Professional blogging for beginners—a reflection

For Connected Educator Month this year I thought it would be good to step out of my comfort zone a little and present a short webinar with someone I’ve never met before! So I contacted Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22) a few weeks ago and asked if she was interested to present on blogging. She was! Step one complete.

We had a quick Google Hangout where we talked for the first time ever virtually (other than through Twitter) and semi-planned out the session. There might have been a slight “wing it” attitude from both of us but we were a bit more prepared than that. Step two complete.

Stepping out a bit further we decided to run a Hangout on Air. I’ve used Adobe Connect a lot to run training sessions etc, but hadn’t actually used Hangouts on Air, so whether this was a good idea or not we were going to find out! In the end it seemed to work okay except that it seemed that the audience that we knew were there weren’t really a part of the session except through the odd question in the Q&A panel.

All in all it was an interesting experience and the recording of the session is available on YouTube (and embedded at the end of this blog post).

What did I learn? It’s good to try something new and once again step out of our comfort zone. Google Hangouts might not be the best “webinar” tool but it is definitely usable. And it’s fun to do something with someone you’ve only met through Twitter!

I’m looking forward to meeting Alex during the next few days at Ulearn in Rotorua!

If you want to watch the webinar, here it is.

Reflecting on the earthquake evacuation

As many of you will be aware, central New Zealand was rocked by a series of strong earthquakes yesterday (Friday 16 August, 2013) beginning with a M6.6 at about 2:30 pm. Less than a month ago we were shaken by a M6.5. In my opinion the M6.5 felt worse, more rough, than the M6.6 which felt wavy (like being on a boat) however I know different people experienced the earthquake differently. Perhaps I was lucky to be on the ground floor of a building rather than swaying several floors up in a high-rise.

I was in a meeting at the time of the quake yesterday and after the shaking ended we continued our meeting until the floor warden came past telling us we had to evacuate the building. It was unclear whether we were going to be allowed back in at all so I grabbed my bag and walking shoes and headed out. I waited for several minutes outside with some staff but we were still unclear as to what was happening. Several started to leave and then I thought about the fact that trains would likely be cancelled so everyone was going to be trying to get on a bus. At this point I hadn’t realised that all of Wellington had been told to leave but I quickly realised this was the case.

I usually catch a bus, however my bus stop is the last before heading onto the motorway. I knew it was unlikely that I would be getting on the bus at that stop so I headed further into the city. I waited for a while at one bus stop but realised I hadn’t gone far enough. I met a colleague and we decided to head further into the city. Was this a crazy thing to do with all the high-rise buildings around and the possibility of further large shakes? I’m not sure. We waited at some other bus stops with no luck and then we decided to catch a bus going in the wrong direction, further into the city, but towards the start of the bus service. This paid off for us in the end. We got off the bus and only waited a few minutes before managing to get on the bus we needed to catch. By this stage an hour had passed since I left work. We probably only got one or two stops further on before the bus was full. It paid off going the wrong direction to get on the bus home.

It was a very slow bus ride, as I knew it would be, but about an hour later I was off the bus in Lower Hutt and just over an hour later I had made it home after catching a second bus. My normal 45 minute-1 hour commute took me 3 hours from when I left work.

So what did I learn from the experience?

  1. Sometimes you’ve got to go in what seems to be the wrong direction to reach your goal. It’s all part of overcoming the barriers. Not all roads are straight – you’ve got to go around lakes and over hills…
  2. I need a new pair of walking shoes. My shoes were okay, but if this earthquake was more damaging I may have been walking home. I think I would have struggled with this in the shoes I had yesterday.
  3. I need to get a new phone. The battery on my phone is nearly totally stuffed. One short call and it’s practically dead. Of course texting is often best in an emergency like this.
  4. It’s definitely time to have an emergency pack ready at work. I know it’s crazy after the big shake a few weeks ago and the hugely damaging and fatal earthquake in Christchurch in February 2011, but I’m still not prepared at work. One of the main things I wanted yesterday was a drink. I managed to get one once I was in Lower Hutt but that was 2 hours after setting off. It was also getting very cold as I started my short walk from the bus stop to my home. I was glad for my beanie, but realise on a worse day I would have needed more.
  5. Bus drivers are awesome! They did a fantastic job keeping their passengers safe and dealing with distressed people wanting to get home but not being allowed on the full buses.

This earthquake was a bit of a wake-up call for me. I knew in a bad earthquake that it would be difficult to make the journey home, but the fact I’ve now had to do it, I realise how unprepared I really am.

Thankfully this series of earthquakes has not had the same impact as those suffered in Christchurch. I feel for those in and around Seddon where the earthquakes are centred as they have borne the brunt of the damage. As we continue to feel the effects of the aftershocks I trust everyone stays safe and watches out for each other.