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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The A.V. Guy






     My second week of school, much like the first, has pushed my lack of technology experience and knowledge to the top of my worry list.  The first assignment given to me in Sociology class was to present to the class a chapter from the textbook.  My presentation was to be in lecture format, supported by a PowerPoint presentation that incorporated video, audio and still photos to help inform the listeners of the necessary points of the text (study and research results), as well as to emotionally engage the listeners to a level of interest sufficient to participate in discussion questions.   The theme of the chapter was socialization, and addressed the problems of institutionalized children, foster care, and the developmental stages of socialization.   Given that my last name begins with an earlier letter of the alphabet, of course, I was assigned to go first.  
     Under normal circumstances, "going first" is enough to cause any student angst.  Going first, and being the "old woman" in the class takes angst to a whole new level.  I am happy to say, however, that I was not the least bit worried about the assignment.  I have had a fair amount of experience with public speaking and as luck would have it, I also had experience as a foster mother.  In the two years leading up until now I fostered four children in addition to my four biological children.  One of these children still lives with me today.  Yes my friends, it's easy math. Eight children! If I could run a household with eight children while navigating the Wayne County Foster Care System, I could surely handle one thirty- minute power point presentation.  The rest of the class of early twenty-something’s were only learning about socializing children of different backgrounds from a textbook.  I had lived through it! Deep down, I must confess, I pitied the poor sap that had to go after me. 
     As expected, I had no difficulty preparing the lecture, and was finished with that portion of the work within one hour.  The PowerPoint, however, was an entirely different story.  I will spare you the embarrassing details, but let's just say I had to learn as I went, and it took hours just to get the bullet points and still photos into the presentation. The real problem, however was taking a video off of YouTube and inserting it into the PowerPoint.  That seemingly small task took two out-of-state phone calls and four back and forth e-mails from my "techy" friends to maneuver! 
     Finally the big day arrived.  I had my presentation saved on my laptop, and at the advice of a friend, I had even saved it on a flash drive. That morning I shed my "back at college uniform" of jeans and a sweatshirt, and actually put on make-up, and a long plaid skirt with a nice sweater. Save for a comment from one of my beloved children about my skirt looking like Nanny McPhee's, the morning went well, and I felt great and ready to go.  
     When I was in jr. high and high school (back in the 1980's), there was always what we called an "audio-visual guy" in school.  The A.V. guy was that shy, quiet boy who never had much to say, but who could always be counted on by teachers to make what was then the "latest technology" work.  He threaded film reels into machines, figured out how to make the sound come on, and how to make the overhead projector light up.  I think A.V. guys existed in high schools all across America at that time.  Thank God, twenty years later, a modern day A.V. guy was sitting in the back row of my Sociology class. Upon taking my place to begin my presentation, I soon discovered that the necessary cords to connect my Mac Book Pro were not available.  Ok, minor setback.  I had it on a flash drive.  Nerves then turned into panic, as the flash drive wouldn't load into the classroom computer. I could feel tears at the back of my eyes and my face burned with shame. I knew the young students were inwardly laughing at my complete lack of tech knowledge.  At that moment, a knight in shining armor (my new name for the A.V. guy) awkwardly appeared from nowhere, pushed this, typed that, and shazam! My presentation was on the screen. I wanted to kiss him dead on the lips. I restrained myself, and got through the presentation, even though the embedded YouTube video didn't work.  And the girl after me? She did a great job, and the A.V. guy had to help her too! 

  

9 comments:

  1. Way to go, Aims! If you figure out a way to send me your presentation, I'll figure out a way to watch it! :-)

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  2. Just wait, next summer the technology will change again and you will have to learn it all over again. The joys of technology.

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  3. Great job Amy!! Once you figure out all this tech stuff I am sure I a great job on the Mothers' Club website committee ; >!!

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  4. U r setting the bar high for those youngin's in class!

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  5. When I went back to school in my 30's I knew who my competition was in class...those older than me. They had drive, determination and organization skills that only raising a family of multiple kids could develop. Those young kids in the class may be comfortable with technology, but they are looking at you to show them how the whole package goes together.

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  6. You'll probably find that the ability to wing it even with minimal or sparse presentation materials typically works, too. I had to give two ad hoc presentations at a trade show in March. I got notice on Friday night that I'd need to deliver a presentation on Monday afternoon in front of a hundred or so techies in Redmond. On Monday AM, my boss shortened my slide deck to two slides. In the mad scramble between presenters, I think I only ever "presented" the first slide, glossed over the second, and just "talked" to the crowd. In the second session, this time with fewer but much more skilled techs, I asked the MC if I could squeeze in a bigger hunk of my original talk during what would otherwise be a 10 minute pause. I had approximately 15 minutes to prepare. I find that often it is much more important to know your topic backwards and forwards to really speak what ever is on your mind and be able to answer any question that comes up. Glossy, animated slides might be nice for a few selected situations, but conveying your material in a succinct and knowledgeable manner to me is much more persuasive and effective. Don't get sucked into the techno gloss!

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  7. What K said! You go, girl! I am in awe

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