This week I had been quite excited to not only be a contributor but a participant in the K-12 Online Conference, in spite of a very hectic week, but I suffered disappointment for the second time when my headset somehow proved not to be compatible with the Elluminate environment software. Having experienced frustration the first time ten days ago, I attempted to go in extra early tonight to do the necessary sound checks. However, for some reason the java applet was not going to work in Firefox, the docking station was having difficulties recognizing the headset, and to make a long story short, I just could not get in to the environment until the event had already started. And, sure enough, my headset was not going to cooperate. This is a month-old usb headset that has been otherwise serving me well.
I spent half an hour trouble shooting, going in and out of the environment, testing, and so on. I finally could hear everything fine, but could not use the microphone. I tested the mic on audacity and it worked fine. Nothing I tried worked in the elluminate environment.
While all this was frustrating enough, what I found most disconcerting and disappointing was that my pleas for tech support were largely ignored. It seems as though no one was designated as a tech support person to trouble-shoot and help those who were having difficulties. The most advice I was given was direction to a tech support page for elluminate, which was not helpful at all.
For a conference that is striving to be community-driven, it is disappointing that the moderators would leave a participant struggling in the background.
The experience left me appreciating the perspective of a newbie who cannot get technology to work for them for some trivial reason. Technology then becomes off-turning and just not worth the effort. This conference is supposed to be inclusive, interactive, social computing at its best. When one voice is silenced because of a failure of technology, I guess I had expected collective supportive, not alienation and a sense of helplessness.