Edublogs Serendipity webinar – miscellany


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.


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 webinar overviews – catching up on three!


Once again I must apologise for my slowness in posting webinar overviews. I hope that from now on I will be back to posting after each session. The project that has taken almost all my time and energy for the last few months is complete! So I hope I will now have a little time for my PLN.

These three sessions were:

  • a Fine Focus – about using Symbaloo pages to help students keep on track in our online adult literacy course
  • a Serendipity in which we talked about and explored Pecha Kucha about which we knew very little at the start and much more by the end of the session
  • another FineFocus session – this one was delving a little deeper into some of the storymakers we tried out a few weeks ago through sharing stories and how we made them

 Online students staying on track

This session, recorded as always, was a look at one aspect of my now completed project where we have been trialling a new delivery strategy  for our online adult literacy students while also working to improve digital literacy and online study skills..

Issues that often arise with all students when using the Internet are those of: getting “off track” and becoming “lost in the surf”. These issues are a particular problem with online students as the teacher/lecturer is not “surfing” the physical room and so is unable to see when this might be happening and offer guidance.

The use of a project based approach with online students also has implications for teacher/lecturer time as students researching completely independently may all choose different websites of varying quality or even ones tht are not relevant to the task so the teacher/lecturer has to evaluate many sites.

This session looked at the combined strategies of “chunking” activities into “daily tasks” to help maintain focus, and then managing the links that students used by using topic based Symbaloo pages and colour coding the tiles for the different student levels and activites. Ownership was also provided through individual student choice of tiles for some activites.

I enjoyed this session – inevitably I think – because it gave me a chance to talk about the project that has been such a great success for the students and that I have enjoyed facilitating so much. Once my “mental dust settles” I intend to post more about the whole experience.

 Serendipity – What is Pecha Kucha?

This was a Serendipity (recording here) that “just happened” there was no vote on the topic which arose out of the chat before the formal start of the session.

The topic arose because one of our participants was considering submitting to present at a conference and the required form was Pecha Kucha. None of us knew very much about this as a presentation format (including the person considering using it). We were all interested to learn more!

This session was mainly audio and some textchat, with the whiteboard being used for occasional ideas and for some links about Pecha Kucha. We shared our preconceptions and then did some exploring individually to find out a little more about the method to enable us to discuss it more effectively.

Our discussion was wide ranging as we considered whether we might choose to use this ourselves and if so in what sort of context. There was some agreement that there were advantages for  some presentation where it could provide opportunities to “taste” several topics and then spend more time is Q&A with the presenter of the preferred topic. However this could be very frustrating if an attendee hd strong interest in more than one – or from the presenter perspective if all attendees focussed on one topic.

There was also some discussion about the merit of Pecha Kucha more as an art form than as a presentation strategy – an intriguing and appealing thought with which to end this great discussion!

Story Sharing

This recorded FineFocus session was a “spin off” from one a few weeks ago in which we took a look at some online story making tools in one of our “quick and easy tools” explorations.

In this session we shared stories we had made. The star of our show was @jofrei who is a great storyteller! See her stories about Sprite et al  She hadfantastic examples from Storybird, Storyjumper and LittleBirdTales for us. Phil and Sandra also shared stories. Sharing the stories provided opportunities to talk in more depth about the pros and cons of each tool and also to share experiences in storymaking generally. I was guilty of not doing my homework but shared a great story created by one of my students.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday June 21st at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday June 22nd 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.