouldn’t be much of a sight seeing trip on the Parkway, so I decided to take the shortest route.

I had dinner at the East Village Grille.  My second visit to the restaurant.  I ordered a Philly Cheese Steak again, but had fries with it this time and sweet tea to drink.  I also asked that the waitress bring me a cup of Tiger Sauce.

I enjoyed the hot sauce with the strips of steak & cheese again.

East Village Grille sign, at dusk