Saturday, October 11, 2014

Start to Finish DIY Webinar

Having watched and analyzed a webinar it was time to do my own.

I have attended a few webinars and presented two of them. I have given presentations that were live streamed for virtual conference attendees. Also, I am familiar with the process of planning and giving presentations and workshops. The experience of presenting via webinar is unique. You have an unseen but interactive audience. Putting this together takes more work than I realized. This week I had the chance to do it all myself. 

This week I tried to do it all myself. I planned the presentation, wrote the script and was ready to tell the story of implementing the 20% project in a classroom. The steps that were new started with picking the service for the webinar, scheduling and promoting the event, running the technology and moderating the webinar. All of these take time and would have been easier with a team of experts.

The service I chose was This tool has has a minimum plan that is free and offers basic broadcasting, screen share, a chat window for interaction and recording capability. It was not completely intuitive, but using their help tab was useful most of the time. It does have an event scheduler to help design a flier, share the event through social networks and will allow posts to the event. Software had to be downloaded to my computer to broadcast through the service. I realized during the first test run that it would take one computer to broadcast and another to monitor the webinar and chat window.  I grabbed another lap top and set up a separate event brilliantly called Test Run, but I did not understand the each event had a unique stream name. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why Test Run was not showing a broadcast, while everything else was working just like it had the for the first test. It turned out that I spent the whole frustrating time broadcasting through my 20% project webinar stream instead of Test Run. Yikes! I hope no one saw that crazy broadcast. Fortunately the early broadcast could be deleted and I did figure out how the chat window and record worked. So the technology portion was ready to go.

I picked a time in the evening, not realizing it was opposite Scandal. I wanted enough time to plan and practice, but I also wanted to keep it during the work week and Friday night I would be at the Allen Eagle football game. (The games are Texas high school football at its best!) I created a poster and sent it out through Twitter and Facebook as well as emailing my classmates in my Master’s Degree program. I sent reminders through Twitter up until the event. I did not want to over promote myself, but perhaps I erred by under promoting.

The night of the even, I set up early, sent out another reminder of the event through Twitter and crossed my fingers. I had an audience and the broadcast went without a hitch. I asked questions that could be answered in the chat window and monitored the window for questions. I had two people attend and we had some minimal interactions towards the end. My presentation was much shorter than I expected since there were not many questions to pause to answer. The recording was much longer since I set up early and it runs the whole time. (The video below has been edited to eliminate the wait time due to early log in.)

Now that I have gone through the process alone, it could be done in the classroom. I would try a different tool such as Google Hangout so that we could actually interact with a few people as well as broadcast and record. There are enough jobs to involve an entire class with many abilities and interests in the preparation and broadcast. There would be technology hurdles and internet safety issues to address before broadcasting from a class. I do believe the experience and learning would be worth the efforts of everyone involved.

20 percent project webinar from Kathryn Lanier on Vimeo.

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