Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Autism Revolution: Chronic, Persistent & Changeable Features (Martha Hebert)


The admirable Dr. Archana Singh Sikarwar (IMU lecturer) invited Dr Martha Herbert (a prominent Harvard Medical School researcher and clinician) to give a Keynote talk for the AUTISM: Insight and Interventions seminar at IMU on 21 -22 September, 2012. Due to Dr. Martha's busy schedule, she could only agree to do a webinar or Skype session with the participants.

Dr. Archana needed help to make this work, and then (of course!) linked up with IMU e-Learning (led by Fareeza) for a practical solution that works. After some discussion, we agreed on a 3 step model to ensure quality and minimize the potential hiccups on the way:

    To avoid buffering and ensure quality audio synchronized with the slide presentation, we arranged with Dr. Martha to record the lecture using WizIQ (web conferencing/webinar tool) a few days before the seminar. As she was not too familiar with WizIQ, I coached her the basics in 5-10 minutes (splendid student, so not much of a problem!), and we did a quick pilot-run to ensure everything was in tip-top condition, especially the microphone and webcam. Although, WizIQ empowers us to record the webinar, we used Camtasia to record the session, and then edited it (by Gomalah) and finally converted it to a video format (which was later uploaded to YouTube).    

  2. VIEW
    Then during Dr. Martha's Keynote session we showed the video (offline) to the participants. Although, it is not the same as her in person, it is without doubt an inspiration to have such a prominent and amazing person involved in our seminar sharing her expertise and insights about Autism, and how we can help Autistic children in so many ways. Unfortunately, due to her schedule, the Q&A session had to be scheduled for the day after. However, that gave the organizer time to collect questions from the participants, which they sent to Dr. Martha by e-mail.

  3. Q&A
    For the Q&A session with Dr. Martha we used Skype (more suitable than WizIQ for this), and this gave participants who were present on the second day to ability to ask questions and interact with her live, too.

Ideally, the lecture and Q&A should be conducted live together using video conferencing, web-conferencing or even Skype, but sometimes we need to use creative approaches to make sure everyone is available and that we avoid technical issues such as loss of connection, buffering and bad audio/video quality. Also, since there was a 12-hour time difference (night time for Dr. Martha), I thought overall we did a pretty good job, and learned some important lessons on the way (shared above briefly).

More importantly, Dr. Martha has allowed us to share to this inspiring webinar talk about Autism on YouTube, which is wonderful. 

Finally, I got to personally meet online, interact and coach Dr. Martha, which was a simply a great pleasure. Thank you!  

To know more about how remarkable Dr. Martha Hebert is, you might want to also explore her research and latest book: The Autism Revolution.


Alright, I shall not keep you reading anymore...VoilĂ :

As a result, now many more people can be inspired by her inspiring talk on Autism. Should you miss the recorded webinar for any reason, please at least download the TEN TIPS on how to help children with Autism (PDF). 

Finally, I have taken the proactive liberty to replicate these 10 tips below, because they are simply too important to forget or ignore:

Dear Dr Martha Herbert thank you so much for sharing your insights on Autism, and hopefully inspiring many more of us to help children with Autism in a more humane and constructive manner. We can all learn and do more :)

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