3heads-gear3headschatchecklistglobehead-lockhead-plusimaclife-ringlogo-cornelllogo-melbournelogo-northhamptonlogo-portsmouthlogo-small logo-vancouverlogo-yokohamamail-line mail-wings pdf pie-chartplayplugprinter skype website

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.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Webinars are a great tool to share and collaborate with others, in order to learn skills, techniques, ideas, and professional knowledge. It is a great way to be a part of a larger community of educators from around the world. I would like to integrate a webinar into my classroom.

    • Mary Ellen Mulderrig
  2. I enjoy webinars as they are an easy way to develop myself as an educator. I like the tech-related webinars because integrating technology into my classroom has been a challenge for me. I think there is great opportunity to grow through something as simple as participating in these types of webinars.

    • I am a future educator and I was just wondering if you had any specific webinars that you really enjoyed that has helped you technology in the classroom?

  3. Webinars can be very helpful and provide useful information. They unfortunately are not typically very engaging or entertaining. Using different tools this could possibly change.

  4. The coding webinar was somewhat informative as a general introduction. I noticed the level of involvement by the participants was high and that many had some insight and information to share. What I most noticed was the level of peer to peer communication by the participants.
    Thank you,

    The benefits of learning to code

  5. I went back to look at the webinars. The one regarding the apps for learning was the Fine Focus webinar from 9/10 April 2014. The link is:
    Here one of the participants, Sandra shared her scoopit website where she touches the subject of apps for learning. (http://www.scoop.it/t/ipad-applications-by-sandra18). Even with all the technical difficulties I found it really interesting.
    Then, I listened to the Serendipity one for 23/24 April 2014. This one was a more informal webinar where the participants suggested the topic and voted on the topic to be discussed. They decided on the topic about how to improve relations with parents and also on the benefits of being a blog follower. The link for that one is:
    I found it interesting that the participants were giving each other ideas of how to communicate effectively with parents. One of the participants was teaching at a multistage classroom. His name is Shane McMillan and he was sharing how his classroom works and how communicating with parents is so important. Texting parents for him works well. Also, they talked about using social network communication where the parents can access information quickly. For the benefits of being a blog follower, they mentioned that it helps to understand someone else, that sometimes we follow people we respect or like the way they are thinking even if they are not the most obvious people to be following. Another participant talked about spam and that sometimes we get information that was unexpected but interesting thru that. Both webinars were really interesting and informative.

  6. I particularly liked the one on Serendipity regarding the apps for student learning. The link is:
    Here one of the participants, Sandra shared her scoopit website where she touches the subject of apps for learning. (http://www.scoop.it/t/ipad-applications-by-sandra18). Even with all the technical difficulties I found it really interesting.

  7. A webinar is an online session or workshop delivered over the Internet using a video conference tool like BlackBoard Collaborate

    Creates a global focus, post more often about other topics by sharing more. Creates confidence through presenting to larger groups, and gets larger and larger.

    Benefits of actively participating in and/or presenting/facilitating webinars?
    Allows to expand globally and assists in personalising the learning network by creating a specific audience for yourself and whom ever you want to follow.

  8. I listened to a webinar on tablet apps and one on serendipity play in learning. It was different. I can see how this would help as an educator to find a group that works well together sharing ideas. I liked how they could text in while the moderator was talking to engage more in the conversation. I could see the benefits of this type of group in a pln.

  9. I participated in multiple webinars for TFA. They were helpful in that they offered quite a bit of information that was important. The webinars allowed participants to ask questions through chat without disrupting the webinar, which I appreciated more in theory than in practice. Basically, people asked really good questions that I could see and I often got caught up in the responses and distracted from what was being shared anyway. Personally, I don’t love webinars overall. I tend to prefer in-person interactions, so I wasn’t a fan.

  10. As a graduate student at Chatham University, I attended quite a few webinars as part of my Data Driven Decision Making course. It was a course that was partially online, and partially on campus. We used webinars for the online sessions and it was a way to still feel like part of a traditional classroom because you could interact with your classmates and instructor through verbal or written comments. Its amazing that technology brought us all together even though we were all in different locations. I also attended a webinar this year as part of professional development for new teachers. All of my experiences with webinars thus far have utilized PowerPoint as the method to share information. I am curious to know what other formats are used in webinars as well.

    • Mary Beth Kulin
  11. The recent webinars that I have been apart of have allowed for all viewers to text chat. This was a great way to help ask and answer small issues that arose during the presentation of information. This allowed the presenter the ability to continue without interruption while the group asked and answered each others questions about the information being presented. This communication led to building bridges between those participating and helping to expand each participants PLN.

    • Daniel Surovchak
  12. 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: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7630112979515276289

    • Dan Gallagher
    • 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 – http://edublogs.org/reader/?rs=thinglink

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  13. 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). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVhKTMFCgq0

    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)

    • Helen Rowling
  14. 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.

    • Helen Rowling
    • 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

  15. I logged on to gpsnetwork.org (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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drK6toaDC9s I do like webinars for the time-saving aspect, especially if they’re archived. gpsnetwork.org 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.

    • 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 – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/flipped-classroom-pro-and-con-mary-beth-hertz I would also google Flipped classrooms new posts on the topic.

      Thanks for sharing your reflection on webinars.

      Sue Waters
      Support Manager
      Edublogs | CampusPress

  16. 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,

  17. 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. =)

  18. 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.


  19. Jo
    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.

    • 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.

  20. 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

  21. Pingback: eT@lking: Blogging++ (Travelling with Mr ‘Davo’ Devil & Student Blogging Challenge) | amidoinitrite?

  22. Pingback: PLN Challenge #8: Webinars – an extra dimension for your PLN? | Teacher Challenge | It-pedagogik och mobilt lärande | Scoop.it

  23. Pingback: PLN Challenge #8: Webinars – an extra dimension for your PLN? | Teacher Challenge | E-Learning-Inclusivo | Scoop.it