Lessons Learned from my 1st Google Hangout On Air

I am so pleased to share that yesterday I held my very first Google Hangout on Air! I presented a webinar demonstrating how to contribute to an indexing initiative for student newspapers of historically black colleges and universities on behalf of my local chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society.  If you happen to be interested in this topic, please check out our page and view the webinar. But, I wanted to focus this blog post on my overall experience using Hangout on Air as a platform.

Making the Decision: I’ve done several webinars over the past few years; all have been done with GoToWebinar. However, as I began to consider hosting more webinars myself, I knew I wanted to try and leverage Google Hangouts on Air (HOA). When DearMyrtle starting using it as her preferred platform of choice, I particularly paid attention. A long-time fan, and even participant, of her webinars, it did not go unnoticed by me when she made the switch to HOAs; I’ve observed that she’s had great success since she started using it about 18 months ago. She’s been a great inspiration for me as I decided I would finally learn how to use HOA effectively. The benefits of using HOA as a platform are exactly as Myrt describes in one of her early experimentation HOAs - there are no “attendance” limits, the session is automatically archived on YouTube for later viewing, and it is FREE to use. It really doesn’t get much better than that does it?

Learning HOA: I have to admit, even as technically savvy as I consider myself to be, I found (an am still finding) the process of learning how to run HOA’s less than straightforward. The information on how to run them seems to be fragmented across personal blog posts and websites. Let’s just say I spent a lot of time Googling for information.  To that end, there are some that have businesses around teaching HOAs, a prominent one being Ronnie Bincer, whom I learned about from DearMyrtle. I have not yet subscribed to his materials, but with the free information he has, plus others, I pieced together enough information to get a basic understanding.  I have also practiced HOAs with friends.

Day Zero: So, the big day came and all went well! I don’t have time in this post to describe everything fully, but let me highlight what I feel were my biggest successes, and what I feel were my biggest challenges.

  • Successes#1: it worked! Just the fact that I managed to carry it off was a big win. I was able to switch back and forth effectively between the PowerPoint presentation and the internet browser. It took a lot of practice and troubleshooting, but it worked. #2 – we have viewers! We had about 10 people watching live and since then we are up to more than 50 views. While I did some publicity before the event, I didn’t do as much as I wanted. I will be doing more though because the webinar was on a project that is ongoing. #3 – I am happy with the outcome. The session went so very well! And, I am especially pleased to have the archived version on YouTube.
  • Challenges#1 My checklist was incomplete. There are SO MANY STEPS to take into account to get set up effectively and while I had a partial checklist, I need to make sure I do a complete and extensive checklist as there were things I just forgot to do. And having your checklist as part of timeline countdown to going live is important too.  #2 Comments – I failed at getting the viewer comments integrated into the HOA Control Room. So, I had to keep manually checking all the places could leave comments as I was doing the session. #3 Screen Resolution – when sharing my PowerPoint file and my internet browser, the screen resolution for the viewer was definitely less than optimal. I still haven’t figured out how I will correct this. The typical information you hear about HOAs is that it is important to be on a wired internet connection instead of a wireless connection. I tested two different high quality wired connection options and neither one improved the screen resolution to what I would have preferred. I will be doing more investigation. #4 – I am still not ready for JOINers – this webinar was screen share only; I still have to work my way up to having people join in as presenters.

Overall though, it was a fantastic experience and I am looking forward to doing more. You can definitely stay tuned as I make that happen. I am eager though because I see so much potential for more use of this for genealogical organizations and societies.

Have you used HOAs yet for your genealogy gatherings? Please comment if you have – I’d love to know about your experiences too.

 

 

 

A Whiteboard Animation for the TNGenWeb Project

I’m a huge fan of the work that is done by the CommonCraft team – Lee and Sachi.  For several years now, they’ve blessed the internetz with fabulous explanation videos. As their tagline says – their product is “explanation.”  Their whiteboard animation process really sparked a movement and we now see these types of videos popping up all over the place.

For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to learn how to do videos like they do, and I’ve finally had a chance to learn as yesterday I started reading their book, The Art of Explanation. In the book, they describe their approach, provide concrete examples of how they develop their videos, and I found it all quite interesting.  So, I decided to give it a try. :-)

Using VideoScribe, I was able to put together my first attempt at an explainer video today – this one is for the Who’s Who in TN website I created for the TNGenWeb Project.  The site has had fabulous coverage in the genealogy community and I continue to try and think of ways to further express how it can help a family researcher.  I may be biased, but I think the video helps get the point across. :-)

There are a couple of minor things in the video I wish I could have figured out how to correct, but, overall, I’m pleased with how it’s turned out and I have decided to let it be.

Take a look and let me know what you think. I just may have to upgrade to the Pro version of VideoScribe so I can refine the video and create more of them.  How fun!  Wouldn’t it be great to see more of these types of videos used to promote genealogy resources! Make it even more interesting for all?


Photo credit: https://exploreb2b.com/articles/5-reasons-your-brand-needs-an-explainer-video

Using Evernote and Trello

Approximately 18 months ago I started using Evernote; that is, seriously using it. It took me awhile to jump on the bandwagon because I am a Google Drive user and I found GDrive to be meeting my needs. At the same time though, I wanted to make sure I knew how to use Evernote and use it well.

I am happy to say that the experiment has been quite successful! I use Evernote now religiously for capturing all notes at work. The ability to search past notes had been a value for sure. I also use it for our homeschooling and extra educational activities for the kids. And of course, I use it for my genealogy. I have many notebook stacks that help me keep my material organized, and I appreciate being able to access it from the web as well as all my computing devices. When Evernote added automatic syncing across devices, it made life all the easier! Next year, I may look more closely into the Penultimate feature and explore using a stylus, but my concern with that is having a mix of handwritten vs. typed notes. Not sure I want the two to mix. The Smart Notebook also intrigues me.

Trello – example board

During my time with Evernote I have had an increasing need for more complex project management and while bulleted lists and checklists are great, I have found myself wanting more. More visual ways to see what I have coming up to do, and better ways to keep track of when I did them.

I have tried using several different “to-do list” apps but not stuck with them for I have not been able to establish a flow. I have now decided to look into Trello for my project management needs as it looks more sophisticated than some of what I have tried. I already have an account and have started to list my projects. I am excited by the potential and really hopes that it does work for me as well as Evernote has. I will post later and let you know how it turns out. :-)

If you are using it I would love to hear your feedback.

Do RSS Feeds Puzzle You?

Then you need to sign up for my upcoming, free webinar – “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.”   I was honored to be selected to do this webinar as part of the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2013 Jamboree Extension Series.

rss feed icon

The focus of the webinar is to guide you through the myriad of options you have for getting online genealogy news content delivered to you – with a specific emphasis on how to understand and take advantage of RSS feeds — you know, the mystery behind those orange icons you see all over the web.

It has been my experience that they are widely underused and I’d love the opportunity to explain just how great they are.  Google’s decision to kill Google Reader this summer helped make more people aware of what an RSS feed is but I think this will be a great opportunity to continue and help people understand them.

The official description for the webinar is below:

RSS feeds are powerful mechanisms for having online content delivered directly to you. With the plethora of genealogy sites available online, the information river can often seem overflowing. In this session, you will learn what RSS feeds are and how they are used, understand why they are beneficial to you as a web consumer and a web publisher, and survey the different types of RSS readers available – including the newest trends of magazine-style content delivery systems for aggregated news. Whether on your desktop or on-the-go, you can make online information work for you!

The presentation will be on Saturday, October 5th at 12pm central time. You can sign up at the SCGS website. It will be archived, but the archive is only available to SCGS members. Hope to *see* you there!

 

 

I’m Featured on Treelines.com!

Have you used Treelines.com yet?  I would highly suggest checking it out – it’s a great site that allows you to create visually interesting stories.  I learned about the site after learning that the site developer, Tammy Hepps, had won the 2013 Rootsweb Developer Challenge.  Ever-so-ready to explore new tools, I quickly signed up for an account and created my first story – one about what sparked my interest in my Koonce ancestors.

From my early use, I knew right away that I would like this site.  Particularly, how it makes story-telling accessible.  After RootsTech’s emphasis on storytelling this year, I realized while I share information here on my blog, I wasn’t doing well in the “storytelling” aspect, so I appreciated being able to use Treelines to do so.

Then, last week, I was contacted by Tammy who asked if I’d be interested in being profiled – so of course I said yes!  You can check out the interview on the Treelines blog.

I’m a 2013 Jamboree Webinar Presenter!


A few weeks ago, I shared that I’d submitted a webinar presentation for the Jamboree Webinar Extension Series the Southern California Genealogical Society hosts. I am so pleased to share that my webinar was accepted!

On Saturday, October 5th, 2013 I will present “Genealogy News at Your Fingertips: From RSS Feeds to Digital Magazine Platforms.” Here is the description:

RSS feeds are powerful mechanisms for having online content delivered directly to you. With the plethora of genealogy sites available online, the information river can often seem overflowing. In this session, you will learn what RSS feeds are and how they are used, understand why they are beneficial to you as a web consumer and a web publisher, and survey the different types of RSS readers available – including the newest trends of magazine-style content delivery systems for aggregated news. Whether on your desktop or on-the-go, you can make online information work for you!

I am too thrilled!  I’ve done webinars this summer on WordPress, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to help others really leverage the power of RSS feeds.

Now, my webinar is only one of 25 webinars on the 2013 schedule, so you will definitely want to check the offerings and see which ones you can sign up for.  You can’t beat the price either – FREE! Archives of all the webinars will be made available to SCGS members.

WordPress for Your Genealogy Site

Wow! What a great couple of months it has been! I’ve recently completed my 4-part webinar series with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy website and have been ever so pleased with the outcome.  Myrt is a wonderful hostess and everyone’s questions throughout the series really helped shape the content.  Thanks to everyone!

I have created a page on my blog in order to help capture some of my work with WordPress, so check it out if interested! I’m not sure how often I’ll post about WordPress in the future, but hopefully this won’t be the last you see of me and this wonderful publishing platform.

…and I want you to heart it too! :-)

My State Library & Archives Going Even More Digital


Don’t you just love it when you visit a library and they are on the ball when it comes to using technology?  I visited the Tennessee State Library & Archives yesterday and was happy to learn that they now have a digital book scanner.  Scanning book pages to USB is a dream come true – ooh yeah!

Of course I had to write about it! Check out my post on the TNGenWeb blog for more details.  

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 3: Features, Features & More Features

Thanks again to all that turned out for last night’s webinar with DearMyrtle on using WordPress for your genealogy site.  In this part of the series, we focused on using the self-hosted version of WordPress.  From installing it on your server , going through the initial setup checklist, to choosing from all the plugins, it was another detail-rich session. 

I unfortunately did not have time to cover some of my recommendations for finding themes, so would like to point out that with WordPress you can use themes from the theme directory that are FREE or you can purchase Premium Themes from online theme vendors and marketplaces.  Typically, premium themes comes with increased ability to let you change theme options without having to mess with the CSS style sheet. See the slides for a few additional thoughts. Whatever you do, be cautious in using themes on your site that you find in random Google searches – themes can contain code that  does your site harm. 

Below are the slides from the session – enjoy!

Additional Resources:

Follow-Up: WordPress Webinar Part 2: Dissecting the Dashboard

Last night we had another great webinar on WordPress! We had around 75 attendees or so as I checked throughout the session.  While last week we introduced everyone to WordPress and looked at the .com hompage, this time we really spent time going through most of the features of the Dashboard.

We covered a lot, and I still didn’t’ get to go through all I wanted to! Then, Myrt continued to work on Myrt’s site, this time with an emphasis on the Appearance options. 

Here are my slides from last night.  Keep in mind that these are demo/workshop sessions, so there are not many slides here, but you can have them for reference.  See my previous blog post for slides from Session 1

Part2_Dissecting the Dashboard

Thanks everyone for joining us! Parts 3 & 4 will be July 9th and July 16th so be sure to come back for more!