Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Virtual Audience Adds Umph to Our Live Event!

In the true spirit of Digital Revolution, our big event happening in one day and 20 hours has just gotten bigger and a lot more interesting. Suddenly, we move from a potential audience of 300 (the size of the room) to a potential audience of two billion. PLUS we have added live audience polling to engage both our local, in-person audience and our virtual audience online! How sick is that!

Live Streaming Our Event
Here are some screen caps showing our dress rehearsal for the big event. Thanks to Eric Collyer, who has been experimenting with justin.tv on his blog, we are now set up and running with our own live streaming channel:

So, if you can't be to our Digital Revolution Event in person on December 9, 2010 (or if you are reading this when it is over and want to see the archive version of the event) click on that address (or just scroll down, since I've embedded our channel below).

Live audience polling leverages our reach further, adding precious interactivity:

Live Audience Polling
Using a service called Poll Everywhere, today we successfully piloted a participatory backchannel for our upcoming event. I've participated in some Ignite events in the past which used a Twitter backchannel very successfully. The advantage with Poll Everywhere is that no one needs to have a Twitter account -- they just need a cell phone. As the image illustrates, we created open-ended questions which people easily submitted by typing in a code.
As soon as the text messages started appearing to the side of our main screen, it raised possibilities (mostly good). Would this be distracting to the audience? (Yes, but we could finagle it so it was a bit to one side of the main event and we could turn on commenting moderation if need be.)

But the merits of this system far outweighed our fears. First of all, it is a way for the audience to ask simple questions (Gee, how could we have overlooked something so basic as defining Web 2.0??) or to express enthusiasm or concern. We also quickly discovered its possibilities as a secondary presentation channel -- group members (who aren't talking) can contribute clarifying points or ask questions to get the audience into the content of the presentation. Of course, just like any live microblogging or update stream, this could also be a place to share links, etc. (The stream of texts is auto-saved to a website, which our Internet audience will be able to experience live and which we will be able to link to later when we write up the event).

Another thing we plan to do with this live audience polling is to ask for votes from our in-person and our virtual audiences. At the end of our presentation we plan to give an Audience Choice Award, determined solely by texting in one's vote (American Idol style) for one's favorite presentation.

These two tools -- live streaming through Justin.tv and live audience polling through Poll Everywhere -- make it possible for our virtual audience to have a more authentic, interactive experience.

I was just on Google Chat with a former student, Jeff Swift, now living in North Carolina. He'd heard about the Digital Revolution event and was bummed to be 2000 miles away. Jeff ran a live event at BYU last year, a benefit for Bulgarian orphanages, which went great, and he's interest in staging events. Turns out he didn't have to be left out! When he heard he could watch it live on the Internet and text in his questions, comments, and votes via text messaging, he suddenly committed to be there and to invite some others to attend virtually as well.

This is how live, local events can GO VIRAL.

Now, suddenly, I'm realizing that we should have been reaching out to and cultivating that broader audience much earlier. All of those ed-tech specialists from Classroom 2.0 or teachers using edublogs might enjoy these presentations. Of course, I do plan to alert my followers on Twitter and my friends on Facebook (most of whom I did not previously invite to the live event because they would never be able to come).

Think of the possibilities! Who might you invite now that you can? Or, if you've had some good experiences running live/virtual events, what other advice might you give?

This is fun!

Watch live video from Digital Civilization on Justin.tv