There’s a first time for everything

Today I gave my first webinar for the first Macmillan Online Conference. And it was a fascinating experience. (Click on the image to see the links for the slideshow – I’ll be adding the recording once it’s online).

I was surprised by how nervous I felt beforehand, but then I guess it was like most firsts, your first class, first conference presentation, first time you meet your partner’s family …

But I was even more surprised by how comfortable I soon felt in my new “classroom”. Thanks to everyone who was there for creating such a great atmosphere.  The combination of voice and text is strange to start with, but it didn’t feel like I was talking to a void. There was a definite sense of an “audience”, lots of feedback and interaction. The chat in the five or ten minutes before we started really helped to put me at my ease, and the hour flew by!

There are a couple of things I wish I’d done differently – or better, things I’d like to be able to do next time (and I’m already looking forward to a next time!).

I wanted to be able to use  the virtual pointer, marker and highlighter, but I found that I was already juggling enough with the slides, the commentary and trying to keep my eye on the back channel chat.   I’ll work on that for next time.

The slideshow I’d prepared had simple animation features – nothing fancy, just revealing bullet points one by one rather than as a complete list. I didn’t realise this feature wasn’t going to work in Blackboard Collaborate.  I guess I’d cater for that next time.  I think it might have made it easier to follow the flow, keep everyone on track.

There were things I enjoyed doing – being able to pick up on and incorporate comments from the text chat – comments that enhanced and improved my word cloud for example.  I liked being able to handle the pile of books at my side, show them to the webcam, read out of them.  I wish there’d been more time for more examples, and more books!

There was one thing that I really wish I’d thought through more carefully.  I wish I’d set up a turn-taking system for the questions and comments at the end (raising your hands for example and then taking it in turns to write your questions).  I know I missed a lot.  I’m really sorry if your questions and queries went unanswered. I also wish I’d set up a forum – like this blog page – beforehand where people with questions could have gone to there and then, where we could have continued the conversation and I could have had a chance to pick up on more of the points that were being made, clarify things that maybe weren’t so clear.

So, anyway – a little late I’m afraid, but here is the “forum”.  And to kick it off I’m going to add a couple of questions and comments that came through to me by twitter and email shortly after we closed the session.

From Dan, in Cadiz. We’ve been working together on  audio worksheets for readers for Onestopenglish recently and have been chatting about reading, and extensive reading in particular, over coffees for some time:

I had a thought about extensive reading in class during the webinar that might be worth mentioning. I’ve always been very against ‘extensive listening’ in the classroom (in the form of movies) as it seems a waste of valuable lesson time to just stick a DVD on or whatever. Why don’t I feel the same about reading? A student (or more likely a head of studies) might argue that if a student wants to read, they can do it at home. I know that the answer is to see any reading we do in class as a means of encouraging more home reading, and that extensive reading needn’t take more than 5 minutes, but I still think it’s a question for the mix.

An interesting thought – one I’m going to mull over and leave for the “forum” for the moment.

and another question from Edith in San Sebastian on twitter:

 I wanted 2 ask abt allowing 4 “choice” but w/in a “theme” (e.g. vampire stories) so U cn draw comparisions. wht do U think?

This was my initial reply:

sounds great – I’ve worked on short story collections with Macmillan that group authentic stories by theme – horror, SF, love … seems to be popular – it’s easy to pick out common threads like atmosphere, setting etc

What do you think?

Whether you were there, or maybe you’ve seen the slideshow, or maybe you just fancy joining in, please use the comment box to ask questions, leave replies, make comments, or extend the webinar conversation in any way you want.

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10 Responses to There’s a first time for everything

  1. seburnt says:

    I’m sorry I was occupied at the time (I missed Julia William’s webinar today too) and couldn’t attend. For me, I almost never look at the chat box during my presentation. It distracts me too much from what I’m saying and there are times when I’ve talked for a while that I wonder if I’m still making sense. Likely, the chat box would be helpful to confirm I am. I definitely need to work on that side of multi-tasking during webinars. In any case, welcome to the club!

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Thank you Ty!
      I really liked being able to use the chat box for brainstorming and getting responses from everyone out there.
      In face to face workshops I really like to hear the buzz of voices and contributions from the floor. The chat box kind of substitutes that – am going to work on placing it somewhere a little more obvious next time 🙂

  2. I can’t believe I missed it! I saw Lindsay Clandfield’s talk on Tuesday and I was definitely going to make your talk too – and I just remembered about it this morning, one day too late! Nevermind, I’ll watch the video when its uploaded. See you on Saturday!

  3. It sounds like you learned a lot from your own webinar and that there will be many more to come!
    Way to go!

  4. Hello, unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the webinar, but thanks for the slides, they look incredible and I’m really looking forward to watching your video as soon as it’s uploaded.

  5. Katie says:

    Hi Ceri,

    Sorry I missed the webinar! Loved the ppt and ideas! Just saw the post on your facebook profile… Funnily enough, I was going to post a small comment letting you know that I’m reading the Macmillan “Crime stories” for a reading club I’ve been organizing for some of my adult students. 🙂 What a coincidence! Enjoying it lots! Let us know when the next webinar is! xx

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Katie,
      Nice to *see* you here 🙂
      You’ve reminded me that I need to add a link to the recording!
      I’d love to hear more about the reading club .. maybe in the new year?
      Have a great holiday!

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