Edublogs webinar overview – Characteristics of 2E students – Part 1

Introduction

This recent recorded session was Part 1 of another of Jo Freitag’s (@jofrei) excellent sessions about aspects of working with 2E learners. For those of you as bemused by the term as I was when I first encountered it, this is “shorthand” for “Twice Exceptional” and refers to learners who have a disability/disorder and are also identified as gifted in one or more areas.

The session

Jo started with  started with  look at where we were coming from on 2E  students and a recap on the meaning of the term. She then moved on to start describing contrasting (perceived positive and negative)  characteristics of 2E students that can pose challenges to teachers. 

Jo left lots of inviting white space around her images for us to add our ideas on strategies to overcome the weaknesses either by capitalising on the strengths or in other ways. The discussion on the whiteboard, in text chat and through audio was totally engaging! We “visited” around half of the characteristics leaving the remainder for the next session.

Conclusion

A fantastic session! Time flew by and we finished with appetites well whetted for the second part next week. If you missed the first session then catch up with the recording and join us for the second exciting episode (see below for time/date).

If you have something  you would like to present a webinar on please let us know (add a comment to this post, or Tweet us – @JoHart or @philhart).  Then join us to facilitate a session about your e-edu passion! If you are not familiar with BlackboardCollaborate we can help you plan how best to do your session so it works for you. Our sessions are small and friendly – the ideal setting for your first webinar.

Our Next Session

Our next FineFocus webinar is the Second Part of this session on the Characteristics of 2E students where @jofrei will continue to keep us busy considering how we can best meet some of the needs arising from the distinguishing characteristics of 2E students. Join us on Thursday November 29th 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 November 30th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Two Edublogs webinars – Serendipity and Prezi

Introduction

Two overviews in one this week – a slight improvement on last time. (For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post).

Serendipity

In this recorded Serendipity the topic chosen was “How to ratchet up the rigor w/o killing the class”.

The topic was inspired by the continuing concerns over enforced curriculum and the heavy focus on standardised testing even for Kindy age groups.

The discussion was wide ranging and, probably because we had adult educators as well as Kindy teachers, there were parallels drawn between:

  • the “teaching to the test” scenario raising its head in Kindy as well as throughout the rest of the the school system and;
  • the similar need in adult education situations for learners to be following a designated curriculum leading to some sort of certification in order for courses to attract funding and be viable.

Also raised were issues around the high profile of educational publishers in testing and in teacher training as well as in resource provision. This giving rise to concerns about being “locked” in to publishers who might eventually dictate the entire who, what and when of teaching in some areas.

A very lively session with much discussion and sharing in text and by audio. I think we were all left with much food for thought!

Give yourself a Prezi

This recorded and very interactive session was an exploration of Prezi – the zooming presentation tool. We all learned much about Prezi as a result of the session!

I followed my usual practice of trying to get some idea of everyone’s current knowledge of the tool – we had all seen or tried it out.

In my experience peoople either seem to love Prezi or dislike it strongly and often reasons for dislike seem to centre around the zooming issue which can make people feel queasy. Certainly that was my first reaction to Prezi, and although I played with it a little a few years ago I have avoided it until very recently. The reason for trying again was to give students an engaging alternative to Powerpoint/Slideshare that they could also embed in their blogs.

We took a look at a simple Prezi I had made for students using App  Share to share this. Then we looked at a slightly longer one using Prezi’s option to present by sharing a link so that everyone else was able to see as I moved through the presentation. In retrospect I should have kept the App Share open at the same time because if you watch the recording you will hear and read in text what is going on but be unable to watch. However the top link on the page should take you to the Prezi.

Then we moved on to  had some discussion/comments about what might be unlikeable or likeable about Prezi, and why you might use it even if you don’t like it yourself. I also shared the links to a couple of Prezis made by two of my students.

We then collaborated on a Prezi. This was fun, exciting and chaotic! We started in App Share and then I shared the edit link.

Once we got started I closed the App Share, however about halfway through I realised how unhelpful this would be to those watching the recording so I re-started it. For me this sort of experience is one of the best ways to explore the strengths and weaknesses of a tool and learn about it.

This was a great session for me because I learnt lots more about Prezi as well as getting my head round the need to keep the App Share open for the benefit of people watching the recording. I have always remembered  in the past with Elluminate (a very memorable one for me being playing with G+ hangout in its early days)  but for some reason I find it more difficult to remember in BbC.

Conclusion

Two excellent sessions! I enjoyed them very much. The Serendipity was a subject very close to my heart that I am always happy to discuss. As for the second – as most of you probably know I love playing with tools online and collaboratively so I found this great fun, and learned so much from the mistakes I made as we went through! I do hope that I didn’t bore everyone else by being slow and getting things wrong.

I really enjoy sessions where someone else is the main facilitator. If you have something to share please let us know (add a comment to this post, or Tweet us – @JoHart or @philhart) and then join us to facilitate a session about your e-edu passion! If you are not familiar with BlackboardCollaborate we can help you plan how best to do your session so it works for you.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session where we invite you to suggest your “hot” topics for discussion – we then select the topic by poll.  Join us on Thursday September 27th 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 September 28th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs Serendipity webinar – miscellany

Introduction

This was a Serendipity session where we didn’t vote on a topic! As has been the case often recently we were a very small group. The session was recorded and discussion centred around three areas:

  • How can we encourage more people to attend/should we continue the webinars at all?
  • Possible topics and speakers for future webinars
  • Help/ideas for getting the balance of words and slides right in Pecha Kucha

The webinars

Our attendance has always been very variable, but from late 2008 when the webinars began until mid 2011 attendance was almost always well into double figures. However during the last year this has reduced. I think this may be due to a number of factors:

  • There are now so many free webinars each week that people cannot attend all they would like to.
  • A tendency for people to “catch the recording” instead of joining in. The highly interactive nature of our webinars means that fewer participants leads to a reduced range of ideas and opinions. Also if no-one joins then eventually there will be no webinar to record!
  • The many other e-PD opportunities such as #tag chats on Twitter of which there are now hundreds.
  • Not enough publicity, forward planning of FineFocus sessions, variety of topics and variety of presenters. My fault! Work pressure has been intense for the last year. I am hopeless at asking people to present for us – I just feel totally that I am imposing on them and also worry that attendance will be low and they will feel it isn’t worth doing.
  • Timing of webinars – our early participants were mainly from the USA/Canada where it is afternoon/evening and this is often a good time for people to join. However with the huge increase in available e-PD including webinars that originate in the USA our overseas participation has reduced. We now have more Australians attending, however the early/mid-morning time is not good for many.

We discussed the above issues and also @jofrei shared her blogpost on promoting the webinars with a great mindmap of ideas. This was an outcome from a previous similar discussion last year.

We also talked a little about possible topics and presenters. Topics are usually relatively easy as it is always possible to have a discussion session about a currently “hot” e-topic or to mutually explore tools for a specific purpose. However for me finding possible presenters is a real issue. As I said earlier I am just no good at asking people – I always feel so much that I am imposing on them. Also I lack the time to find and ask possible presenters – not helped by the fact that because of work pressures I have been less active in my PLN over the past year and so I have a lower profile than previously.

If you have thoughts or ideas about:

  • whether we continue the webinars
  • how to publicise better
  • topic suggestions
  • presenter suggestions (yourself or someone you know)
  • whether we change the format (from the alternate Serendipty/FineFocus) to something else
  • whether we reduce the frequency to one per fortnight or one per month

Please comment on this post or tweet me (@JoHart)

Pecha Kucha – getting the timing right!

In this part of the session we took a look at the Pecha Kucha that @jofrei is developing about “The Tweet Family” her story of the gifted Tweetlets.

One of the main challenges is being that of timing. and so we discussed the issue of timing. For me the rigidity of the 20 seconds per slide is also likely to be my main problem with developing a Pecha Kucha. We talked about some possible strategies to overcome the difficulty of some slides needing only a few seconds of talk and others needing much more than 20 seconds.

There will be more on Pecha Kucha in our next session – “Sharing Pecha Kucha” as we will share our attempts at Pecha Kucha and discuss the challenges we found as well as the content of our presentations.

Conclusion

An interesting session! The issue of continuing the webinars or not has been on my mind for a while. Also the related concerns about the need to find topics and presenters and publicise them better. So it was good to discuss this with others. Since Pecha Kucha came up as a topic in a recent Serendipity it has interested and intrigued me and others. I am unsure that it will ever be my strategy of choice but feel it is good to try it out and our next session gives us that opportunity to “play”

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session where we will be “Sharing Pecha Kucha”. In this session some of us who took part in a Serendipity where Pecha Kucha was a topic will share our “homework” and talk about the challenges. If you have a Pecha Kucha you would like to share let me know – a comment on this post or Twitter: @JoHart and bring it along.  Join us on Thursday June 28th 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 June 29th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – a lucky dip!

Introduction

This was one of those sessions where we talked about several topics. As always the session was recorded and makes interesting listening. The consesus was to spend some time on each of several topics, these being: the vocational education system; online maths programs & making maths easy; and a quick chat about some iPad apps.

The Session

We used a whiteboard for each topic for a heading to help us maintain topic focus, but also to be available for ideas and sharing as needed. It was interesting that each of the topics was addressed differently in terms of the way we used BbC. This demonstrates well the capability of the platform as a learning space. The first topic (TAFE) was almost entirely discussed via audio and text chat. The second (online maths & making maths easy) made heavy use of the whiteboard for ideas and link sharing. Our third topic of iPad apps also used the whiteboard but to a much lesser extent mainly for sharing app names.

We were a small group – all Australian which  gave rise to one of the topics. Our public Vocational Education and Training system is currently the centre of much debate regarding funding. It is under pressure to compete for students with private trainers who do not have the same government imposed constraints – hence the heading of TAFE (Training and Further Education). I know I had far too much to say about this because it is my own sector and I care about it intensely! There were many comparisons to be drawn with other sectors and globally.

The maths topic – as is always the case with maths generated much activity. We had a whiteboard in two columns – for sharing links and ideas for making maths interesting. However so many links were shared that the second column was largely taken over by the first! If you access the recording and use the bottom scroll bar in it to scroll to about 3/4 of the way through you can access most of those links live from the whiteboard. These lead to a positive “treasure chest” of online maths!

Our final topic was a quick look, with short descriptions, at some of the apps that those of us with iPads have and find useful.

Conclusion

This was fun! As always (for me anyway) the great thing about our Serendipity sessions is that we never know where they will lead. Sessions where we range accross several topics are particularly interesting because of the diversity of information shared and views expressed.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session.   Join us on Thursday May 31st 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 June 1st in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Edublogs webinar overview – a look at some avatar makers

Introduction

As always we recorded this session in which we took a look at some avatar making tools in one of our “quick and easy tools” explorations. These are occasional sessions where I put up a list of 5-10 tools and each participant chooses one (preferably one unknown to them) to explore for ten minutes and then give feedback to the rest of us. The first time I did this the tools were a mixture of different functions however more recently I have chosen ones with similar purposes.

My personal rationale for “ten minutes to explore” is that if it takes too long to “pick up” the basics of using any tool then the focus of the “lesson” in which it is being used may change from the educational purpose to the tech being used. In other words we risk using “tech for tech’s sake” rather than as a tool to achieve the educational purpose.

The Session

The tools explored in the session were:

We started with a have you used it and to what degree on the five tools to be explored. This revealed that most of us had some awareness of, or familiarity with at least one or two of them and a couple were reasonably familar with all.

The next step was for everyone to choose an avatar maker to explore and then explore for ten minutes with the following considerations in mind:

  • how easy to learn the basics
  • how engaging to use
  • a lesson/context in which to use it
  • whether they personally would use it with students

After the ten minutes everyone came back, added their avatars to the whiteboard and talked about the ease of use and other features of the tool they had explored. We did have someone drop out and be unable to rejoin when trying to add their avatar – the avatar is still in the composite image.

Throughout the whole session there were lots of links shared in text chat and on the whiteboards: to avatar making sites, to sites which list avatar creators and to sites which illustrate many creative ways of using them. After the session Jerry Blumengarten (@cybraryman1) added a “My Avatars page” to his already amazing collection of pages of useful education related links.

We finished with some feedback and a look at our best takeaways from the session.

Conclusion

This was great fun! Everyone always seems to enjoy sessions like this. Those of you familiar with the webinars will know I have something of an obsession with making them as interactive and “hands on” as possible and from that perspective these tool explorations work really well. Avatars have been on my mind a lot at the moment as I have been looking for an easy to use creator that my not necessarily very techie distance students can use. I would love to give them a list and let them choose but needed to fix on one so that I could do a stepwise process as in this slideshare for them to refer to. The challenge with wholly online students is very much that the lecturer (teacher) is not there standing behind and able to coach them through the steps. I do do this individually with Application Share in BbC/Elluminate however my students are often working asynchronously so we are not in virtual class at the time they have the problem!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday March 29th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday March 30th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – Birdwatching with biblical binoculars

Introduction

In this excellent recorded session we learned about “Birdwatching with biblical binoculars” (@jofrei) – Jo Freitag of the Gifted Resources information service told us the story of her exciting blogging project carried out with a group of Church School attendees during 2011.

The Session

Jo started with some background on how she had come to do the project – using the subscription to EdublogsPro that she won at the Reform Symposium in 2011. She then introduced the blog that she used.

Jo moved on to tell us about the wide range of activities that the group undertook and how the “biblical binoculars were used to find biblical references to birds that illustrated the topic under study. There was some exciting “just-in-time” learning and sharing by members of the group using their mobile phones to find and access references.

The range of tools that Jo used with her group was wide – some of which are shown below.

Many links were shared via whiteboard and text both by Jo and by other participants. Some of them we visited during the session and others were saved for later :). It is very well worth catching the recording for this session both for Jo’s great presentation and for the interactivity and links that she shared.

Conclusion

An exciting sesssion! Jo’s use of such a wide range of tools and activities was awe inspiring and led to a very high degree of engagement from her group. I found this particularly helpful given my own context at the moment of preparing for a project which hopes to better engage my online literacy students through adding media to blogposts and thus generating a simple e-portfolio.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday March 1stat 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday March 2nd at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – What poll was that?

Introduction

In this recorded session we took a look at if, and how, we use/have used e-polling or surveys. The idea for this session was triggered when I used a poll in the overview for last week’s Serendipity and wondered about the different polling and survey tools that people use.

The Session

We started with a look at whether we had used polling/surveys either as a respondent or as an information gatherer. Then moved on to the platforms on which we have used them, finding that most of us had used polling/surveys on one or more of: Twitter, Facebook, blogs, mobile devices and of course “Other” including Learning Management Systems, Elluminate/BlackboardCollaborate and email!

Then came the most interesting part of the session where we started to look at tools we have used and/or that we know about. We began this by using a whiteboard to name those tools we have used as information gatherer, and as respondent and also those we have heard about.

Next came the best bit where members of the group shared an experience of using a poll/survey tool, We had brief looks at GoogleForms (including a quick play), Facebook, Flubaroo and PollDaddy before running out of time and moving on to our best takeaways from the session. This session flew by and we reached the end far too soon!

Conclusion

This was so interesting – I love to know what tools others are using and to hear about the contexts and purposes. I had a major takeaway in that although I was aware of GoogleForms in a vague way and had responded to polls via that tool I didn’t realise how many different question types there were. Neither had I really taken in the fact that a spreadsheet is automatically created for the answers thus making subsequent data analysis very easy.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday January 19that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday January 20th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs webinar overview – End-of-year party 2011

Introduction

Well it’s that time of year again and this recorded, session is of the fourth “End-of-year/Christmas” party that we have held online as part of the webinar series!

Will we still be here next year?

Each year when we do this I wonder if the webinars will still be happening for the following “end-of-year”. Perhaps it is time to change the way we do this? When we started webinars were rare and indeed we didn’t even call them webinars at the start! People still come to Serendipity and Fine Focus but there are fewer than in the early days. I feel/hope this is because there are now so many free webinars available and not because we have become boring! These webinars have always been relatively informal with an emphasis on participation, sharing and interactivity. They have been the “first” interactive webinar experience for many, and also for many the first opportunity to present in a webinar. For the moment we are still here – at least for the start of – next year, but whether this was our last “End-of-year” party only time will tell.

The Session

For these “party sessions we encourage people to bring along “virtual” food – an image of food they particularly like – and share this on the “table”.

This year we had a whiteboard to share whether we have a holiday at this time of year, and if we do then what is it called and how do we celebrate it.

The main part of the session is focussed around playing online, interactive, party games. The purpose is not entirely frivolous as they can often be adapted to use in student learning. Interactive games in BbC also serve to illustrate the potential for active participation/ engagement that is so often not used to its full extent in virtual rooms.

We had four games to play. The first one (from @jofrei) pushed the boundaries a bit as her “Guess the Gift” was an App Share of a running Powerpoint – not for the fainthearted or low bandwidth! Our second game was from @philhart and invited us to “rewrite” parts of “The 12 Days of Christmas” from an e-ducator perspective – this generated some interesting ideas! The third game was a “CrissCross” puzzle with a combination of Christmas and Web2.0 clues – this was one I generated using the Discovery Education website CrissCross grid creator – this and their other puzzle generators are a great resource. The fourth game was from @tracywatanabe who got us playing “Find the Fib” – each of us putting up four statements about ourselves 3 truthful and one lie. The others then guess the lie. This has huge potential for use with students where you could ask for 3 true and one false piece of subject knowledge.

Conclusion

These “party” sessions are always fun! The sharing of games always gives me more ideas for ways of keeping things interactive for my students. Now it is time to publish the last webinar overview of 2011. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who read this and/or have taken part in the webinars – we hope to see you next year 🙂

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday January 5th 2012 at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday January 6th 2012 at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – End of year activities!

Stop Press – last two days of voting #eddies!

We have been shortlisted for the Edublogs awards Thank you so much if you nominated us. And thank you also if you are voting for us.

ONLY TWO DAYS TO GO – deadline 11:59pm US EST Tuesday 13th December. That’s the early hours of Wednesday morning in Europe and late morning/early afternoon Wednesday here in Australia  if you would like to vote for us (Serendipity/FineFocus Webinars in Edublogs award)s click HERE to go to the site, see nominations and cast your vote.

Online End of Year/Christmas Party

We invite you to our End of Year/Christmas Party on 15th/16th December – come along with virtual “goodies” for the festive table, and if you feel inventive bring a game to share and play. Take a look at the overviews for our parties in 2009 and 2010 to see the sorts of things we do. After the party the webinars will be taking a two week break returning on 5th/6th January with the first Serendipity session of 2012!

Introduction

Apologies for the delay in posting – despite starting leave at the end of Friday I have been finishing off a variety of work “loose ends” over the weekend. My holiday begins appropriately with this post. We had a fun session – very Serendipitous and, as always, recorded (though I was a bit late starting the recording – I don’t seem to get a recording reminder in BbC11 as I did in Elluminate10) so you can catch up on what we did it if you missed it!

The Session

We started as usual by putting our topic ideas on the whiteboard and then polling to choose the topic for consideration. The winner was “End of year activities”.

Once the topic was chosen we used a whiteboard to collect some of our ideas and thoughts on this including some links. As usual ideas were also shared via text chat and audio. There were many ideas with Christmas themes around the 12 days of Christmas and collaborative activities such as drawing a snowman. This prompted the sharing of the “Drawastickman” link by Carole (@Coach_Carole).

Never one to pass up an opportunity for playing I opened the link and App Shared it so that we could play out the story collaboratively by taking control of my desktop and taking turns to complete a stage in the story. This was great fun – working via someone else’s desktop is a huge challenge because of the inevitable lag time. Drawing is particularly hard because of this lag and everyone did a great job as we finished the story.

Drawastickman is a nice toy to play with and would be even better if there were a variety of scenarios/themes leading to different stories!

Conclusion

This session definitely put me into a holiday mood! Now I have to come up with a good online game for the party next week.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session, in which we let our hair down for the “End of Year/Christmas Party” Bring “goodies for the festive table and if you feel inventive an online party game and join us on Thursday December 15th 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 December 16thd in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room. Remember we have a two week break after the party and will return on 5th/6th January with the first Serendipity session of the year