Event Amplifying With Adobe Connect

#iwmw11 At this year’s Institutional Web Management Workshop we live streamed all the plenary talks using Adobe Connect. We were supported with our efforts by Collaborate who support enterprise wide implementations of collaboration solutions. Although I’d had a look at Adobe Connect set up before this was very much a case of learning on the job. In this post I’d like to share what we did and the lessons learnt.

Running Adobe Connect from behind the scenes

Before the Big Day

In advance of the day we set up an Adobe Connect room for the event. We decided to have one room, with one set up and to use this for all the plenaries. This meant that we would only need to pass on one url to remote attendees and they could spend all day in this virtual room. In the room there were two layouts:

  • a start layout for when attendees arrived with a clock, a timetable, a chat facility suggesting people say where they were from, a screen showing a running video on how to use Adobe Connect and an IWMW slide saying “back soon”
  • a main layout for talks with a video feed of the speaker, the speakers slides, a twitter stream and a chat facility.

Using preparatory mode a moderator can flick between these layouts and alter them without attendees seeing. The start layout was used until the beginning of the first plenary and then again during breaks.

We also set up a video streaming page with details on how remote attendees could enter the IWMW room. All delegates had to enter as guests and would have no microphone privileges.

On the preceding day we tested all the AV equipment and the video feed. Everything looked fine, though there was a slight issue with using a guest account on the Reading University network. It was agreed that all moderators would need a wired connection. We also made sure that responsibilities were clearly assigned and moderators were given in log ins. Rich Pitkin, one of our event amplifiers, would be responsible for the video feed. Pauline Foley from Collaborate would be responsible for recording sessions and monitoring any attendee audio or visual problems. I would be responsible for all other aspects of the set up including uploading and replicating slide movement (all slides need to be progressed manually as it is too complicated to feed in from the speaker’s PC/laptop), monitoring remote attendees chat, monitoring the layouts etc. The moderators have a private area that allows them to see all the attendees and chat amongst themselves – this was really useful when there were AV problems.

On the Big Day

On the first morning I had responsibilities for opening the event, introducing the speakers and chairing. I wanted to get as much done in advance so made every effort to get hold of speaker slides in advance. Adobe Connect allows you to open up documents in advance, it then caches them, which saves time later on. PPTs and PDF seem to work best, we didn’t have a lot of luck with key note.

Moderator view of Adobe Connect

Just before the start I changed the layout screen to the main layout. During the talks I replicated the slide movement and kept my eye on how things were looking.

Some Tips

  • Have a laptop next to you that shows what the remote attendees can see. This is invaluable for checking that what you are doing is being shown correctly.
  • Write a methodical list of what you need to do before the start of each session – for example each of our plenaries had a different hash tag (e.g. #p1). This needed to be changed in the Twitter search box, occasionally I forgot to do it right at the start.
  • I should have hidden the chat after each talk, this would have made each session recording stand alone.
  • During one of the plenaries we had a few audio issues – we should have made more effort to test the set up in each break.
  • Some slides were slightly messed up during the conversion to an Adobe Connect friendly format. I probably should have checked each set before using them. Possibly converting a PPT to a PDF would have retained the formatting better.
  • I had to continually refresh the Twitter search – I am still unsure if there is a way to have this done manually.
  • A couple of the plenaries included live demos. Although there are ways to share your screen the moderator needs to be prepared for this so they can replicate the link clicking. If possible ask your speakers what they are planning. In the final session we actually gave up replicating what the speakers were doing and ended up removing the document box and just using the video stream.

Conclusions

We peaked at around 30 remote attendees and had over 20 at all the sessions. Aside of a few technical difficulties at the start of day 2 we managed to provide good quality streaming throughout the event. Pauline did a great job of turning around the recordings and we were able to offer these on the same day as the talks were given (see individual talks for the recordings). Overall I would thoroughly recommend Adobe Connect for any event amplification, it was slick, fully customisable and easy to use. Thumbs up all round!

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