If you had seen me running this past Saturday morning you would have thought I was running alone, lost in the music of an MP3 player. Normally you would be correct. In reality I was running in a 10K race against over 86,000 people from around the world.
The event I participated in was the Nike+ Human Race 10K sponsored by Nike. This was a virtual race around the world where people could sign-up and run anywhere they wanted. All you had to do was sign-up for the race. Then on October 24th run 10 kilometers measured with Nike's Nike+ system. Once you finished your 10K you synced your iPod or Nike+ armband and the results were posted on the Nike Running website. I believed I finished 17,522nd achieving my goals of finishing the race and not finishing last. Not bad for someone who battled injuries during the last month.
This was not the only virtual event I attended in the last few days. Friday, I was asked to assist a District consultant as he did a Web 2.0 training session for Media Specialists and their assistants. Half of this group met in Hilton Head (where I was located) and the other half were in Beaufort. This was the first chance we had to use our district's new video conferencing system. It was interesting watching this man attempt to work with the group in Beaufort.
You could tell he was not used to using a video conferencing system. I warned him doing virtual training could be disconcerting before we started. This was based on on my experience using WizIQ for some training sessions I conducted. For one thing, our consultant liked to move around and was not used to using a TV camera. If you use a video camera you have to be relatively still otherwise you might make your audience sick with the camera panning rapidly. Another problem he seemed to have is he likes to feed off his audience. With video conferencing or other distance learning you have to trust your group is with you. It was interesting (and amusing) to watch this unfold.
As technology progresses we will have to learn to work in a virtual world because all of our students will not be located in one physical location.