Post Virtual Meetup Thoughts

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"That was about as close to an epic fail as we've ever had."

It's pushing toward noon on June 1st, 2010. Also known as yesterday. The Sonlight Virtual Meetup was carrying on, but I have no idea how. Two minutes after we were supposed to be well under way and I was still on the phone trying to figure out what we were doing. I had completely failed to properly explain what was going on. Worse yet, half of what I thought was going to go on now couldn't. The chat room was flying by much like Gandalf as he plunges into the depths with the Balrog. And now, almost two hours after the start, I've learned that our "toll-free number" was anything but and that our webinars could only hold 96 people. Worse yet, not all presenters could call in and annoying alerts went off any time someone actually got onto the conference line.

The problems didn't abate. Not yet. Our internal chat system gave in at a crucial moment. We learned of an Internet Explorer bug that crashed with large chat rooms. The audio for the live video stream cut out a few times. And more than once we toasted our winner selection tool because we were overloading it.

Toss in a few people who got echo with the videos, a strange YouTube glitch, some scheduling conflicts and a few other pieces that simply never came together... and... well... Suffice it to say that there were times I wanted to assume the fetal position in the corner and cry. Or run screaming from the building. Better yet: Both at the same time.

It was insane. And yet, over 1,000 people had a great time.

As I drove home, tears filled my eyes. I couldn't figure out how to breathe. The graciousness of the Sonlight community. The overwhelming support and encouragement we felt as we bumbled through our first virtual meetup. The things I'd failed to do. The solutions we'd tossed together on the fly. The ups and downs. Sarita's incredible session. The enthusiasm for the give-aways. The way things just kept rolling. And the crazy moment when it was all over. It was too much.

As we discussed everything we'd learned this morning, the tears came back. What an incredible experience! What an amazing group of people! What a joy it was to hang out with you all day yesterday... partly because of all the madness that was going on in the background. "Memorable" is the right word, but like all memories I expect to look back on this event with fondness.

And so today we started on moving forward. As my coworker pointed out yesterday: This really didn't go so well at the start. I never like hearing "epic fail" associated with something I'm trying to do <smile>. So we're learning and trying to figure out how to overcome some of the hurdles we tripped over.

I am so grateful for you; both your patience in the glitches and your participation in the event. I'm grateful for my coworkers who hung in there with me and helped fix all the problems that arose. And, despite my frustration, I'm grateful for the technology that allowed us to spend the day with over a thousand friends across the globe in real time.

And so, in the end, what started as almost an epic fail became an epic win.

Have any of your homeschool experiences felt like that? Have you seen something that was falling apart come together in the end?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

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7 Responses to Post Virtual Meetup Thoughts

  1. Amy @ Raising Arrows says:

    Luke,
    There came a point yesterday where I just started praying for all of you because it was so overwhelming and there were some being less than gracious. However, you are right...the bulk majority of the 1000+ were rolling with the punches and having a good ole time.

    It was a lot to take in all at once for you, for us, for everyone. But honestly, it was all worth it in the end to hear Sarita's encouragement. If nothing else, it solidified for me that my choice of curriculum is backed by a faith-filled company, led by a faith-filled woman.

    Thank you,
    Amy
    http://www.raisingarrows.net

  2. Harmony says:

    I thought it was great! Sure there were things that could have been done better but for a first attempt I don't think it was too bad. Despite all the things that went "wrong," so many things went right. I found many encouraging words from Sonlight staff as well as other homeschooling moms on the chat. (Though it was going by awfully fast!) I also managed to get most of the day off to enjoy the time just for me. With a few breaks to switch movies for the kids. LOL Great job! I'm sure you'll take this and run with it to make the next one even better. And I really really hope there will be a next time.

  3. homeschoolmom says:

    Luke,
    For a first time virtual meet-up with over 1000 people in attendance, I think it all went as well as could be expected! And I know if you ever do another virtual meet-up, you'll be able to make it even better knowing what you do now.

    I'm hoping to be able to re-watch some of the videos--especially Sarita's--and maybe even have my hubby watch 'em too. So please be sure to let us know if you make them available online.

    Thanks again for all your hard work! It was a day of encouragement and fun. I do hope we can do another virtual meet-up again sometime!

  4. Luke says:

    Thank you for your prayers, Amy! And I'm so glad to hear that it was an enjoyable and encouraging time. And, yes, I thought Sarita's presentation went really well <smile>.

    Harmony, we're looking to do another one, yes <smile>. Glad you had a blast!

    Stephanie, we'll be sure to let you know when the videos are available. ...in fact, I just may blog about them today <wink>. When we have everything up and ready we plan to let everyone know.

    ~Luke

  5. TerritaJane says:

    I was especially touched by your fathers recount of the difficult times at Sonlight and his honesty regarding how the dark hours troubled his soul.

    And as far as having an epic fail, well count me in. This entire year has seemed like and epic fail for me and yet somehow the kids keep learning. Yes, there are some gaps in the content. But I know that those gaps can be filled. We all fall sometimes, so we might as well (in the word's of Woody from Toy Story), "Fall with style" if we can't be flying!

    I missed Sarita's session, but let me tell you I think God let me in to hear your dad's "testimony" alone. I really needed to hear his heartfelt honesty.

  6. Luke says:

    Jane, thanks for the encouragement! You can now watch Sarita's segment on the Meetup 2010 page. May next year be full of much more flying than falling <smile>.

    ~Luke

  7. Pingback: Sonlight Celebrates 20 Years! | Sonlight Homeschooling Blog

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