A recent question came up on our Oz Teachers mailing list re which webinar platform could be or should be used for national online professional learning. Following is my response:-
One tool will rarely suit all scenarios. Many factors affect the choice. Teaching and living in a remote rural area of Victoria, I personally feel that it is important to choose a tool that is accessible for people who experience low bandwidth.
Some considerations when choosing a platform are as follows. Does it allow:-
- shared presentations
- individual logins, number of logins
- bandwidth -ability to manually pull back bandwidth so anyone from anywhere can participate
- ability to record sessions and share recording
- interactivity from participants – chat, interactive whiteboard, polling, breakout rooms for small group discussions, sharing emoticons
- ease of use and logging on
- use chat, voice, video etc
- ability to share screens
- can files be sent through the medium?
- Moderating abilities and potential need to control the participants
- The use of any device – fixed devices, a variety of platforms, mobile devices etc
- And is there a cost
Having used a variety of webinar platforms over the last 4 or 5 years, blackboard collaborate is still my favourite. I use it weekly for Tech Talk Tuesday webinars where participants from across all states and many countries of the globe, including Nepal and Indonesia, have attended. This includes participants from state and government schools, community groups and government departments. There will be problems at times with sites being blocked in individual institutions, or proxy setting issues– all of which are fixable with technical support and permission
Webinar tools that I have used include-
Tools that are free, or have a free element :-
- Skype premium: free for teachers
- Google hangouts: – free: very heavy on bandwidth and almost unusable for me when I am at home. Can be blocked in many schools.
- Gotomeeting etc
Tools that cost:
- Blackboard Collaborate – Victorian Education Department has purchased a statewide license for teachers in both state and private schools to use for educational purposes: classes, online meetings and professional development.
- DiscoverE – built specifically for low bandwidth areas
- Adobe Connect etc
- MS Lync: available for Victorian Educators to use with a Department of Education license
What platforms have you use? Which have you had issues with? Were they resolvesd? What do you look for as either a presenter of participant in online professional learning?