While the traditional model for roundtable delivery is a monthly face-to-face meeting, when a district covers a very large area, distance may inhibit in-person attendance by those who live farthest from the roundtable site. Some districts report that they carefully select a roundtable site as close as possible to the majority of their units, so no one group of leaders is required to drive much farther than the rest. Others rotate roundtables between two or even three locations on a regular basis, so that roundtables take place near each major population center at least once each quarter. One district reported that it sometimes holds as many as three roundtables a month in different locations around the district. The question is “Are there other ways to deliver the message?”
In an article in the Fall 2013 edition of The Commissioner, we asked whether any of you have used technology resources so unit leaders can participate in roundtables remotely when they are unable to participate in person. We received some responses, but we need many more. We encourage everyone who has used technology resources to contact Dan Maxfield at email@example.com, so we can collect and share information about what has worked well and what hasn’t worked so well. Please review the questions posed in the article and answer all that are applicable to your situation.
Tony Fleurent, of the York District, Pine Tree Council (Maine), is experimenting with YouTube videos to reach unit leaders in his far-flung rural district. His November roundtable videos have been viewed both by unit leaders who were unable to attend the roundtable in person and by leaders who wanted to review the material they saw presented live. Early feedback has been very supportive.
Tony used a palm-sized video camera (borrowed from his local public access TV station) mounted on a tripod to record both the general/announcement session and the Boy Scout breakout session. He reported that a single 16-gigabyte SD card was more than adequate to record the entire roundtable. He edited the video using Magix software (available at Best Buy and other places for around $100) and uploaded it to YouTube in three parts: the general session and two separate Boy Scout topics. Tony did that in part because YouTube limits the length of videos to 30 minutes each, and in part so people could go directly to the part of the roundtable in which they were most interested. It took about 30 to 45 minutes to edit each segment to obtain the final 25-minute videos for posting on YouTube. The videos have received more than 100 total views, so the time and effort to create them has been worthwhile. Tony reports that about equal numbers of people have viewed the videos on computers and on portable devices (such as smartphones and tablets).
If you are thinking about recording your roundtables and don’t have a lot of experience creating videos, Tony has some good suggestions:
- Make sure the camera battery is fully charged. Also, come prepared with a power cord in case the roundtable length exceeds the battery life. You don’t want to miss part of the roundtable because the camera battery dies.
- Place the camera where it has an unobstructed view of the presenters and near enough that the camera’s microphone records their voices clearly. Some cameras may allow you to plug in a remote microphone, which may give more flexibility in camera placement and may improve audio quality as well.
- Remind other attendees not to walk or stand in front of the camera while it is recording.
- Test everything with a practice session to make sure the video quality and audio quality are acceptable.
If you have created YouTube or other types of videos of your roundtables, please let us know. Share your experiences (and tips) by contacting Dan Maxfield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good roundtables promote great Scouting. Our youth deserve the best! So let’s provide good roundtables.