November and everything seems to be getting done, virtually speaking. Meetings, I can attend without thought as to where they would normally take place. Rurality, is for now not an issue with regards attendance. No, the challenge for me is silence or rather my kitchen’s lack of it. It has the best Wi-Fi strength in the whole house but comes a close second to Inverness city centre in terms of traffic, wandering through, indulging in hot drinks, partaking of lunch or just generally seeing what is going on. Despite these distractions I have managed to move some of my workshops into the virtual world. Well, really I suppose delivering it through the net would be more truthful.
I have to admit I was a bit reluctant to make that move. The thought of my face appearing on a large screen was quite foreboding. However joy of joy, I don’t get to see that bit so I can just pretend it isn’t happening and the bairns are in fact seeing me on a small computer screen in the same way I see them.
Another reason for my hesitancy was this whole question of feedback and interaction you get from your readers. Just to be clear here I am talking about my Gàidhlig children’s books in case you should think that I expect my adult readers to participate in actions songs, craft and movement sessions (although if you do, that is fine). My considerations revolved around things like; would I manage to hear the bairn’s comments or be able reply to their questions? What about helping them with craft or discussing what could happen next in a story. Or even the little games we could play or, or ….
Then the really scary issue, would the technology work for me? Ok I know it has worked for others but that doesn’t mean a thing. My understanding of logically thinking appears to bear little resemblance to what others regard as logic. And why oh why does there have to be so many programmes that organisations and people use; from Zoom to Messenger, Vscene to Teams. I understand they are all similar but it is still another level of stress to add to an already long list of; how do you do that?
Finally, would my usual workshop work in an online format? Would it have to be totally different or could some of it still be used with a bit of tweaking? All these considerations take time to work through. Basically, like many other things I tackle, it was just a case of taking the time to break it all down and build it all up again one piece at a time.
So here are my three top tips for moving on line at least for now.
· Check out where you are delivering the workshop. Different regions have different rules. For example you may not be allowed to engage in anything like singing at the moment.
· Consider these restriction when looking at your normal workshop. Make any changes or replace anything to allow it to fall in line with these restrictions. You may find that actually any restrictions only apply to a little part of your overall workshop. So it is not as daunting as you may feel.
· Have another way of connecting with your ‘classroom’ in case of any technology hiccups. For example an e-mail address of the person leading in the actual room. At least then you can always arrange immediately for another date and time to delivery it.
Did I feel the work involved rejigging my workshop or the stress of moving online and trying to ignore my big screen appearance was worth it then? Well, yes it was. Being involved within a classroom setting again was brilliant. I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed interacting with the children and their teachers. I had also forgotten that the children themselves are seeing so few people coming into their classrooms, so they were really excited about my virtual visit. Did it feel strange? Yes it did but very worthwhile. Will I just keep all the workshops on line? Now that is a big question as I can visit almost anywhere. However, although technology has allowed me to delivery my workshops it is not the same as being there in person, for me or the children. Would I do it again? Yes, yes I would especially at the moment both for myself and my little readers. But roll on actually being able to deliver them in person.
Oh and the photograph, well that is not me running away at the mere thought of more virtual deliveries. Rather that is my main character from my workshops. Grumpa comes over pretty well I think.