Archive for the ‘webinars’ Category

Webinars on Location

April 7, 2018

pro-webcam-ultra-wide-angleThis school year we’ve started a monthly webinar series called “Schoology Stars” that features power users and creators on our Learning Management System(LMS).  Usually I co-host the webinars from my central office building.  But we decided to change things up and assemble a panel of teachers and bring the webinar to them.  It meant packing up some equipment and being creative with the setup but it was worth it.  We had the highest attendance of the webinar series so far and the energy of a professional panel certainly helped.

For my fellow techies I’ll give you the details of the setup, including some make/model info on the equipment I used.  The library that you see in this panel photo Schoology Stars Panel at South

was not the first choice for a location.  The first choice that was suggested for us to use was a computer lab in the basement that had inferior lighting (for a camera) and a noisy ventilation system.  The library, in contrast, turned out to be perfect for lighting, sound, and a very appropriate background/backdrop for teachers.  In the photo above you’ll also see my webcam (Logitech HD C920) attached to a library cart with a gorillapod and some duct tape to keep the camera angle constant.  On the table are 4 Shure microphones on table top stands.  These were connected to my Alesis Multimix 8 usb mixer-seen below:IMG_0360

The mixer connected to my Mac and then the Zoom webinar software we used.

Now one of the problems we had to solve for was how these five teachers and panel host were going to share the screen views of their online courses in Schoology.  The solution was for our panel host to use her computer, have each teacher’s course open in a browser tab and then project it on a screen facing them so they could see what we were sharing to the virtual audience.  This is what is looked like from the panel perspective:IMG_0366

Also in the right side of this photo are other staff members who came with me to help with setup, monitor the broadcast and during the webinar check the chat and pass messages and audience questions to the panel host.

BTW, you might wonder where the students were.  Well, this was a professional day for teachers (known at DPS at Teal Days) and so the date was perfect for teachers to attend in person and online.

How about you?  Ever hosted a webinar like this?  Any tips to share?

Google App Rescue

November 7, 2017

google app GMy coworkers came to me with a problem: We needed to host four webinars for school principals but had limited space in each.  Could I find a way (with minimal work and communication to leaders) to limit registration?  Google apps came to my rescue, or rather I went to Google apps for my rescue-I was in the driver seat after all.

The first thing I did was create a Google doc explaining the process to sign up and showing the dates and times for the webinars to choose from:

initial google doc without links

Then I created a separate Google form for each date and time.  I used the copy feature to save time in producing four of them.  On the Google doc I linked to the corresponding form:

google doc links for dates

Back on the Google forms I installed the add-on “Form Limiter”.  On the Form Limiter I set the number of attendees I would allow in each webinar.  When the form/registration was full the person would receive a message referring them back to the Google doc to choose another date and time.  I was also notified when the limit was reached and I went back to the Google doc and eliminated that choice for future responders.

form limiter pop up settings

Voila!  It worked pretty well.  I just hope the add-on is there the next time I need it.  I’ve seen add-ons come and go on Google apps.

Would this solution work for you?  Are there other ways to solve this problem in the future?  Let me know via comments.  I’d love to hear from you.

Open to New Webinar Tools

September 14, 2017

ZoomLogoSmallIn my career I’ve tried to keep myself tool agnostic-not sticking to a single tool in my software box.  When it comes to webinars it’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Adobe Connect for all its professional features.  But this year I’ve been using two other webinar platforms for certain situation- Zoom and Big Blue Button.  I’ll share my experiences with them here.

Big Blue Button is the webinar tool that comes with our current LMS-Schoology.  I like the fact that it’s available to everyone who logs in and they can run as many webinars as they like.  I think it’s particularly useful for teachers to use as office hours or help sessions for their students.  It has a fairly intuitive interface.  The main drawbacks that I see are 1. In our version, recordings only last for 7 days and 2. The screenshare function has too many hurdles for most users to overcome (clunky plugins).

I’ve used Zoom webinars in several different settings.  For a large scale meeting with almost 200 principals we bought a large webinar subscription.  For smaller meetings, 8-20 people, I’ve used their (mostly) free meeting version.  It has an intuitive interface and pretty good audio and video quality.  In particular I like the phone call in numbers that attendees can use for audio only.  I also really like how attendees can adjust the windows/frames to personalize their experience.  The main drawbacks is that it doesn’t let me load and share files ahead of time like the way I setup a lobby room in Adobe Connect.  I hope to figure out a workaround in Zoom for this function.

So, with these additional tools now at my disposal I meet with people planning webinars and discuss their specific needs/objectives.  After that needs assessment I will choose/recommend the webinar tool that best fits the wishes of the users and try not to play favorites.