I take presenting at these summits very, very seriously. Not only I am fully aware that the people in attendance have given up their much-needed holiday time to further their own learning for theirs and students' benefit, but also that they in some way, shape or form are trusting me in terms of what I have to say, show and engage them in.
Day 1 at Wellington was a beautiful, cloudless, still day. My first-up session on Google Classroom first up on the day was well-attended, well-engaged and from the feedback I received well-thought of in terms of relevance and application. With no more presenting sessions for the day, I immersed myself in learning from great presenters from New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Life was good, I was great.
It was about midday when Kimberley Hall the event coordinator regretfully informed that the summit's hall presenting system was incapable of projecting from a Chromebook. Now for most people this is no biggie but think of my Chromebook as my phone, no forget that, think of it as one of my limbs which had now just been severed! After coming back from a brief period of hyperventilation, I started to think and think fast.
No worries I thought, my co-presenter Gareth Haddon is super-organised and what's better is that he has a laptop! Boom! Problem solved....maybe not. Turns out his laptop was flat. OK. All we have to do is to charge it and we're away laughing. I should point at this stage, that we were now two others away from the start of the slam, so nerves were jangled but not chaotic.
In the final session before the slam, I completed the final edits of my Autocue speech in which I detailed extensively my links to the local Wellington area and the love of such area. I couldn't lose, I couldn't fail....could I?
Gareth duly got his laptop charged and we meet in advance at the Slam venue, we were ON! Although by this stage, I was missing my beloved Chromebook intensely, at least I could work a laptop and straight away set to loading the 3 tabs on my Chrome, logging in my Google account and authorising the use of the laptop camera and micro. Everything was set and ready for victory...or so I thought.
As everyone was arriving for the slam , I took my newly possessed laptop up to the presenting table only to be informed by Kimberley that the presentations will be projected wireless via Clickshare and a very Chromecast-looking dongle. No worries, all I have to do is plug in the dongle to my laptop and we're all on. I should also point out at this stage that I was scheduled to present third, the perfect position (just after a couple of warm-up acts and before everyone gets overwhelmed, win!). I immediately plugged the dongle into Gareth's laptop and waited for the Clickshare to connect and waited and waited. I then got Kimberley to try in between announcing the next Slam presenter. Even her expertise could not convince the laptop and dongle and Clickshare to happily co-exist. To Kimberley's credit, she handled the difficult juggling act of announcing presenters and getting me online with incredible professionalism and dexterity but to no avail. Kimberley had no choice but to keep moving me down the order of presentations, I felt I was moving further and further down the grave of shame and fail.
Sitting next to the highly talented Simon Ashby, the only solution was for me to load my presentation material on to the Macbook he was in possession of. Note I didn't say it was his. He was borrowing this device from a colleague because his Chromebook was not welcome either in this summit. With no time left, I threw my fingers at the Macbook's keyboard with much enthusiasm but probably very little accuracy or on reflection, very little impact. Now giving me a Macbook is like asking me to present in Latin and backwards. In these most wonderful moments, I quickly and painfully discovered just how different and weird and wonderful Macbooks are.
There was no time left. It was my time to shine. In fairness to myself, my speech was well-received and at this stage the audience was laughing with me at my content and presentation, the way I had so gloriously planned, visioned and dreamed of! Then the wheels didn't so much fall off, they exploded off. In my haste to get the Macbook on, I didn't have time to check that 1)I had authorised Screencastify to use the Macbook's camera and microphone and 2) I had linked Screencastify to my Google Drive for automatic upload, both of which were reasonably ESSSENTIAL! Completing my presentation (which I know by the Screencastify red light was recorded), I then went to the recording which was late (and at this time of writing, still undiscovered). The recording was no-where and despite the best countdown efforts of one Kim Sutton who kept the countdown at 3 for at least 30 seconds, was destined to remain no-where. I concluded my presentation by announcing to the vast crowd that the my Slam submission all along was actual how to learn from failure and what's more, how to fail & learn big!
Despite the significance applause from the audience, I felt stink and really gutted. I had done this activity multiple times with it never failing, except of course, right here, right now.
Day 2 arrived and so did I feeling a little better and in part rather amused at how bad things went. I was therefore astonished at how positive people were about my presentation, how many people had voted for my presentation (sympathy votes, but I'll take them!) and how much they had valued not only learning from my #techfail but also by the way I handled the fail in such a public area. The two sessions I presented on Day 2 (Forms and Slides) were well-received and attended and #techfail was so yesterday.
In having such a massive #techfail, I learnt that the show must go, that when best-laid plans go awry, it often becomes the best authentic learning and character-building opportunity around. Furthermore I learnt that I really, really love my Chromebook! Fail on people and oh yeah make sure to fail big and publicly. This way, we all get to learn!