Edublogs Teacher Challenges

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Step 8: Using Webinars to build your PLN

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Welcome to the eighth step in our free professional learning series on building your PLN.

In this activity you will explore:

  1. How webinars can be used as part of your PLN.
  2. Benefits of actively participating in and/or presenting/facilitating webinars.

Jo pic for profilesThis 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.

Follow me on Twitter (@johart) to be notified of upcoming webinars.

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:

Edublogs webinars

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.

You can watch their archived webinars here and subscribe to their calendar to be notified of upcoming webinars here.

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.

Your Task

We’d like you to add your voice and ideas to our ongoing conversation about blogging by undertaking one or more of these challenges:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

19 comments for “Step 8: Using Webinars to build your PLN

  1. Dan Gallagher
    October 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

    It is interesting that this is step 8 and is so timely. I’ve started to assist in moderating ThingLink webinars. We have one tomorrow night, it is an Interactive Image Slam with some EdTech Superstars: Richard Byrne @rmbyrne & Shelly Sanchez Terrell @ShellTerrell. This type of webinar gives educators a chance to see how other educators are harnessing the power of ThingLink for learning/teaching. Please register to participate in this engaging experience:

    • Sue Waters
      October 30, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Hi Dan

      Thanks for sharing a link to the ThingLink Webinars. ThingLink is providing excellent professional development for educators. It is great to see how our educators have been using this professional development in creative ways with their students. showcasing their ThingLinks in their posts.

      You’ll find examples of some of their posts here –

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  2. Helen Rowling
    October 25, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Also… recently, I managed to participate in : an Introduction to Discipline-based Inquiry Learning (through ed web net). I found the seminar an exceptional summary of IBL in action and the benefits for future interactions (2/10/2014).

    Another one I still need to discover/play with more sites was ‘Creating Compelling Digital Lessons: The Easy Way -Sergio Villegas reiterating the positives of ‘Transparent learning for all students, carers, administration on hand at any time using Google Sites’ (30/9/2014)

  3. Helen Rowling
    October 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Hi! I am now following @suewaters and shall join one of her sessions. I have often joined Edweb online seminars and found international seminars online was one way of keeping up-to-date during my two years off work. I do believe it really helped me secure the next job I am heading to (2015) as I was asked to submit my PD during the last 12 months. Since I had taken 24 months off (without pay), it enabled the prospective employer to realise that I am proactive in my learning.

    • Sue Waters
      October 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Helen

      I occasionally do webinars when different organisations invite me to do sessions. Following me on twitter is a great way to find out when I’m presenting a webinar as I’ll often tweet a link to join the session about an hour before it starts.

      Thanks for sharing links to the webinar you’ve participated in.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  4. Cyndi
    October 20, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I logged on to (part of the NEA here in America) and found a webinar about flipped classrooms. I’m interested in how they work and if it’s beneficial for my students. Also, is it something my school should research? Here is the link to the webinar: I do like webinars for the time-saving aspect, especially if they’re archived. has many archived, and if you just Google “education webinars” you get a plethora of options. I see that sharing these with the people in your PLN would be a good way to share ideas and information, and your PLN can catch up with them as time allows.

    • Sue Waters
      October 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Cyndi

      Educators have differing opinions on flipped classrooms in terms of what it is and whether they are for or against it. Mary Beth’s article on the pros and cons on flipped classrooms is a good starting point to read it – I would also google Flipped classrooms new posts on the topic.

      Thanks for sharing your reflection on webinars.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  5. August 17, 2011 at 4:09 am

    I just wanted to come back and publicly thank you for adding webinars in the PLN challenge. Special thanks to Jo Hart for the Serendipity Webinars. I’m a little shy, and she helped build my confidence to take the mic during one of her webinars… Your time and investment in me came through today, as I became a guest speaker for a webinar for Peer Coaching. I knew exactly what to do and was comfortable in that role/medium. Thanks so much!

    Kind regards,

  6. August 12, 2011 at 9:16 am

    The last few weeks have been busy, but finally, here is an additional input to this challenge:

  7. August 10, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Hi Jo,
    I don’t know if it’s best to contact you here or Twitter, but I have an idea for a future webinar. It wouldn’t be for a bit down the road, but I am a “planaholic” and proud of it. =)

  8. August 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    I love what Denise Krebs wrote on her blog about webinars. This is just another example of how webinars help with PLN.

  9. July 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    So sorry for being so slow to respond – I will respond to indiv comments & posts soon. Have been working with #RSCON3 presenters to help with Elluminate, upcoming PD for colleagues & had migraine so severely behind. Promise to get back to you in next few days.


  10. July 24, 2011 at 3:34 am


    Thanks again for a very insightful post! I’ve created a post about my experience with Webinars:

    I’m excited to announce I’ll be presenting at EdmodoCon2011 August 10th! I’m not positive the time, but will post asap!


  11. July 23, 2011 at 11:51 am

    I have tried some of the Techtalk Tuesdays and I have found them really valuable. I only do them when it is something I want to learn. I don’t think so far it has been a way of building my PLN but it has cemented links with others. I am looking forward to doing some next weekend at the #rscon3 reform symposium where some of my PLN are presenting.

    • July 24, 2011 at 3:45 am

      I forgot to add this to my post! I’ve enjoyed recordings/followups of Anne Mirtschin’s Tech Talk Tuesdays! Unfortunately, I can’t participate in person because it’s about 1:30am my time. She is a wonderful innovator and presenter.

  12. July 23, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Hi Jo,

    This is a fabulous learning experience! I will take all the help I can get with this especially because of my first experience presenting on a webinar.

    My boss and I were brainstorming ideas today for Ed Tech PD and building PLN via webinars was part of the discussion. We need to visit during your webinars (which I hadn’t even known about until I read this post!), and then could we get some guidance from you on this?

    Thanks so much!

    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

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