Friday, February 23, 2007

Post-course reflections - Session 1: The "W" & "H" of Blogging

Training is not my full-time job. It's about 10% to 15% of my time in a given year, but I derive more than 50% of my job satisfaction from such opportunities.

Stayed up till 3am to finish my slides for the talk. With a 3.30pm slot and a predominantly lecture-style session, I anticipated that participants would have a tendency to fall asleep. Hence, I redid the slides with the famed "Lessig Method". Total slides came up to about 250. One participant told me later that it worked out very well (although I wonder if the effectiveness of this presentation style would be diminished if every trainer or speaker started adopting it).

The talk covered the usual things like "Definition of a blog", "Difference between a Blog, Website and Discussion Forum" and "How to create a blog" (this was done with screenshots of Blogger.com; the Internet connection was slow so I couldn't do a 'live' demo).

On the part on "Related Technologies", I showed how one could subscribe to RSS feeds. I also showed the "Add Notes" feature (using this example) in Flickr.com, which was well received as usual. From the positive-sounding murmurs, I think the teachers in the audience could appreciate how they could use something like Flickr.com in a classroom setting.

Bearing in mind the profiles of the audience for this talk, I emphasised less on "What's a Blog" and more on areas like "Why do people blog", "Why is blogging" and "How are the resultant conversations relevant".

For today's participants, I felt it was more relevant for them to have more insights to the mindsets and intents of bloggers. Then they might be better informed on why their students, children, and colleagues blog.

I specially quoted Minister George Yeo, from his interview on BlogTV.sg (Jan '07), where he shared that:
"The emotions connected with blogging are very different from that in giving a speech... For some reason there is an intimacy you associate with going into the Blogosphere, which you don't associate with a public meeting."
I didn't share my blog URL with the participants because the course was not about my blog or my blogging efforts. One participant did ask for my blog URL after the session. He said he was from the Singapore Police Force! Gee, did I say anything that I shouldn't have? LOL.

Nah, he was just sharing his thoughts that government employees should not feel they were discouraged from blogging, so long they were aware of organisational boundaries (e.g. not to blog publicly about things that they should not).

Which reminded me of an excellent discussion at one point during the talk, on "Blogging Guidelines" and "government employees blogging". A lady in the front row felt that more government agency employees should be allowed to share details about their work, e.g. how certain policies were formulated. She said something like "sometimes we feel like responding to some errors in public perception, but because we're not allowed to make public statements on policy, we can only sit back in frustration".

I ended the talk by highlighting comments generously contributed by David, Victor, Chun See, Melissa, and Walter. Thanks so much, all. Couldn't have used a better example to illustrate the point about the camaraderie, sharing and constructiveness in the Blogosphere.

Self-assessment of my overall performance today -- including content work --
on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being "poorest"): 6.5. Maybe a '7', but I don't want to be cocky. Wished I'd taken a video recording of the session, so that I can watch where I could have done better.

The good folks at CSC said they prepared 110 seats, and it seemed like a full-house where I was standing. I'm fully aware that the 100 plus participants might not rate it as high. The best reality-check is to compare my self-rating against their perceptions. I more than welcome comments on areas that could be improved (content & speaker's effectiveness), if they manage to find their way to this blog.

I didn't have my camera with me, so no pictures of the session. I'll post some of the pictures when my colleague sends them to me. Oh, did I tell you that on the third day of my Beijing trip, my camera conked out? It's still in the repair shop : )

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