Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – Presentation


If you access the link to the recording it would be great if you would just leave a short comment on this post to let me know. I would really like to know if it is useful to people when I post the overviews & recording links


For this recorded session the topic chosen was from the Wallwisher and was on best presentation practice, however as we were a small number we diverged from this and discussed and shared examples of  the options we use ourselves.

The Session

We started the session by sharing (on the whiteboard) some of the ways that we present our information to others. With a small group these were inevitably limited in number, as I think most people have preferred tools and styles of presentation and will usually use those if practicable.


We moved on to discussing and sharing (through application share) some of our own personal examples of how we present information eg interactive PowerPoint, webpages with embedded links and customised Elluminate whiteboards developed on a PowerPoint base.


This session was great for gaining insights and ideas from how others present information. My takeways include a need to learn how to make the internal interactives work in Powerpoint and also to take a closer look at using a web page as the thread to link a series of information presentations.

Our Next Session

FineFocusSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. This week’s session  “Blog or Wiki? Pros and Cons” will be an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of blogs and wikis as tools for different learning situations. Do you know the difference? Do you want to use either or both? Do you currently use either or both? Come along – share how and why & discover how others use them. Join us on Thursday Feb 10th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (6pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday Feb 11th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room

In the Future

If you are a regular visitor to our webinars you will know that we alternate “Fine Focus” sessions on specific topics with “Serendipity” the unconference sessions where we choose a topic by poll at the start of the session. Sometimes the very fact of being asked for “hot topics” or other ideas for discussion or learning tends to make our minds blank. This has prompted me to start a Serendipity Wallwisher for topic suggestions. Please visit the wall and add your ideas for Serendipity topics so that we have more choices to consider. Some of these ideas might also form the basis for future “Fine Focus” sessions.

Serendipity Webinar Overview – Maths anxiety and other matters!


This week’s overview is a strange experience for me! I wasn’t there in the session (I was laid low by a migraine) but am still writing an overview. I can do this thanks, of course, to the recording, technology is a wonderful thing!

The Session

It was one of those Serendipity sessions that happen occasionally where we don’t have many participants and so it is much more of a chat than a formal session. For me one of the strangest and most frustrating aspects of only being a spectator after the event was that I so much wanted to join the conversation!

The discussion was mainly around issues of anxiety in teaching and learning maths with digressions into wider considerations of teaching and the need for teachers to be learners as well as teachers and to work across learning disciplines. Again the discussion turned as so often to motivating and empowering colleagues as well as students. The question of teacher burnout and the balance between the risk of stalenes/boredom and being overwhelmed by the workload was also raised.


For me as a listener after the event this was a very thought provoking discussion and one where I was longing to take part. Because this was so much a “conversation” the discussion was almost entirely through audio with some text chat and for me it was a session well worth listening to.

Next Week

TechieSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus!” session a “Techie How To” on getting the most out of Elluminate Webinars from the participant’s point of view in “Be an ‘Elluminated’ participant“. If you would like to know more about the tools and options available to you when you attend an Elluminate session, or about how you as a participant can help the session flow more smoothly then this session is for you!

Join us on Thursday June 3rd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday June 4th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Serendipity Webinar – convert resources for e-learning

A very lively recorded Serendipity session this week in the Edublogs/Elluminate Community Partnership room. The topic chosen was “helping people to convert materials for e-learning”. As usual in these sessions the discussion was wide ranging not just narrowly focused on the precise wording but including many stories from participants of e-strategies that they use and that provide terrific examples to help those needing to convert materials for e-learning. The microphone, text chat and whiteboard were all humming with activity giving us many ideas to consider.


Comments throughout and at the end suggested that much serendipitous learning had indeed occurred this week, and that we had lived up to our name. I think that the sessions always provide learning, food for thought and are engaging but it’s very exciting when we get a “Wow!” session such as this one. In my opinion these happen mostly when the topic chosen is broad, and links very strongly with the passions of participants.

ToolsStrategiesSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Tools and Strategies” where guest presenter Tomaz Lasic (teacher, coach & mentor) will present “Teaching with Moodle”. Currently at Moodle HQ where he is an interface between educators and Moodle developers. Tomaz has many Moodle stories to tell – today he will give us an overview and then throw the session open to questions (not-tech) about using Moodle “on the ground” Join us on Thursday March 25th at 23:00 GMT (7pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 26th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room.


White(board) Magic! – Webinar

This week’s Edublogs Webinar (recording here ) was one of our occasional sessions focussing on a tool, or feature of using Elluminate. I tend to feel that I’m a bit too “close” to these particular sessions to give a very objective overview, however I will do my best!


I am always very conscious with Elluminate that many people use it just as a “lecture” platform. There is a tendency to just put a Powerpoint on the whiteboard and “talk to it” (sometimes literally it seems to me!). I am also very aware of my own tendency to “glaze over” or switch my attention to something else in a face-to-face context if it is just reading from slides or even using them properly as “hooks” for talking about. How much harder is it to continue paying attention in a virtual context where there is no body langage or visual stimulus from the presenter or other participants. So, now and again I get on my own particular hobby horse about some of the many ways you can use Elluminate in an interactive way with participants. This session highlighted some of the ways the variety of whiteboard options can be used to keep participant interest and also be aware of who is participating and who is (possibly) not paying much attention! We had participants with varying levels of both Elluminate generally and whiteboard experience. Trying not to overface those new to Elluminate while providing a challenge to the more experienced is always a bit of a balancing act.

Where were we coming from?

I used some polling to ask about the experience of the group in relation to maintaining their own attention during both face-to-face and virtual sessions, most people had experienced the “switching off” tendency in both situations. Almost all admitted to having been in a virtual session where only the “off topic” content of the backchannel kept them awake. As we would probably all expect the way the sessions were managed had a distinct impact on the tendency to doze off!


Some of the tools

The main part of the session gave everyone the opportunity to be moderators. This is fun but always chaotic! Before giving  moderator status to everyone I gave an overview of some of the whiteboard tools available to moderators. Moderators have access to tools that participants can not normally use. These can be found on the Whiteboard tool set next to the whiteboard with others available through the “Tools, Whiteboard” menu. Some of are very useful when working with whiteboard interactives. For example the ability to move objects in and out of the background – an object moved into the background cannot be moved or edited. This is great if you need to create an instant drag and drop to illustrate/extend a point, or assess understanding in a session. Other whiteboard tools available to moderators are great for organising whiteboard contributions. For instance you can group, align or distribute objects in a similar way to in Powerpoint and also copy and paste objects between screens. Yet other tools enable you to see who is contributing (Explore Objects) and to monitor activity on breakout room whiteboards -Explore Screens and then select the screen.

Let’s go feral!

Once everyone had moderator status we quickly reached the anarchy stage. I love this because I find that everyone starts playing with new tools they have available so we jump around the whiteboards and all sorts of things happen. However we re-established some sort of tenuous order and moved on. I had previously created several breakout rooms each with a preloaded activity on the whiteboard. The next step was for the group to distribute themselves to breakout rooms in pairs/small groups and try out the activities. We had a few problems at this stage – the combination of breakout rooms and everyone being moderators put quite a heavy load on Elluminate and also on my own computer. So from my perspective there were some frustrating moments when I was struggling to move between breakout rooms to check out progress. This also led to some problems for participants because the slow response meant that I inadvertently moved people between rooms a couple of times. Being teleported like that can be very disconcerting! However all was sorted at the end and everyone brought their activities back to the main room.

How did it go?

Despite the somewhat flakey nature of the activities everyone seemed to enjoy the session and the opportunity to play with the whiteboard in ways other than just brainstorming. There were several requests in feedback for more opportunities to play with Elluminate tools/features. As always after these sessions I have mixed feelings – I love doing this sort of thing and people always seem to get something out of them. However I just don’t feel that I do them well enough and I do sometimes push the technology too far! Then again we all learn from what goes wrong when I am too ambitious :).

Next week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us on Thursday March 18th at 23:00 GMT (7pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 19th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Serendipity – Two topics!

Sorry for the delay in posting this everyone. I intended to finish it early Sunday morning but woke with a migraine, so lost the day until now.

Once again we had a dead heat for topics in our recent Serendipity unconference webinar. Those chosen were “Peer Support” arising out of discussion in previous webinars and “Education Reform” triggered by the mass firing of teachers in a US school and the reactions to this by prominent politicians. As always when we have two topics minds are focussed and we cover a lot of ground in a short time. For a better sense of the discussion checkout the recording.

Just a reminder for those of you new to our sessions that although we use the words: education,  teacher and also school very often – this is generic and used for convenience. Our discussions are of education, teaching and learning institutions in the broadest sense and we have participants from across all sectors and also globally.

We started with Peer Support which generated a lively discussion starting with a variety of ideas about what constituted peer support. The consensus was that it covers a range of different interactions. In my own personal opinion it is an overarching term that includes peer mentoring and peer tutoring as well as teamwork activities. Several of us shared occasions when peer support had occurred either in a planned way or spontaneously in our classes. There was a feeling that this might be a topic to explore more fully in a focussed session perhaps by inviting several people to share strategies that had worked in their context.

The discussion on Education Reform was triggered by recent events in the US where all the teachers in a school were fired, this was stated to be because of poor student outcomes – thanks to Shelly Terrell for the link to this article and several other related ones that she provided in the text chat.

Again this topic was one that gave rise to enthusiastic discussion and revealed something approaching despair about what is happening to education systems worldwide and the impact on teachers.


The apparent continually increasing culture of blame with teachers on the receiving end is something which has a hugely negative effect on motivation and enthusiasm. Teachers who enter the education systems of the world generally do so with a passion for their work but you only have to look at the numbers of teachers who seem to be leaving education worldwide to see that disillusion is setting in on a large scale. As with the first topic this is one that seems to call for a more focussed session or even a series of sessions. It is certainly a perennial subject when teachers get together, and one which always seems to conclude that the only solution is to keep “chipping away”. However – from my very personal perspective it seems to be getting worse with teachers becoming more and more political and sociological scapegoats for the ills of society.

FineFocusSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus!” session a mix of  “Techie How To” and “Tools and Strategies” where we will “play” with Elluminate whiteboards from the Moderator’s perspective in “White(board) Magic!”

Join us on Thursday March 11th at 23:00 GMT (6pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday March 12th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room.


Edublogs Webinar – Teach to the Test?

Wow! This was a session with a buzz! The Teaching to the test vs teaching to the learner’s needs debate is one of those perennial topics that always gives rise to a terrific discussion. Made even better by @philhart’s excellent facilitation, you should definitely catch the recording!

I don’t think Phil will mind me saying that he was a bit nervous. We have co-facilitated lots of times but usually with myself as lead doing most of the talking or in “Techie How To!” sessions where we took a section each. This was the first time that Phil had initiated and facilitated a discussion session, and in my possibly biased opinion he did a great job!

Phil has already posted about his feelings on the session  so it falls to me to give a bit of an overview.  The session included several polls and lots of whiteboard brainstorming, this combined with the strong contributions through text chat and audio made for a highly interactive session.  Whiteboards with stimulus questions were quickly filled with thoughts and ideas with the pace maintained by using the timer. This is not really the place to put up all those whiteboards but to whet your appetite for the recording I have made a Wordle  for one of them.  The question was looking for personal reasons for teaching to learners’needs.


Feedback at the end was very positive and everyone seemed to enjoy the session immensely.

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session so bring along your hot topics and burning issues and throw them into the melting pot for the poll to choose our topic in the first ten minutes.

Join us here in Elluminate on Thursday February 18th at 23:00 GMT (6pm USA EST, Midnight CET) or Friday February 19th at 7am West Aus, 10am NSW, depending on your timezone.


Installing Java to use Elluminate – Dialup

If you (or any of your students/participants) have a dialup connection then installing the Java so that you are able to use Elluminate can be a slow process – taking 1-2 hours or even more if you are unlucky.

On a slow connection for the installation one of the issues that can occur is a brief temporary loss of the internet connection. If this happens and you have chosen the online installation option then you may find that the Java download and installation fails. When this happens and the Java Web Start Installer hits an error when attempting to install, it stops the installation and shows an error message. This message will give an indication of why the download has stalled. The most common messages include:

  • Insufficient permissions to install software
  • Insufficient disk space to install software
  • The computer does not meet the minimum system requirements
  • The computer is not currently connected to the Internet

Elluminate recommends that you always use the offline installer. When you reach the Sun website to download your Java for Elluminate make sure that you select the offline installation option and follow the instructions carefully. You can access the latest version of Java here. Remember be sure to select the offline option.

Choosing the offline installation enables the Java download to restart from the point it had reached when the connection was interrupted. Once the download is complete you then install from the local version on your computer. With the online installation the process simply stalls at whatever point it has reached and has to be re-started. If you are on dialup and have a slightly “noisy” telephone line you may never succeed in a complete install if you use the online option.

Good luck with Elluminate!