Edublogs webinar overview – Birdwatching with biblical binoculars


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.


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 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.

Edublogs webinar – Global Student Blogging Challenge


In this recorded session Sue Wyatt (@tasteach) gave us a fascinating look at the Global Student Blogging Challenge soon to get underway for its first run of 2012.

The Session

Sue started with a little of the history of the Challenge which has been happening for several years and has grown phenomenally since its inception.

Sue then shared  and talked about a variety of pages from the Challenge. She told us about how the Challenge works for students and teachers.  This included a look at some of the activities and answering our questions as we looked at the pages.

There was much interest in the mentoring aspect of the Challenge. Sue asks for volunteer mentors each of whom is asked to visit and comment on a number of student blogs.

If you are interested in the Challenge and are an educator, future educator or perhaps a retired educator then please consider volunteering as a mentor. With over 1,000 students in the last Challenge and more likely for March 2012 Sue needs 30-40 mentors. As Sue said in her presentation you don’t need to be an expert blogger – the role is more about visiting, commenting and sometimes making suggestions on what students might write about. Checkout the Mentor Registration Page and be a part of the Challenge!

There are already students and classes registering for the March 2012 Challenge so if you are a teacher with class or student blogs and you want to participate it’s time to think about registering right now!


A great session – the Global Student Blogging Challenge is such an exciting event. Each year I try to plan for involving at least some of my students and/or colleagues. so far this hasn’t happened. Partly this is because of the complexity (for me anyway) of initiating blogging with my totally online regional literacy students who often struggle with computer literacy as well. However this year we have a project which will enable us to try out a model for getting students started with blogs by using them as a simple e-portfolio. So although the March Challenge will not be possible I still have hopes for September!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday February 16that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday February 17th 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 overviews – three in one post

Why three in one?

Apologies all for very tardy posting! As usual the return to work after our long summer break meant a frenetic few days before returning and subsequently 2 weeks where I have felt more and more overwhelmed by the number of things I need to do.

Introduction  to Serendipity – Teachers and blogging

This recorded Serendipity session took a look at teachers and blogging – whether all teachers should be blogging and just what should be made public/included in a professional blog. We had thunderstorms during this session and I missed a bit in the middle (power outage) which took out my desktop and also temporarily my backup laptop internet (wireless modem). Everyone just carried on with the discussion – my idea of a perfect session is when everyone just carries on if the moderator drops out 🙂

The Session

We followed our usual format of putting our topic ideas on the whiteboard and then polling to choose the subject for discussion. The winner was a combined topic around “All teachers should blog” and How much private info/thoughs should we reveal on a professional blog.

We started with a whiteboard although, as is often the case when we are a small group who all have audio, the discussion was quite audio based.  Discussion ranged around the pros of blogging for teachers, should it be compulsory as part of professional development and some privacy thoughts.


This session illustrated to me that sometimes you just can’t be sufficiently prepared for contingencies. During the session we had a major thunderstorm and I lost power. I had anticipated the possiblity and was also in the room as a moderator via laptop and wireless modem. However the strike that put the main  power off also temporarily knocked out the wireless modem and thus kicked me out of the BbC room. Luckily the participants (all very experienced users) just carried on. In retrospect I probably should have made someone else moderator as well!

Introduction to “Do you Toon?”

The second webinar in this post was an Edublogs Fine Focus – Do you Toon? As always this was recorded. This topic happened because I have cartoons and animations on my mind at the moment. One of the mini-projects that I will be using with students in my National VET E-learning (NVELS) project “E-xtraordinary Learning For A Digital Age” (ELFADA) is for the students to explore some video and cartoon texts and then make their own and embed them in their blogs, so I am exploring the tools available so that I can focus on the easiest to use. It seemed a good opportunity for one of our occasional explore and share sessions.

The Session

When we explore tools in webinars one of the major considerations is how easy it is to learn the tool because we always have in mind the potential for using with students without them needing a long time to acquire the basics. We began with a list of 5 tools (including one iPad app which no-one explored leaving us with four). The first

activity was a look at whether we knew any of the tools. Then we followed a similar pattern to previous tool exploration sessions. Everyone chose a tool to explore from Go! Animate, Make Beliefs Comix, Pixton and Toon Way.

Having decided which tool to explore the group dispersed for ten minutes to explore their chosen tools. Then we reconvened to share ideas on: ease of learning the basics; how engaging to use; possible lessons/contexts; whether we would use with students.


These sessions are always both fun and informative! Exploring something new in a short time frame is always challenging but is authentic in terms of potential use with students. Students need to be able to grasp the basics of a tool quickly because it is a tool and not the primary learning objective of the activity. In my context, with often disengaged and/or not very ICT literate students, I find that tools have to be both quick and easy to learn in order to engage students and enable them to develop their “text” (visual, oral and written) creation skills.

Introduction to Serendipity – Strategies for overwhelmed teachers

Reaching the end of the marathon post with this recorded Serendipity session. This is an issue close to all of us who teach in any context. Teaching itself is demanding enough with the need to meet individual student needs across many levels, learning preferences and personal interests. Add the demands of curriculum and standardised testing or excessive audit requirements, and the increasingly heavy administrative load (this latter often the result of a requirement to justify almost every one of the myriad professional decisions we make each day) and it is unsurprising that the majority of good and conscientious “teachers” feel overwhelmed!

The Session

As always we started with ideas for the discussion topic of the week, and then moved on to vote on these. Perhaps predictably “Strategies for overwhelemed teachers” was the absolute winner. Certainly as one who has just returned to my role as a lecturer in public vocational education at the start of a new academic year in Australia I already feel overwhelmed, and for colleagues in the northern hemisphere that return to teaching after the Christmas holiday in the darkest, coldest time of the year can (as I well remember) be soul destroying in itself.

We decided to take a brief look at what it was that made us feel overwhelmed – inevitably the main culprits are those things we have to do that don’t directly relate to teaching eg admin/paperwork and also the ever moving “goalposts” imposed from outside.

Then we moved on to look at the strategies for dealing with these.

Between us we actually had two whiteboards of ideas – one is shown above. As always the discussion and sharing was not limited to the whiteboard and there were also many textchat and audio contributions to our thoughts making this a session where it is well worth catching the recording. One of the most significant things that several of us took away at the end of the session was the awareness that we all have the same issues wherever we are in the world.


I think this session will resonate with teachers everywhere! I certainly found it helped me with my current sense of being overwhelmed. In common with others I find/have found that my global PLN has been a phenomenal support for me in helping me to survive and manage all those pressures that overwhelm me. Often the the support comes in practical help, advice and suggestions. Sometimes it is just that with a global PLN there is someone I can connect with and chat to via Twitter in that “dark night of the soul” when once again I am up at 3am working because the “overwhelmedness” is preventing me from sleeping!

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. This will be a fantastic session with Sue Wyatt (@tasteach) who will tell us about (and invite you and your students to take part in) the Global Student Blogging Challenge that she has now been running twice a year for the last few years. Join us on Thursday February 9th 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 10th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.