Edublogs webinar overviews – Serendipity (“good” BbC sessions), infographic tools


This post covers two webinars. A Serendipity session in which the topic was a consideration of the ingredients for “good” BbC sessions and a FineFocus session where we explored some online infographic tools

Serendipity – ingredients of  “good” BlackboardCollaborate sessions

This recorded session was a Serendipity (unconference) session. The topic chosen was “What makes a good BlackboardCollaborate  session”. A topic about which there was plenty to share!

We extended the topic into a “playtime” towards the end of the session. This involved giving everyone moderator privileges and opportunities to try some moderator tools. As always this was fun, albeit slightly chaotic at times.

Each time we do this I am made aware of the fact that very few webinars of the many available across the globe provide much in the way of opportunities for participants to interact and perhaps more significantly the opportunity to try out moderator tools and practice developing interactive segments. This has given me food for thought and an idea for semi-regular sessions/workshops focussing on particular tools/interaction types where participants will have the opportunity to develop an interactive segment during the webinar and then share with everyone.

Online Infographic making tools

This recorded session was one on “Exploring online tools”. On this occasion we took a look at some online infographic creators.

As is usual with these sessions we started off with some of our individual thoughts on the meaning of the term “infographic”. This was followed by a look at how many of us used infographics. This revealed that as a group our usage was low with no-one using them more than rarely.

When we explore tools we have only a limited time within the webinar so it provides a good test for usefulness in a teaching situation. Anything that takes a long time to join and/or to pick up the basic use is not really practical for use with students. This is  because if it takes too long for students to learn then learning the tech can become more significant in the “lesson” than the learning objectives.

We had four tools to explore – everyone chose a tool and went away to spend 10 minutes exploring. We then shared our opinions and ideas. This was a particularly interesting session because infographic makers were relatively new to all of us. Because we generally felt we needed a bit more time this week we also gave ourselves some homework – to make an infographic to share at the start of the upcoming Serendipity session. I have made mine and look forward to sharing it in the session!


Two fun sessions! Sharing virtual classroom tools is something I love to do so the Serendipity session was particularly enjoyable for me. Exploring tools because it involves  high degree of participant activity is also something that I get a lot of satisfaction from.

Our Next Webinar

Our next webinar will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday February 14th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday February 15th 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 – Quick & easy online tools


This Fine Focus session was a little different from usual! I am always trying to think of new topics and different ways we can approach these in our virtual room. As most of you know I have a permanent “bee in my bonnet” about the webinars being participative and interactive and I try very hard to avoid sessions where I talk too much! This session was (I think) very interactive as well as exciting – checkout the recording and see what you think.

The idea behind this session comes out of my desire to always have some – easy to learn, quick to use and no need to register – online tools at my fingertips. Many of my students (previously face-to-face and now online) lack motivation and engagement – they are often unwillingly in education/training – so being able to give them a task that involves using a quick to learn tool to create a visual outcome can be an effective engagement strategy.

The Session

For the session I collected together ten links to what I hoped would be small easy to learn and use online tools. Some of these I was already familiar with, some I had heard of but not used and some were completely unknown to me and found through a search for a type/function of tool.

We started with a series of quick polls to gauge familiarity with each of the ten tools. The degree of familarity ranged from some people using a particular tool quite regularly to at least one tool with no-one having any experience of its use.

The main part of the session was based on a quick exploration of a chosen tool by each participant. For this we had a table of the tools and everyone put their name beside the tool they were going to explore.  We then allowed a timed ten minutes to “play” with the tool – the rationale being that if it took much more than ten minutes to use at the most basic level then it would not be very useful with students as a quick re-engager.

The Tools – Function and links (these are in no particular order)

The “playtime” was followed by quick evaluations from individuals of their chosen tool against the following criteria: ease of use; how quick to learn; potential usefulness with students.


This different way of running the session was exciting for me and seemed to be very much enjoyed by everyone. I really loved the evaluations and comments from everyone on the tools they had explored. It felt like a very valid way to investigate tools that we might ask students to learn and use very quickly. I am well aware that if I can’t use the basics of a tool in 5-10 minutes then it is unreasonable of me to expect my students to do so. I think if we have a favourite tool that we use often we sometimes forget how long it took us to get started with that tool when we ask our students to come to grips with it in minutes!

Feedback on the session was very positive with suggestions that we do something similar again and also some terrific ideas for variations such as small groups evaluating a tool and feeding back or taking a tool away and then coming back to a later session with a more detailed evaluation.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday September 1stat 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday September 2nd 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