Welcome to the eighth step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.
In this activity you will explore:
- How webinars can be used as part of your PLN.
- Benefits of actively participating in and/or presenting/facilitating webinars.
This post was co-written by Jo Hart who is passionate about helping others to use technology with students. Jo Hart is a lecturer in Literacy and Numeracy (with some IT) in the public Vocational Education and Training sector (TAFE) in Western Australia. Jo is also the driving force behind the free weekly Edublogs Serendipity and Fine Focus online webinars.
A webinar is an online session or workshop delivered over the Internet using a video conference tool like BlackBoard Collaborate, Abode Connect or Google Hangout. Webinars are normally held at set time and are a great way to receive information in an interactive format with audio, video and a chat channel.
I can see you reading the title and are thinking how are webinars part of a PLN? Aren’t they just a formal professional development activity?
The answer to that is both “Yes” and “No”.
Some webinars are large formal presentations, where interaction is limited and even the potential for backchannelling through textchat is restricted.
However there are also webinar series such as the Edublogs Serendipity/FineFocus series where one of the main objectives is participant interaction and sharing. These are the webinars that have a major role in my PLN.
Back in late 2008 @suewaters and myself were talking about “e-stuff”. Slowly the idea was born from Sue Waters’ passion for sharing “e-stuff” and my similar but latent passion and my Blackboard Collaborate virtual class experience. The idea was weekly webinar sessions for educators from anywhere to share and learn about ‘e-stuff”.
When we started the webinars it was just a group of people getting together to talk about anything relating to “e-stuff” and education in its broadest sense. Sue would Tweet before we started and then again once we had decided a topic. There were very few webinars happening at the time and those that did occur were more likely to be presentations moved to an online environment rather than the interactive unconference style we adopted.
The Edublogs Serendipity/FineFocus webinars, have continued and evolved. We still have webinars every week except for one or two weeks over Christmas. They are on the same day Thursday and at the same time (23:00 GMT/UTC) and in the same Blackboard Collaborate Edublogs community partnership room every week.
Using Webinars are part of your PLN
Below is my personal list, with some examples from my own experience, of ways that being involved in a webinar series as participant and also as a presenter can strengthen your PLN:
1. Connect with global educators
At the beginning my e-horizons were bounded by physical area where I live in Western Australia with some tenuous links to the Eastern states of Australia. The webinars have always had a global focus and attracted participants from around the world, initially because of Sue’s huge worldwide PLN. As a result my own PLN is worldwide and my e-horizons are now global!
My Twitter network originally consisted of Sue and about three others. Now even though I have never actively sought to grow my Twitter network I have close to 3,000 followers. Much of this growth happened as a result of the webinars. The nucleus of my PLN is those people that I “met” through the webinars in the early days and I still regularly add to my Twitter network when we share Twitter IDs during the webinars.
2. Sharing More
I now blog about the most recent webinar. This has been great discipline for me. I am not a “natural” written reflector and have found blogging really hard to do consistently despite being very aware of its importance to my PLN. The webinars have given me a focus and I now post more often about other topics.
3. Confidence through presenting
My experience in facilitating the webinars has enabled me to present/facilitate confidently with large audiences in virtual global conferences.
This has also helped other participants who have presented in one or more of the following: full sessions; short “show and tell” sessions or on an impromptu basis in Serendipity sessions. They have gain experience in a virtual context and this has given them confidence to present at global conferences or other webinar series.
How to get started
There are lots of free webinars available for educators.
Here are some to get you started:
The Edublogs Serendipity/FineFocus webinars are on the same day Thursday and at the same time (23:00 GMT/UTC) and in the same Blackboard Collaborate Edublogs community partnership room every week.
Watch the following video to learn more about the Edublogs webinar series.
Classroom 2.0 live
Classroom 2.0 Live is co-hosted by Peggie George, Lorie Moffat and Tammy Moore each Saturday, except during holidays, for an hour starting at 9:00am PST/10:00am MST/11:00am CSTl/12:00pm EST.
Watch the following video to learn more about Classroom 2.0 live webinars.
Tech Talk Tuesdays
Tech Talk Tuesdays is a regular online webinar offered every Tuesday during Victorian, Australia school terms, from 3:45 – 4:45 PM Australian EST.
Most sessions feature a guest presenter. However on some occasions un-conference sessions occur where the participants have a chance to ask questions, discuss issues, share resources.
We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about blogging by undertaking one or more of these challenges:
- If you have a passion for something educator and e-stuff related, a tool/application or student activity you would like to share then put your hand up to present/facilitate a FineFocus session about your topic of choice. This is not about jumping in the deep end! We suggest you come to a session first then chat with me about what you would like to do – I can then help you achieve this via Blackboard Collaborate. Leave a comment on this post if you would like to present/facilitate a FineFocus session so we can organize this.
- Participate in at least two webinars from a series. Leave a comment on this post to tell us about your experiences of participating in the webinars – especially whether you have gained anything with respect to your PLN.
- Check out some of the webinar overviews on my blog choose two with topics that interest you. It would be good if one is a Serendipity and the other a FineFocus as they are very different in style. Follow the recording links and view the webinars (try not to get too frustrated because you can’t join in). Leave a comment on this post to share your thoughts about the webinars (including the links to the overview blog posts for them) – did you see/hear activities happening in those sessions that would increase/strengthen participant PLNs about your experiences on your blog.
Also feel free to leave a comment to ask any questions or share your tips.