Webinars and #TwitterChats

Real-time and Live Virtual Professional Development

October 21, 2013 – In our EdTech 543 course on network learning, we were asked to participate in four live webinars and four twitter chats. The webinars that I participated in were about (a) volunteer interviewing strategies (from Volunteer Match), building positive teams (from Jon Gordon), managed hosting basics (from Blackboard), and something rather useless about Acrobat XI (from Adobe). The Twitter chats that I participated in were related to the positive team building webinar, a discovery I made about online plant pathology resources (a former course of study in graduate school), some promo for my new Flickr stream, and a little plug for Adobe’s Photoshop Touch app.

Even though I’ve only recently participated in the webinar about volunteer interviewing strategies, the presentation has already been helpful in my current employment with the Boy Scouts of America. Because the discussion and content presented in the webinar were basic, I didn’t have much to contribute while the webinar was underway, however, as time has passed, the concepts presented are having a noticeable impact on my approach to my work with volunteers in our council.

The most rewarding webinar that I participated in was the presentation by Jon Gordon on building positive teams in the workplace. I won’t comment publicly on the status of our team, but I was very inspired by Jon’s discussion of the five C’s of building a positive team. In this webinar, I learned to use Twitter and TweetDeck as a means of communicating insights. As a side benefit, one of my insights was retweeted by another Twitter user with over 11,000 followers. Nothing has come of it, but it was nice to be noticed.

The Blackboard webinar was my first splash in learning about the workings of an LMS. I assume that the day will come when it will be good for me to know how to manage online learning platforms, so I joined the discussion and “got my feet wet”. Without a hands-on background in managing an LMS, however, I was able to participate at only a marginal level. Still, it was a first exposure and has me curious to learn more.

Sadly enough, the fourth webinar was a colossal waste of my time. Perhaps there was a technical issue with my Internet connection or perhaps I was merely expecting something other than what the moderator intended to deliver, but either way, it was rather useless. I signed up for an Adobe Connect webinar on Acrobat XI, thinking that I might pick up a few useful tricks and insights into maximizing the potential of this software in our office. What I received was a handful of PDF downloads, a four-question poll, two user-posted questions in a chat box (which were answered in the first five minutes of the webinar), and a good-bye note from the moderator (at the five-minute mark). There was never an audio sound (though I tested the sound multiple times and emailed a person named Lisa over the course of the next half-hour thinking there was a verbal presentation underway and hoping she could help me open it) and there was no opportunity for interaction. Again, perhaps this was just a difference in expectation, a VOIP malfunction, or an ID-10-T error on my part, but this was the most useless webinar that I have ever logged into.

A fifth webinar from a picture hosting service about using their product to jump start a photography business ended (actually, it never began) with a handful of late email messages about the cancellation of the webinar due to illness. I’m not sure if I was the only one to send an email asking about the no-show, but I received three responses within about 10 minutes. Why the company didn’t send that information 10 minutes before the webinar instead of 15 minutes after it was supposed to begin, I don’t know (the presenter had been gone all day), but at least they replied and invited me to attend an upcoming presentation.

Finally, a word about Twitter chats. I can see the potential for personal interaction with other people on Twitter, but most of the chats that I was able to observe (even when I didn’t participate), didn’t show signs of much interaction other than making comments with similar hashtags and occasionally retweeting a post (my answer to the real estate agent–see below–was just favorited). Is there usually more to a Twitter chat than this? In that spirit, I tweeted insights gained from the #positiveteam presentation, shared a few resources I found for plant pathology, gave a plug for one of my sets in my new Flickr stream, and tried to give an answer to a real estate agent in search of photo editing apps for iPad.

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