Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – four topics!


This recorded Serendipity session was a little different from usual in that we took a brief look at several different topics:

  • 2 minute teaching presentations in job interviews
  • managing image sizes
  • technology troubles
  • the new look Twitter – what are the differences

This was fun – we used the timer to ensure that we spent similar time on each topic.

The Session

We started with “2 minute teaching presentations” this topic was proposed by a participant who has a job interview coming up. It is a topic that I think most teachers find interesting bcause we have all been there at some point whether it be a 2 minute, 5 minute or 10 minute presentation. In my personal opinion the shorter the time they allow the harder it is! We used a whiteboard to make suggestions and there was also discussion in text chat and through audio.

The second topic was “managing image sizes”. A topic which often surfaces as a result of people trying to send  files (eg “Powerpoint) by email or to upload them and discovering that they are too large for sending and/or they take an inordinate length of time to upload.

As someone who lives in a “bandwidth challenged” region it is an issue close to my heart! Because of this I probably talked to much in this part of the session :). The topic was the subject of a Fine Focus webinar “Imagine your Image” overview here some time ago and is also one the the Free Tools Challenges in the Edublogs Teacher Challenges. There were a variety of links, tips and ideas for image management shared in text chat  As a result of the discussion @philhart with input from @MrsSOnline produced a Google Doc on managing images post download from camera and has posted about this with the link on his blog in “Pictures and presentations: an issue of size”.

Our third topic “technology troubles” lent itself very well to a whiteboard where we shared the technology troubles that are currently at the top of our respective lists. For several of us one of these was the perennial “getting others to use the tech!”. One of the best things about this sort of topic is the realisation that “one is not alone”! Another plus was the sharing of suggestions on how to solve particular tech issues.

The final topic was “new look Twitter – what are the differences?”. Coincidentally, and serendipitously, I had been exploring the new Twitter just before the session. I rarely use Twitter web, Tweetdeck being my client of choice, however I accessed Twitter web directly because of a glitch with Tweetdeck. Found myself unexpectedly in the new version and so did a quick explore. As a result I was able to share my Twitter page and do a quick tour of similarities and differences. The main plus I think for me is the inclusion of “Interactions” enabling me to see new follows and RTs easily. This was a very quick skim and I’m sure I missed things that are significant in the new version. We may take a closer look in a FineFocus session soon!


This session was quite fast paced – Serendipity sessions are often slower paced and reflective. However fast or gentle paced there is always that Serendipitous learning element. I really enjoyed this session and think that perhaps we should do more Serendipity sessions where we have short discussions about several topics – what do you think? Feedback would be very welcome – let us know if you think this would be a good idea.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. This will be an exciting session with Jo Freitag (@jofrei) who coordinates the “Gifted Resources” information service website. Jo will tell us about her blogging project “Birdwatching With Biblical Binoculars” that she has been undertaking with her Sunday School group.  Join us on Thursday February 23rd at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning February 24th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Webinar Overview – Using Layers in GIMP


Our recent Edublogs webinar recording here was a “Techie How To” in which Phil Hart (@philhart) introduced, and gave us an opportunity to explore,  some of the tools that he uses for editing layers in the GIMP image editing application to produce a variety of effects.

The Session

As is often the case with “Techie How To” sessions (because they are aimed at particular interests) this was a small group. There are advantages with small groups for this type of session as they provide much greater opportunities for interaction and participation.

After a brief introduction Phil set the scene for the tools he was going to look at and started Application Sharing to show the example image with associated layers to be used in the session.


Because the group was small Phil was able to provide plenty of opportunities for “playing” with the tools. He did this by giving control of his mouse to participants so that they could try out the effects for themselves on different layers in his image. There are (as I have said before) some limitations to this – the inevitable lag in response when the mouse is being controlled remotely being the main one. My personal feeling (based largely on the high level of positive comments from participants in previous sessions) is that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.


I really enjoyed the session because although I have used GIMP a little I have never really got to grips with layers in any image editor. Something that I took away from the session was a better awareness of how useful the facility to use layers could be for me. I know I will still use a simpler editor for the majority of my editing but I will certainly head for GIMP when I want to do something more complex.

Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues (what makes you spit with anger or thump a tub with passion) and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday July 22 nd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday July 23rd at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Edublogs/Elluminate Community Partnership room


Imagine your Image – Thoughts about Online PD (24th April)

One of my “go buttons” likely to generate a “rant” is having to wait for ever for images to open/download in websites and e-mail. This is partly because I live and work in an area that has bandwidth issues as a result of its regional location. I also work with regional and remote students some of whom are on dial up connections – this has made me even more mindful of the issues facing people with slow connections or older (slower) computers. This combined with the fact that I love to play with images and encourage students to do so gave rise to an idea for one of the Edublogs/ Elluminate Community Partnership Free Online PD sessions. An overview of the session can be found at the Edublogs Live Events Archive where  you will also find other links that might be of interest and also the link to the recording of the session.

The session was about making your images fit for purpose and I presented it jointly with Phil Hart. We both use free downloadable image editors for a lot of our image manipulation. Main reasons for this include:

  • we can carry them around on a memory stick and install them on anything without licensing issues;
  • we can recommend them to students who can then use them without incurring cost;
  • we can install them on college computers for student use without any issues;

I mainly use PhotoFiltre this is because I find it easy to use, and have also found that students (even those who are not highly “computerate”) also find it quite easy.

This session was fun! I enjoyed making sure that the introductory part was interactive because the opportunity to make online sessions interactive is one of my favourite things about Elluminate. So I included polling, drag and drop and whiteboard activities in the intital discusssion about the need for editing images particularly with respect to size. Then we moved on to more interaction using Application Share to show some of the editing features of Photofiltre and giving participants an opportunity to take control of my desktop and try out some edits for themselves. After that it was Phil Hart’s turn to take centre stage and show some ot the features of GIMP – a rather more advanced (but still free) editing application that allows the use of layers – while I took a rest (ha! ha!) and fielded the text chat. We wound up with some feedback on the session and opportunites for any questions not already dealt with in the text chat.

The text chat is another of the features that makes Elluminate a great tool – especially if two people are co-presenting because the one not actively presenting can watch and respond to this backchannel. Watch this space if you are interested in Elluminate (or virtual classrooms in general) as I often post about some of the activities and Elluminate tools I use to keep  sessions interactive for my students.