June 29 Day 478: Just a Glimpse

June’s MAA Social Hour was a grand experiment into new technology. And while it was fun (for those that got the technology to work), there were lessons to be learned for sure. It was my first foray into “speed networking. ”

I used Glimpse paired with a Zoom meeting as recommended by the post How To Do Speed Dating on Glimpse. It was easy to set up, (mostly) worked as advertised, and, for under 100 participants, free. Despite my best efforts at preparation, certain important issues didn’t register until they were needed. Mistakes were made.

Let me break it down for you:

  1. Devise and browser. On a computer, the Chrome browser is recommended. Edge and Firefox work. Safari is not supported. Glimpse does not work in a mobile browser, so tablet users needed to download the Glimpse app (available for iOS and Android.) I had read all of this. I had written it down for the introduction and promptly forgot to mention it during the orientation. Big mistake. I lost a handful of participants because I was not very good at troubleshooting while administering the event. I will know better for next time. If there is a next time.
  2. Always have a responsible co-host and pregame everything with different systems and configurations. My attention was drawn in too many directions. I needed someone else to help field questions, just so people knew they were being heard and their question would be addressed even if not instantaneously.
  3. If you are hosting solo, pause your participation in matches for the first 15-20 minutes (or until all beginning issues are resolved.) In retrospect, this is obvious. Issues arise early and my full attention should be there. Never having participated in a live Glimpse session, I didn’t know what things looked like until I logged in myself. It’s hard to help when you don’t know the lay of the land. See 2 above. I must apologize to Jonathan for not accepting our match. I was focused on troubleshooting and the window passed. I did accept a match with Su. She understood when I needed to help others. (Even if I hadn’t yet found the mute button.)
  4. As an administrator of the event, I had a “manage event” button that included the ability to send a message to all participants. It would have helped to know that sooner.

The Experience

The event started in Zoom as promised. Each person introduced themself by name, state, and one keyword (called tags in Glimpse). I ran through the conduct expectations for online interactions (both from Glimpse and the MAA). Finally I shared the url to join the session through the chat.

It is possible to run Zoom and Glimpse simultaneously but you must mute your microphone and camera in Zoom in order for them to work in Glimpse. I think it is less likely to cause connection issues to just sign out of Zoom (or as I tried, to have two different machines, one for Zoom and one for Glimpse.)

Being an experimental session, I was glad people could participate without having to create another account. Following the link, they saw this screen and could “continue as guest”.

Next each participant could upload a picture, describe themself in a brief sentence and select tags. I had a long list of tags. (ADMINISTRATION, AMERICAN MATH MONTHLY, BTS, BUSINESS-GOVERNMENT-INDUSTRY, CLASSICAL MUSIC, COLLEGE MATH JOURNAL, COMMUNITY, COMPUTATIONAL BIO, DATA ANALYTICS/SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENTAL MATH, FAMILY, FIND HOPE, GEOMETRY, GET OUTDOORS, HISTORY OF MATH, IBL, LEADERSHIP, LOVE MAA, MAA IDEAS, MAA INVOLVEMENT, MAA PUBLICATIONS, MAGIC, MATH & ART, MATH & SPORTS, MATH CIRCLES, MATH EDUCATION, MATH KNOWLEDGE FOR TEACHERS, MOVIES, NUMERICAL ANALYSIS, ORIGAMI, PHILOSOPHY OF MATH, PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, PROFESSORIATE, PUBLISHING A PAPER, RECREATIONAL MATH, REMOTE TO F2F, SECTIONS, STATISTICS, STATISTICS ED, TEACHING W/ TECHNOLOGY, TEXAS, TRAVEL, TWITTER, UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH.) The more tags you choose (for yourself) or the more tags you request (for your partner), the better likelihood of a match. If everyone picked all the tags, then the matches would be random. If a participant only picked one tag, say TWITTER, and no one else selected TWITTER, they would be waiting patiently for the entire session and never be matched. I can attest that participants selecting only one or two tags did not have many matches during the 1 hour session (and sometimes the match was repeated). Others selected several tags and had a plethora of matches. The only way I could figure out how to change tags was to leave the session and rejoin, starting from the beginning again.

I had set up extra activities for the matches including a photobooth, ice-breakers, and minigames. During the 5 matches I made, the only thing I managed to try was the photobooth with an MAA themed frame. I don’t know why Su and I weren’t themed but Jeanette, Dominic and I were. Nor did I realize there would be a Glimpse circle in the upper left corner or I would have moved the upper icosahedron from the left to the right.

Overall, this was fun. There were great (and MAA knowledgeable) people to talk with. It really felt like wandering the aisles of the exhibit hall at the summer meeting and running into friends. The bonus for me was the 5 minute limit. I am terrible at ending conversations. Glimpse gives fair warning and your conversation partner just fades away in the last 10 seconds.

I can see the benefit of the premium account if you are using Glimpse regularly. Then there is a lobby (like my separate zoom meeting), where participants can wait for their next match or trouble shoot connection questions in the chat. But for an occassional Glipmse, the free version worked just fine.

I’d be willing to try it again, if MAA people are interested.

I’m looking forward to teaching in-person in the Autumn Quarter. That being said, if we were to continue remote teaching, I’d think about using Glimpse to help students get to know one another and build community.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

2 thoughts on “June 29 Day 478: Just a Glimpse

  1. Jenny, I had so much fun at the speed-networking event that we used it as an icebreaker twice at the Circle on the Road Workshop for Math Circle Leaders last week. It went pretty smoothly for most, but not all, participants. Thanks for introducing it! I can’t wait to see what you come up with for future socials. 🙂


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