Edublogs webinar overview – all about #gtchat


This is the overview for our most recent (recorded as always) FineFocus webinar with guest presenter Lisa Conrad (@ljconrad).Lisa gave us a fascinating look at the Twitter (Gifted and Talented) #gtchat from its inception to the current position and on into the future. She also gave us opportunities for and answers to many questions!

The session

Lisa began with an explanation of #gtchat and a poll to find out our awareness of #chats in general on Twitter. Then she talked about the origins and history of #gtchat from its foundation by Deborah Mersino the first moderator, through the transition to Lisa herself as moderator, and also the support from the Texas Association for the Gifted & Talented.

Next Lisa gave us a run through on joining Twitter and also: ideas on finding relevant people to follow; suggestions on setting up a Twitter client for #chats; and some explanations of Twitter jargon.

Then came a look at the format of #gtchat

With a look at how topics are determined by Poll. This led into a look at some recent topics, and some recent guests.

Lisa then moved on to the future, starting with upcoming events and then moving into the future with exciting ideas for future developments in other social media to enhance the undoubted value of #gtchat as a professional development opportunity.

This concluded the formal part of the session and we moved on to a great question and answer session where Lisa did a terrific job in responding to many questions.


This was a great session! Lisa gave us a fascinating insight into the “inner workings” of #gtchat and much food for thought and inspiration through the potential future developments that will add another layer of “richness” to #gtchat. Thank you Lisa for such an interesting session!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday August 16th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday August 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 Serendipity webinar overview – emerging tech et al


As has been the case a couple of times recently this was  a Serendipity session where we didn’t vote on a topic! The consensus was to take a quick look at all three that were proposed – “Emerging technologies for the classroom”, “Introduction to PLNs” and “rscon4” The last of these is a little cryptic. It refers to the Reform Symposium Conference for which a date has not yet been finalised. The hashtag seems likely to be #rscon4. The session was, as always, recorded.

(For the link for live webinars and info about the times and topics scroll to the bottom of this post)

The session

A lively session with much sharing on the whiteboard and in text chat, although I felt – as so often that I talked too much!

We began with a whiteboard of ideas about emerging technologies. 

Then shared our knowledge of those we had any experience with – my particular fascination out of this part of the session was with the concept of 3D printers. Something completely new to me & definitely out of the realms of science fiction! This was the longest part of the session.

Our next topic was “Introduction to PLNs”. Again we used a whiteboard to share our thoughts on the variety of tools and strategies we use as part of our own individual PLNs. Any discussion about PLNs is always worthwhile because there are always new thoughts and angles on how we each view them. This was a “flying visit” to the world of the PLN but sufficient to give a flavour!

Finally another “flying visit” this time to “#rscon4” this is actually the probable #tag for this year’s (or maybe early next year’s) – the date is yet to be finalised – Reform Symposium Conference. This was a very short chat as the planning for rscon4 is still in the early stages. However it seems it will be a very exciting event using multiple strands and platforms.


This was a great session – I always find something new and interesting to me personally in every session. However some stand out more than others and 3D printers are a definite standout for me. The whole idea is getting so close to Star Trek “replicators” that I can almost hope for “transporter beams” to enable me to travel without the claustrophobic “tin tube” experience of flying!

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. This week Lisa Conrad (@ljconrad) – the Moderator of  the lively Twitterchat for Gifted and Talented (#gtchat) will give us a “heads up” on #gtchat and on moderating a #chat.  Join us on Thursday August 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 August 10th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

Two Edublogs webinar overviews – Fb privacy & Google power search


This overview covers our two most recent webinars. This first was a Serendipity session where we discussed Facebook privacy sessions and the flow-on effects that happen between accounts. The second webinar (a FineFocus) was inspired by the recent short course in “Power Searching” from Google.

Serendipity – Facebook privacy settings

In this session, recorded as always, we discussed issues around Facebook privacy settings. This arose from one of the group recounting an experience where a family member had changed something in their profile and this had had a knock on effect on other people’s accounts.

Facebook privacy (and other) settings seem to cause issues for many people. We took a “walk” through some of these and shared how we try to use them.

They do seem inordinately complex. For example I am not entirely sure what would happen in terms of my privacy if I ticked the boxes in the window shown above. Personally I don’t use any apps and games, and I think I have all these things turned off but I am not really sure!

This was an interesting session. My concern is that if a group of quite “techie” and social network savvy people have trouble “getting our heads” around Facebook’s privacy and other settings what chance does the average user have!

FineFocus – Are you a “Power Searcher”

The second session, again recorded, was a look at some of the search features that were explored in the recent “Power Searching with Google” course that I joined. Although the interactive (forum posting) parts of the course have finished the content and activities are still available.  I was already a fairly sophisticated searcher using many of the tools explored but I enjoyed the course immensely and certainly learned some new ideas.

Once the scene setting was complete I started as I so often do with some “where are you coming from” activities, including a question about current favourite search tricks and strategies.


Most of the session was taken up with brief explorations and opportunities to “play with” some of the search options that I had found interesting in the course. However there was also some discussion about how we see different results and even differenct tools depending on which Google domain you are searching through. For example the “” domain gives different results to the “.com” domain. My preference is usually to use “.com” so we looked at how to force this – Google is very persistent in forcing the search into your country domain, often just typing the “.com” domain doesn’t work and the domain reverts back to the country.

We took a look at some basic search points straight from the Google course these being choice of words and the order. Then we moved on to look at images (colour filtering and finding a specific image). Next we explored the right hand information panels that appear with some searches. These are not visible in search outputs from all Google domains. They can be seen in “.com” but not (at the moment) in “”.  We finished off with a look at the “SearchResearch” blog where there is regular weekly search puzzle and an image search on “Yarn bombing” – try that one yourself if you haven’t heard the term :).

The session worked really well – quite fast paced, with a blend of whiteboard activities, app share for examples and opportunities try out the tools. Certainly for me the hour flew by!


Both of these sessions were great to be part of. As always privacy issues are of huge concern to us all, so sessions on this are always very worthwhile because they heighten awareness. The power search session was fun and hopefully also informative.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday August 2nd at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday August 3rd 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 – the Global Classroom project


In this session, recorded as always, we heard from Michael Graffin about the variety of projects that have formed part of the “Global Classroom Project” (#GlobalClassroom) this year.

The Session

Michael took us on an incredible journey. He started with some background, firstly explaining how the Global Classroom came about and its reach both geographically and in numbers. Then moving on to the aims and ethos of the community.

For me the most exciting part was the project stories – Michael shared the project stories and some of the highlights of the year. We were lucky in that Lin-Lin Tan from Taiwan, one of the teachers involved in several projects was able to join the session. She told us a little about how the Global Classroom projects have affected her and her students.

Michael moved on to consider some of the impacts of Global Classroom on teachers and some lessons learnt. Finally he turned to the future with thoughts for next year’s #GlobalClassroom.


This was a fantastic session! Michael gave us a brilliant overview of Global Classroom and the projects. Chat was very lively throughout with many ideas shared and also links to many of the projects (thanks to Anne Mirtschin for her help in dropping links into chat). If you are looking to be both inspired and awe inspired then this is a MUST catch recording!

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday July 19th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday July 21st 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 – 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 overview – “Facebook won’t go away!”


This Fine Focus session, recording here, was similar to one I did recently with colleagues. I am currently introducing some Web2.0 tools to some of my colleagues and Facebook is one of these.

The Session

The session was fun! I used video and application share,I  had intended a web tour also but BbC wasn’t co-operating so the web-tour became another applicaion share. We started with some general discussion about Facebook and moved on to some of the uses and pros and cons of using with students – including the fact that it is a “place” where many students already “hang out”.

Next we took a look at some of the practicalities of using Facebook in education and the issues around privacy and confidentiality. This included a look at the practicalities of having a second account and the advantages of groups over fan pages. We finished with a quick look at the need for management by group owners to ensure that behaviour remains acceptable.


I felt that I talked too much in this session – something I often feel to be the case when I am the “presenter” as well as the facilitator.  However text chat was active and there was great input on whiteboards so the session seemed to be effective. Also as usual I tried to include too much! So the session was a bit rushed towards the end.

Next Webinar

Our next session facilitated by Tracy Watanabe (@tracywatanabe) one of our regular participants will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday November 10that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday November 11th 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.

Edublogs webinar overview – Social Media With Students?


This Fine Focus session was really a spin-off from last week’s Serendipity session where we touched on using Twitter with students but didn’t really have time to explore the issues. This was a great session with lots of whiteboard activity and as usual the session was recorded.

The Session

Although the session title refers to “social media” this is such a massive topic that I focussed on social networking with students and chose what are probably the two most well known and widely different from one another social networks – Twitter and Facebook. I then added in GooglePlus because although this is very new I suspect it will ultimately be extensively used with students because of the way circles can be used.

We started with some polling to find out where everyone was “coming from” on using social networks with students. Next we set the scene with a brief look at some recent items on social netwroks with students including two short videos. This led on the the quesion of whether we should use this type of tool with students – the poll result was a resounding “Yes” and we quickly filled a whiteboard with the positives and negatives.

The next considerations were the contexts and circumstances in which we might use social networking with our students. This was followed by sharing how (if we currently do) we use one or more of these with students. We finished with a poll on whether we now felt it was more likely that we would use these with students. There is also a slide with live links for the videos and some other items of interest for social networking with students.


This session worked well – it followed a similar pattern to most of the other discussion type topics that I facilitate in Fine Focus sessions. As is often the case I felt that I talked too much, however everyone seemed to enjoy the session. The use of video was something I don’t do often – although I have recently been showing colleagues how to incorporate it via the multimedia window. It worked fairly well although the videos did not play for one participant despite being mp4 and so likely to be playable by the majority of people. This is one of the reasons that I tend to avoid video the other is bandwidth and download time issues. Even though both videos were small files they still took considerable time to download to participants after they joined the room, so it isn’t a good idea to play videos very early in the session. However I will be trying to include more video because I feel it is something I need to become more familiar with.

Next Webinar

Our next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday September 15that 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday September 16th 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

#RSCON3 – A finger on the pulse of my PLN!


Now that my  mental dust has settled it’s time to write about the Reform Symposium. This is the first of what I hope will be three posts and is an overview of the session I presented on iGoogle – “Keep a finger on the pulse of your PLN” – with some reflection included. The session was recorded as were all of them here is the link to “Keep a finger on the pulse of your PLN” other sessions can be accessed via the Reform Symposium Conference Spreadsheet.

I seem to have been talking about iGoogle a lot over the last year and will be continuing to do so as I am delivering a Professional Development session on it for colleagues in a few weeks. The ever increasing flow of information across our desktops generates a need for some way of handling and drawing together the threads.

The Session

This was a great session for me and hopefully also for those participating. After  a bit of scene setting we started with a poll on how familiar participants were with iGoogle and then a whiteboard for sharing ideas about what exactly it is! I also asked for people to share on a whiteboard the five main strands of their PLN so that I could get a feel for the gadgets needed by the majority – these were fior  Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader  all of which I already had on my iGoogle page.

Then it was time to tell the story of how I came to use iGoogle as my PLE hub to bring together the strands of my PLN. This introduced the main part of the session which was a “show and tell” using Application Share to share my iGoogle page and talk about:

  • how I have set up the tabs (individual pages) and organised the content
  • discuss the gadgets available and how to access them
  • look at how I draw in those threads that don’t have a specific gadget available
  • how the page can be customised (I use a different theme for each of my tabs)

I found this really exciting because as I was sharing people were opening and exploring – sometimes “dusting off” their own iGoogle (or in some cases starting their own iGoogle ac). This made the session very participative as there were practical questions coming through text chat – including as always at least one I couldn’t answer about making tabs public.

We finished with “take-aways” these are always fascinating for me because they are so varied and illustrate so well how different we all are in our perceptions and understandings. This time (very pleasing for me)  there were many intending to experiment with iGoogle as a possible hub for their own PLN.


I really enjoyed doing this session for several reasons.

  1. The Reform Symposium (#RSCON) events always have such a buzz about them so just being part of it is exciting.
  2. I love it when I go away with homework from my “class”. It just confirms to me again that one of the best ways of learning and embedding understanding of something is to “teach” others about it!
  3. It is another fantastic way of connecting with my PLN around the globe – these events always feel to me as though I already know most of my audience.
  4. Having a global audience has an incredible feel all of its own and I find it quite awe inspiring that people from so many different places have chosen to come and listen to me.

I’m already looking forward to the next event and would like to finish this post with some thanks! Firstly many thanks to Denise (@mrsdkrebbs)  for being a fantastic Moderator for my session. Secondly a huge THANK YOU to ALL the organisers for their tremendous contributions to the smooth running of the event – in many cases behind the scenes. Thirdly very special thanks to Shelly Terrell (@ShellTerrell) (she who needs no sleep) and Clive Elsmore (@CliveSir) (master of timezones) for their stamina and overwhelming  committment to making #RSCON3 such a success.



Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – Google+ playtime


This session gave us all some exciting Serendipitous learning. We actually over-ran by a very long time because as we neared the end of the scheduled session we decided to try a Google+ hangout. So the recording is rather longer than usual!

The Session

Naturally with the very recent release of Google+ beta this was one of the proposed topics for the session and came out the clear winner in the poll for our topic.

We started with a quick poll on who was currently experimenting with Google+ We found that only two of us in the session and a third – temporarily away but tweeting until he rejoined the session were currently exploring G+

We started with a whiteboard for thought and ideas but soon moved to Application sharing using my Google+ page as the stimulus to discuss what we knew of the functions and features. As those of us already using G+ talked about our experiences to date and tried to answer questions from those as yet to join we also sent invitations to the others so that they could join.


The discussion moved on through sharing information about how circles work and then on into hangouts. We were all keen to try a hangout and after a bit of time spent and trial and error – mainly due to the fact that several of us were still in the joining up process, those of us still in the session were able to join the hangout successfully. I kept my Elluminate microphone live until all of us were in the hangout, where the discussion continued as we played with some of the features.

I hope that some of the others in the group will add their comments to this post about their impressions of how the session as a whole worked and also their thoughts about Google+


This was a very exciting session to be part of. I always find sessions where we are not only in an Elluminate room but also use a second application where we can communicate as a group (as we have done in the past with GoogleDocs) to be particularly fascinating. I think with a little careful planning around managing the audio we could successfully integrate a Google hangout and an Elluminate session which could have advantages for viewing videos and perhaps for other purposes.

Our Next Session

FineFocusSmallOur next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. This week (as a spinoff  from a number of recent questions raised about playing videos in virtual sessions) Phil will be showing us how to adjust videos so that they are less bandwidth hungry and looking at some of the resulting “trade-offs”  in ” Is this video worth watchingvirtually?”   Join us on Thursday July 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 in Australia – in the usual Elluminate room

Edublogs webinar overview – Trouble with timezones?


This session was fun – we had old friends and new (including @tomwhitby a great Twitter contributor and creator of  EduPLN ning – part of the inspiration for this session through Twitter convs with Phil and myself)  who made it a great session through their input. The topic was timezones (TZ) – a mix of background about them and strategies for us all to be in the right virtual place at the right time.

The Session

As usual we recorded the session (please let me know if you access it) for those who were unable to attend.

For this webinar I added to the  “Where in the world are you?” map by including some timezones and also the equator. Should we keep this extra timezone info or does it make the map too busy? Let me know in comments or via Twitter (@JoHart).

We started with a look by Phil (@philhart) at some of the terminology of timezones. Phil teased us with a couple of questions about the International Date Line and a quiz about time for homework!

Then we moved on to sharing some of our own issues in working with timezones.

IssuesOrganisedResizeWe took a quick run through some of the strategies that I find effective in enabling me to be in the right virtual place at the right time. Some of these are also useful in helping to develop a “feel” for what time it is elsewhere. We finished with sharing some idas strategies used by others in working with timezones.


Timezones and the issues around working with them are one the topics that sometimes generate a “rant” from me. More specifically I find the parochial attitude often displayed by people assuming that everyone else is familiar with their particular timezone to be irritating. In my own very personal opinion we have a standard time that does not vary seasonally (ie GMT or UTC) so we should always reference back to that. It is then easy for everyone as they only need to know the relationship between their own TZ and GMT/UTC and not try to work out relationships betweeen their own TZ and several others.

Next Webinar

SerendipitybsmallOur next session is an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday May 26th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday May 27th 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. If you want to propose a topic in advance then visit the Serendipity Wallwisher and add your topic.