Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – Using Elluminate as presenter


This session was exciting! For me it also felt very strange as I had to leave half-way through so Phil (@philhart) was the main facilitator from the start, and I caught up with the second half of the session from the recording which is well worth a watch and listen. The reason for needing to leave early was an interview at work for a advanced standing as a lecturer – what is known in Western Australia as  “Advanced Skills Lecturer”. For those of you who were in the session when I mentioned this – I was successful!

The Session

We had several people who are due to present at “The Reform Symposium (#RSCON3)” who were keen to learn more about using Elluminate from the presenter’s perspective so this was the chosen topic at polling time.

We started with a whiteboard for people to add anything specific they wanted to know about and this informed the entire session. We made everyone moderators so that they could easily access the extra tools they will see as presenters. The session was terrific with masses of interaction, discussion and sharing – truly Serendipitous with everyone sharing their own Elluminate knowledge and with instant learning going on through experimentation. Takeaways were very positive.

TakeawaysResizeIn answer to a couple of the questions raised that were not fully clarified due to lack of time.

1. It is possible to use a YouTube video – there are at least three possible ways: a) WebTour which will just take everyone to the link via their own browser (usually but not always starts immediately); b) do it by putting the link into the multimedia library (in my experience this doesn’t always work); c) put the link on whiteboard or in chat for people to access (it is good practice to make the link available in chat/whiteboard anyway.

2. Using Prezi – not ideal it can be application shared but app share is not generally very good with anything that frequently updates or is “swoopy” and also not good for anyone with a slow connection.

3. Links can be shared on whiteboard or in chat. On the whiteboard you need to use the “A” tool the text edit one is not consistently clickable. Also the link needs to be “on top” ie if you circle it then it won’t be clickable


This was a fantastic session and Phil did a great job especially as he was “thrown in the deep end” with respect to the chosen topic. He is a very experienced and brilliant Elluminate facilitator but a little less familiar with all the tools and capabilities than myself.  If you are about to, or might in the future be presenting/facilitating and Elluminate session then this is definitely one to catch!

Our Next Session

FineFocusSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. Again this week (by request) we will be taking a further look at using Elluminate from the presenter’s pont of view in ” Oh and can I also do this virtually?”  Join us on Thursday July 14th 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 in Australia – in the usual Elluminate room

Edublogs webinar overview – “Can I really do that virtually?”


This session was really exciting! With “The Reform Symposium (#RSCON3)” coming up in a few weeks we were joined by several of the presenters looking to increase their Elluminate experience before the conference. The session was one of our semi-regular ones that focus on using Elluminate and on this occasion we took a “roller coaster ride” through some of the tools and features from the moderator perspective.

The Session

This was a fast moving, highly interactive and participative session. The overview can really only give a taste of events!  Catch the recording for the full flavour of this lively session.

This was very much a participant led session in terms of direction. I had “How to” slides and examples available for a wide variety of Elluminate tools and strategies in case they were needed. We started with a whiteboard for people to indicate what they wanted from the session. This and the questions throughout the session determined what slides were used and what we did!

Initially we took a quick look at setting up your screen to suit you, the importance of doing an audio check especially if you are going to be presenting or speaking at all, and at the most used of all the Elluminate features – the whiteboard.

The next part of the session was to make everyone moderators so that they could see all the moderator tools. After this the questions and activities came thick and fast. During the rest of the session we briefly explored (giving opportunities to “play” where feasible) many of the features of Elluminate that make it such a great webinar platform. Time just flew by so that we over-ran our usual end time.


We finished with some quick feedback polls which were entirely positive about the sessions and finally as usual a whiteboard for our best “takeaways” from the session.


This was a fantastic session! I really love these sorts of sessions where I am having to “think on my feet” to try and keep up with the pace of the action, answer everyone’s questions and step through tools on request. As always this was a terrific learning experience for me – I have my own “takeaway” which I didn’t put on the board at the end because I was answering questions. This is an improved understanding of how the whiteboard works with live links – for which many thanks to Rodney (@techyturner)!

Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday July 7th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday July 8th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual Elluminate 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 of the day.

Overview Edublogs webinar – Face to Facebook!


In this Edublogs Fine Focus session (recording here) Jane Curry (@parrpakala on Twitter) introduced us to the way she is using Facebook to enhance and improve the learning experience for “English as a Second Language” learners. This was an exciting session not only because of the way that Jane is incorporating Facebook but because she also included some of her students in the session. Jane teaches English as a second language at Swinburne TAFE (public vocational education) in Melbourne,  Victoria, Australia. Jane’s students are migrants/refugees. Migrants to Australia have an entitlement to some  English language classes when they arrive. The programme usually used is the Certificates in Spoken and Written English (CSWE). This is multi level and outcomes based, students need to demonstrate that they can read, speak and write to the relevant level. So any opportunity to practise reading, writing or other forms of communication in different ways is very welcome.

The Session
Jane started the session by telling us a little about her students and their backgrounds. Facebook is a relatively recent introduction, the students also participate in a class blog. Jane talked about her reasons for using Facebook and also some of the advantages in that it allowed easy communication between the students, volunteer mentors and lecturers. It was also easy for two organisations, CMY and Foundation House that provide support for the students, to join in through Facebook. Jane shared her desktop to show us the group’s Facebook page …


and also demonstrated how she uses live chat with her students. There were a variety of questions and ideas raised in text chat around the practicalities of using Facebook particularly with second language learners and privacy issues relating to its use. Jane responded to these during the session. The highlight was when two of Jane’s students bravely joined her at the microphone and answered some questions from us about: where they were from; what they though about using Facebook; and whether they had Facebook friends elsewhere.


This session was very exciting as it is the first time we have had students taking part in this way and I think that both Jane and her students were very brave to be prepared to do this. Jane did a great job, she has not had the opportunity to join many sessions as her class coincides with webinar times and this was her very first session as a moderator. As always this overview gives only a taste of the session. For the full “flavour” catch the recording.

Next Week

SerendipitybsmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session, 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 of the day. If you want to propose a topic in advance then visit the Serendipity Wallwisher and add your topic. Then join us on Thursday Nov 11th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (6pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday Nov 12th at 1am CEST, 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.

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


Webinar Overview – Imagine Your Image

Our most recent recorded webinar was a “Techie How To” in which we looked at some of the tools in a simple free image editor – PhotoFiltre. I use PhotoFiltre a lot because I rarely need the more sophisticated features such as layers. This was one of those sessions where I did the presentation as well as facilitating. I always find it more difficult to write an overview for these as I feel too close to the content to be as objective as I should be. I always welcome comments on any of these webinar overviews but particularly so when I have presented the content and thus am not sure about my own objectivity!

The Session

I very much enjoyed doing this session – as I was able to show one of my favourite “e-toys” (PhotoFiltre) through the medium of another (Elluminate). We began by finding out where we were all coming from on image file formats and editing, followed by some quick thoughts on why we and our students might want to edit images.


Size changing and cropping (used most by my students, my colleagues and myself) were both suggested several times. We then moved on to consider briefly the features of a basic image editing application that we would consider most important for ourselves and for our students. Easy to learn and free topped the polls.

Next we took a quick look at the accessibility and functions of some of the most frequently used tools (all on drop-down menus). Size is one of the most significant items that we all often need to change to suit different contexts so we looked briefly at some common sizes we might use and also at the impact of when we make the change on file sizes and consequent download times. Other tools briefly reviewed included cropping, adjusting colour balance, brightness/contrast and filter effects.

Then it was time to play! I shared PhotoFiltre from my desktop and invited participants to try out some of the tools on some pre-loaded images by taking control of my desktop. Using application share in this way has some limitations – for example there is an inevitable lag in response when the mouse is being controlled remotely. However I feel that it has great benefits from the interactivity point of view and is more effective than simply using the sharing to demonstrate. I would love some feedback on this! We finished the session as usual with questions and feedback.


My personal liking for PhotoFiltre is because it is easy to use and free to download and is thus a good option for my students who are literacy/numeracy students working online. They often have both limited access to computers and limited IT skills. I have also suggested it to many of my colleagues as they rarely need sophisticated editing capacity such as layers and they also find it very useful for basic cropping and size changing especially of images they intend to upload into the Learning Management System. If you do need features such as layers then you could take a look at GIMP also free.

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 8th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday July 9th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Serendipity webinar overview – Web 3.0 where to now?


This was one of those small but very active sessions (recording here) where the blend of text, whiteboards and audio was almost seamless with all three being used in the conversation. The best way to checkout this session is to catch the recording.

The session

We started with some discussion on what we understood by the term Web 3.0. This included references to:

  • semantic tagging;
  • small, fast, customisable, virally distributed applications
  • contextual, tailored, predictive searching
  • deductive reasoning “intelligence”

The discussion moved on with most of the focus being on the issues around the tagging, searching and “intelligence” aspects. Particular concerns were expressed about the impacts and influences of this type of search on independence of mind and thought.



This session was very thought provoking and more thoughts and implications are still striking me some days after the session. I suspect this is very much a theme for further exploration in a Fine Focus discussion in the not too distant future.

Next Week

TechieSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus!” session a “Techie How To” – “Introducing  Scratch” from guest presenter Carl Bogardus (@weemooseus). Carl will give us an introduction to using Scratch. An easy to use programming language that you and your students can use to create and share your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art.

Join us on Thursday June 17th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday June 18th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


Webinar Overview – Be an “Elluminated” participant


Our recorded Edublogs webinar this week provided me with an excuse to play with Elluminate. Occasionally I do a session on some aspect of Elluminate – usually as a result of comments and questions raised in response to using a particular tool in other sessions. This time having had quite a large number of people new to Elluminate joining our webinars in recent weeks it felt like time to take a look at getting the most out of being a participant.

The Session

The plan for the session was to explore a variety of tools and options available to participants in Elluminate sessions. Thus providing some ideas and suggestions to help everyone get the most out of participating in interactive webinars.

The objectives were to look briefly at:

  • establishing an  “identity” in the virtual context
  • arranging the virtual environment to facilitate keeping up with events and capturing/saving content and ideas
  • active participation

Elluminated ParticipantsResize

As always the emphasis was on interaction and activities throughout using polling, whiteboard, text and experimenting with tools and options. Also as usual I tried to fit too much into the time and ended up feeling that I was rushing but the participants seemed nonetheless to find the session useful.


This was, hopefully, an interesting session that seemed to be enjoyed by all. As with most of these sessions this overview is no more than a fleeting glimpse and you will get much more from the recording.

Next week

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 June 10th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday June 11th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room


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


Two Webinar Overviews


Our missing recording has been found and is now available – Thank you to the Elluminate Support Team for their persistence finding this long after I had given up!

A combimation of pressure of work and miscellanous other issues including a lost recording for the first of these two sessions meant that I got so far behind on the overviews that this week I have done a combined overview for the week with the lost recording (Students are Students) and the following week’s Serendipity session. I will also be doing a separate post for the most recent webinar on motivating students.

Students are Students


Unfortunately we have no recording available for this session which was very lively. Also I’m sorry for the delay in posting about this webinar but I was hoping that the recording would become available. If the recording goes eventually become available I will add it to the post and Tweet this. The post will be longer than usual because of the lack of recording, and will try to describe the activities and outcomes in rather more detail than the usual overview.

The Session

The focus of the session was on classroom management issues and on drawing some parallels between these issues in a face-to-face situation and in the virtual context. We began by inviting people to put their main classroom management issues on the whiteboard.


Then we grouped them to try and put similar ones together. This was slightly arbitrary as there is certainly a case for combining the “need/relevance” group with the “motivation/interest” group in that perceived irrelevance impacts on motivation. In my personal opinion, a perception that the class/work is not relevant is not the only reason for poor motivation and/or a high level of disinterest. So we ended up with six issues: behavioural; motivational; perception of need/relevance; attendance; parental pressure; differing “level”.

Using a series of polls we narrowed these down as it was not practical to consider them all – lack of motivation was a clear winner, we also took a brief look at the behavioural issue.


In both cases we whiteboarded some of our own strategies for managing lack of motivation, mainly in a face-to-face context.


Several of these were described in much more depth by people who used them giving us a great “feel” for how they worked in a particular context. We also touched briefly on barriers to implementing some of these strategies including: the heavy demands made on the teacher by project based learning; and the requirement in some places for “seat time” where students have to be in class for set times – this precludes time-out options.


In the short time left before the end of the session we talked about managing potentially disruptive behaviours whatever the cause in both the face-to-face and virtual environments. Again we used whiteboard, text chat and audio. As before a variety of strategies were suggested although we lacked the time to explore these in more detail. However there were a range of ideas put forward in text and audio as well as on the whiteboard.

These included: involving parents; the use of ground rules – preferably wholly or partly developed by the students; invoking peer pressure; adopting calming techniques and removal of the student from the room. There was considerable discussion in text and audio about the factors that may contribute to behavioural issues. Two main possibilities were raised:

  1. The almost continuous consumption by students of sweet beverages and “snack” foods high in sugar and other additives and the possibility of countering this by encouraging the drinking of water instead.
  2. An increasing trend for shorter breaks (recesses) and less physical activity undertaken within those breaks leaving students with excess energy that may be channeled into disruptive behaviour.

Due to the time factor we didn’t really explore the behavioural issues in much depth. Although from my personal perspective they are much more significant in a face to face situation than is lack of motivation. This is because in my opinion an unmotivated student impacts mainly on their own learning whereas a student showing disruptive behavior impacts negatively on the learning of all the others in the class. Of course unmotivated students often move into disruption for various reasons and then this becomes a behavioural issue. In a virtual situation it can be easier to manage disruptive students by simply restricting their access to tools and so limiting their impact on others.


Finally we looked very briefly at our perceptions of a few of the advantages/disadvantages of face-to-face vs virtual with respect to motivation and behavior. Face-to-face was seen as having advantages in: seeing body language and in opportunities for teamwork, and disadvantages: in that the students know if you are having a bad day, and also in the potential for physical risk. Virtual has advantages in: the physical separation for reducing risk and minimising disruption through controlling access, and disadvantages in: not being able to pick up non-verbal cues and also the inablitity to see when students are “playing” rather than working’

Luckily (from my perspective as we have no recording available) there were few links shared during this session. One of our participants Heidi Chaves suggested this book for  a variety of classroom management strategies.

Serendipity – the Place of Technology in Education


Our regular Edublogs Serendipity unconference sessions are always enjoyable, not least because we have no idea at the beginning where we will go in our journey!

On this occasion we explored our perceptions of the place of technology in the schools of today and tomorrow. For this session as usual we have a recording link that is well worthviewing.


As often happens in these sessions the discussion was wide ranging touching on many of the well known issues around technology in education. This is very much the nature of the Serendipity sessions in contrast to our Fine Focus sessions where we endeavour to stay ”on topic”. In addition to audio and text chat we filled three whiteboards with thoughts and ideas!



With lively sessions such as this using the three communication strands of audio, text chat and whiteboard a post can only give a “taste” of the session, catch the recording for the full “flavour”.

Join us each week for our webinars  alternate weeks we have:

Edublogs Serendipity – unconference session where you 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.

Edublogs Fine Focus – one of three strands “Talk Time” facilitated discussions on specific topics;  “Tools and Strategies” where the focus is on the use of specific tools or strategies in a teaching and learning context; or “Techie How To” where we learn how to use a an application or tool

Same time each week on Thursday  at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the Edublogs/Elluminate Community Partnership Elluminate room

Webinar overview – Feed Learning With a Hot Potato


This session (recorded here)  was great fun! Despite loss of Internet at our end in the early stages. Our system (ie that of myself and Phil Hart) has been so reliable for the last couple of years that I had become a bit complacent and was out of the habit of automatically giving someone else Moderator status in case of problems.  Suffice it to say that our connection came back up just as Phil was starting our backup satellite link. We returned to the session where everyone, with great confidence in our imminent return, had continued chatting. I instantly gave Moderator status to another participant. As a result of this I will make a big effort to revert back to my former practice of giving  someone else Moderator status in each session. In the early days of these sessions I tried to rotate the extra moderator around fairly regular participants. I think that doing this is very good practice anyway as it gives people a gentle introduction to the role and an opportunity to see the extra tools that are available to Moderators.

Overview of the webinar

Hot Potatoes (download from here) is a free easy to use application for developing simple interactives. These can be saved in one or more of several different ways including SCORM compliant and webpage formats. It is one of several free applications that I use regularly to create activities that I can upload into our Learning Management System (LMS).

I followed my usual practice at the start of trying to get a “feel” for where everyone was “coming from” on Hot Potatoes. On this occasion it seemed that most people were relatively unfamiliar with it. I also made a brief comparison with two other freely available applications that I also use: ARED (downloadable from here ) developed several years ago with Australian Flexible Learning Framework funding; and eXe (available here) developed collaboratively in New Zealand.

We had a very brief look at the types of activity that can be created.


Then we moved on via a Web Tour to our (mine and Phil’s) Moodle playground where we had uploaded some activities (taken from those I use with my literacy and study skills students). This gave everyone the opportunity to try out a few activities from the student perspective by logging in as “Guest” and accessing them through “Hot Potatoes 101”.


Having seen some activities from the student perspective we moved on to make an activity. The consensus was to collaboratively produce a quiz. For this I used Application Share – shared part of my desktop, started the JQuiz Hot Potatoes quizmaker and gave volunteers control of the application to write a question each.


As we reached the end of the session there was lively discussion in text about the features of Hot Potatoes; the potential for use in different ways including giving students opportunities to create activities themselves and a brief consideration of whether the application does anything you can’t do with pencil and paper. This has given me food for further thought and has generated a discussion topic to form the basis for our next Fine Focus session in 2 weeks time.

Despite the messy start due to the Internet glitch the feedback was positive and I was reminded yet again how much people like the opportunity to try things out in the session. This, as always, reinforces my desire to keep “improving my act” and thinking of more ways to include interactivity in webinars.

Next week

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 April 15th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (7pm USA EST, Midnight BST) or Friday April 16th at 1am CEST,7am West Aus, 9am NSW, depending on your timezone – in the usual Elluminate room