Sock Monkey Portrait #3 by Ryan Poplin is shared using a CC BY SA 2.0 Generic License (retrieved from Flickr.com)
So it happened this morning that technology played a spoiler to the beginning of a lovely online winter conference. From extensive personal experience I feel the pain of coordinators, presenters, and participants in this. For those that work in online teaching and learning, and technology-enabled spaces, technology is once, and always both an empowerment and a constraint. I once joked with a colleague that my technology-fail backup for interviews should be sock puppets. It became enough of a joke that I began to take it seriously. I took a mind to actually give it a go.
My children were at a stage when creating things like sock puppets was interesting to them, so we went with the traditional monkey style and made 3 or 4 different models. I took them with me to a rather important interview, just in case. I had a presentation to deliver, and in a common experience of the day, the projector would not connect to my Macintosh computer for love or money. I very happily pulled out the sock puppets and let the team know this was my technology fall-back plan. I was able to create a nice dialogue about the challenges of asynchronous communication in online discussion forums, and got the job. It’s the kind of thing that colleagues will talk about for many years, and it became a “thing” on the team I was working with. We all carried sock puppets with us to presentations, and were able to make light of some of the stressful challenges.
Seriously, who can resist the fun of sock puppets. It’s also an excellent tool to assuage introverted awkwardness, for those of us that suffer from such maladies. Or maybe it’s the most awkward thing ever. Either way, I encourage you to craft a set, or hire some young children to help you, and carry them in your presentation/facilitation kit.