What time is it? Time zones, spheres of influence and neo-colonialism in a global online world.
Presenter Nigel Mitchell
Teacher in Adelaide, South Australia
Works with e-learning, social media and web 2.0 tools in education
Handout There is a Google Document at http://tinyurl.com/CO11nbmwhich contains my contact information. Please use this document to share any questions, comments and resources about the topic during and after the presentation.
Map source: www.timeanddate.com The time is 21:00 hours UTC on 4 February 2011 Please use the writing tools to place a mark on the map near your location, and have a go at adding in your name and current time (you will need to change the text colour to white)
The problem The internet is open 24 hours per day I am waking up in the morning when people in the North America are having lunch, and people in Europe are going to bed. How do we arrange things so we can communicate?
The good old days Asynchronous communication ............. or
but The post is slow Conferences are expensive (time, travel, accommodation, absence from normal work, ...)
So you want to have an online conference?
Whose time zone do you use? The time zone of the main organiser/sponsor? The time zone of the majority of your expected participants? Try to list a selection of times? GMT/Zulu/UTC? ....... All of these have some advantages and disadvantages
UTC Universal Co-ordinated TimeCo-ordinated Universal TimeTemps UniverselCoordonné International standard timeThe same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) UTC is the International standard. It advantages no-one, it privileges no-one. It is not difficult to learn what your local time is relative to UTC. This is a constant, except when/if you have daylight saving time.
Discussion Advantages of using UTC Disadvantages of using UTC
Time zone converters There are lots of great sites that convert time zones. Most have advertising, but they are quite useful anyway. There are some listed on the Google Doc for this session, and please feel free to add any others there that you find useful. It is important to check that the site you use adjusts for daylight savings time. Some don’t!
Online conferences If the conference is mainly for a specific national or regional audience: Advertise sessions in local time Don’t bother having sessions at night Recording sessions may be useful, but not essential If the conference is for a global audience: Advertise sessions in UTC, and provide links to a reliable time zone conversion site Be open 24 hours a day, and make sure there are facilitators and moderators on duty at all times Record all sessions so people can catch up on what they missed when they were at work or asleep.
An alternative view The world is a ‘smaller place’ because of new technologies... but we cannot be everywhere and do everything. Maybe there is an argument for ‘spheres of influence’, e.g. North/South America, Europe/Africa, Australia/Asia/the Pacific. There are some problems here (not the least of which is ... who looks after the Middle East?) If we operate on ‘spheres of influence’ then the time zone issue is not so important... but what would be the disadvantages of such a plan?