It’s just the beginning

On today’s blogging agenda: webinar reflection and professional development. How perfectly these two topics go together in one blog post, since webinars as used by librarians are typically for professional development.

I thought the webinars I attended were effective. I appreciated the opportunity to do a webinar in a low-pressure setting. It’s a very different experience from teaching a class in person. For one, you can be much more attached to your notes than at an in person instruction session. On the other hand, it’s nearly impossible to gauge a room. I am not a huge fan of Elluminate, I have to say. It seems unnecessarily complicated. Ryan wrote about this before, and I have to agree. The problem with webinar software at the moment is that it’s trying really hard to replicate a classroom environment (a whiteboard? Really?). It’s not taking advantage of the uniqueness of a distance learning environment, and many of Elluminate’s features show this kind of thinking.

I also have to agree with Shauna about the chat box. I found it more distracting than helpful. If I listened to the presenters, I missed stuff in chat and had to scroll back to catch the thread but then I couldn’t pay attention to the presenters. Anyway, the conversations in chat rarely added anything to the presentation and frequently were off-topic. Maybe with a group of people who didn’t know each other as well as we do, it would be less of a problem. In my next webinar, I will strongly consider turning chat off until it’s needed for interaction.

I enjoyed the articles we read this week about professional development. They all have great ideas to think about. They all have a certain number of elements that are the same, however. They tapped into people’s desire to learn new things. They engaged participants in their own learning by using discussion groups or blogging. Participants received feedback on their practice through blogs or observation. The professional development encouraged play and experimentation while de-emphasizing perfection or knowing everything on a topic. And, 2 of the 3 used monetary or gift incentives to encourage participation.

I’m also interested in how these techniques can be applied to student learning in addition to professional development. The PLCMC model particularly, seems to have techniques and approaches that can be adapted to distance learning situations. Must explore this further….

5 thoughts on “It’s just the beginning

  1. Tyson says:

    I posted my extended thoughts about chat on Shauna’s blog, but basically, I agree about the annoying-ness of chat, though I’m maybe not quite as down on it as you all are. I think you’re definitely, right, though, that in a group of people who didn’t know each other so well chat would work differently. The biggest problem is simply that people come into chat with different expectations of what they want to use it for, and trying to regulate that is dangerous territory.

  2. My one hint about the 23 Things model is that participation enthusiasm can wane without continual nurturing.

  3. katzalot says:

    I am going to add fuel to the fire by also attacking the elluminate software. I agree that the chat can be distracting and I think the screen was so small that indeed there was a lot of scrolling back and forth to read. Even when moderating sometimes the comments were coming in to quickly to be able to properly address each comment. I think banning chat outright would be wrong because participants do need a way to get questions in. I think another problem is that there is no easy way to point to an object for the participants to see.

    I also like the PLCMC model and I think at the college level there are ways it could work but I wonder about its effectiveness with younger students.

  4. Naomi says:

    I agree that chat may not be so distracting with strangers. But I love the idea of using webinars for professionals to create development for their own cohort. I wonder what the right balance is.

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