Time is needed for interaction in a webinar

Time is needed to get the experience experienced

Last week I was participant and break-out group leader in a webinar of ONL162. The webinar was about the very interesting topic “Openness in Education”.

As a expert in online & synchronous sessions for working and education (XWebinar.nl and Dyhme.com) and as a great fan and participant of the #ONL experiences – I am now for the third time involved into the course- I want to share my personal experiences and thoughts about this online event.

When the webinar finished I had the feeling I had fallen out a carousel. By private chat I posted some words to the presenter: “it was a little bit too much, I think”.

What makes a webinar or any online and synchronous session a great experience for participants? Is it engagement? Or is it involvement?

There was a great presenter. He was bringing us in the right mood to start. He was energizing us and make it feel like we were going to make a trip to the fair. He was involving us into the topic in an very clear way. He is great and rare.

He was inviting us to put our comments and questions in the chat and to react on polls. He’s really capable of letting us feel that our comments and questions are appreciated. So there is a lot of activity. So far so good.

And then Presenter nr. 2 was taken over. We had to get used to his voice, because his audio was terrible and his English was as bad as mine, but he spoke slowly so I could get the message.

He gives us the KAHOOT experience. It is an online tool for doing a poll, with a lot of colors. You can vote by smartphone or another device. We had to fill in some multiple choices. I didn’t won because I was too slow. I realized that I had to look over some learning materials because I did not understand or reproduce some important things. Great tool-experience.

And then… Breakout group time…

A breakout group is a feature in Adobe Connect software to work in smaller groups.

The aim was to discuss in breakout groups some things about “Openness of education”. But what was happened with our great posts on the Padlet we had made in advance? I was confused… instead of that great and colorful Padlet we saw a mindmap. See the differences below.

Padlet :



So someone has been very busy to compose something very impressive but not recognizable and not understandable for the original authors, the participants of this webinar.

When I saw the mind map I needed time to detect where my contribution on the Padlet was located and which relations the composer had been made on my thoughts. (enhance democracy)

I didn’t get the change to look quit well because the show went on. Holadieee, with a lot of engagement. But I lost my involvement because they murdered my very important post on the Padlet… Take a deep breath and go on…

I could read very fast the instruction on the Notes pad to get the most important information, but I did not hear what the presenter was talking about, because I can only read or only listen but not both of them in the same time

Then suddenly, with a great Star Wars effect we were put into the breakout groups. As an experienced Adobe Connect user I know what is happening when the presenter push the button. But most of the participants are not used to getting beamed around. I saw a lot of scared faces in the webcams. Serious faces…… nearly anxious… confusing anyway…

My task was to be the leader of this break out group, to ask if someone wanted to make notes and to initiate the discussion.

This was the moment were I wanted to be myself as a professional facilitator for online & interactive groups. Because…

But I wanted to tranquilize them, to make them a little more comfortable, to encourage them…

I felt that the most participants in my break out group were not able to participate in an discussion about “Openness in Education”. Professor Gilly Salmon was in my head: She said” first they have to know how to use the tools, than socialize, then go on with the content. Otherwise, they get lost. I recognize these words in my professional live and I always be aware of the group process instead of being busy with the content.

So I first let my group members get to used to my voice… bladiebladiebla. Then I asked if someone wanted to makes notes… no one… so that was it. Then I had to invite people to talk about things on the mind map they did not recognize… So in my most friendly and creative way I tried to formulate a clear question and I named someone to ask for a reaction. Sorry… sorry.. sorry… that was a little bit rude. The second time I saw there was someone I know, so she get my question. And in 5 minutes we had collected three points with concerns about Openness in Education. There was zero added value  by this discussion of the topic, it was just an experience.

Then we were beamed up and started the third topic in the webinar. I felt lost, confused, disappointed and sad.

The learning moments:


When people do not react, not interact, staying silent, are not eager to make notes…then something is wrong. Most of the time they do not understand what is happening and what we do expect from them.

  1. Plan one hour for a group discussion.
  2. Start the session with an introduction who is who, the communication rules, the topic, the context, the tools (breakout group), the timeline. 15 min
  3. Start Break-outs, repeat the communication rules, introduction of the participants by using mic, webcam, chat, notes, desktop sharing (socializing and skills) 15 min
  4. Introducing the aim of the topic, discuss the way we work. Divide the roles. Discuss in chat pod. 30 min (with no experienced participants)

Make time to get familiar with the tools and the rules (Open the mic, open the webcam, how to ask the floor, when to react in the chat), then socialize (Who is the lady who is taking the floor? what did we put on the Padlet?, from which perspective? who are we? What is interesting for us?) and then choose some points for discussion.

Time is needed for participants to think, to look, to feel, to formulate their thoughts, to exercise, to get the experience experienced…

Padlet, preparation of the webinar

The Padlet of the webinar was great. A lot of participants of the ONL course had put notes on it. These notes were ingredients for interesting discussions. The Padlet was a great source. Participants had put a lot of effort in it. Why was it changed into a Mindmap with abstract words without context?

As a webinar presenter or host, put yourself in the role as a participant. You could have shared the Padlet in the webinar.

Tips for working with the Padlet:

  1. As a presenter choose some notes from the Padlet. Give every group three notes to discuss. When participants have no experiences in breakout groups, use the chat pod instead of microphones. The group leader has to know in advance which notes are going to discuss into the group so he/she can prepare questions.
  2. If you want the group to choose the notes they want to discuss, the group need time to read, to choose for themselves and to discuss what notes is worth to discuss… I think that take half a day… so maybe:
  3. You can also distract some theorems from the Padlet notes. Distribute these over the breakout groups and do a chat discussion in the break-out groups.

If you want a group discussion with microphone, then organize it. This is an example:

  • Use the theorems from the Padlet notes
  • Put the first theorem on a Adobe Connect Note (or PPT)
  • The aim is to collect a wide range of pro’s and con’s
  • Explain that everyone can add new pro’s and con’s. It is a group process, so it is not important who is adding wha
  • Let participants think for some minutes about the theorem.
  • Participants get the floor and when they have given their con or pro, they give the floor to someone else. Between the talks there is a pause as long as the speaker has spoken to think about what was said and what was new.
  • The Pro’s and con’s can be noted on a Note pad.
  • Then go to the second theorem.
  • Participants will get used to creative thinking and being authentic

 Why Chat-discussion?

A chat discussion is a way of involving everyone. Participants can think and formulate their thoughts at the same time. They can read the texts in the chat when they want. When they are personally ready for it. They can think it over. Let it be inspiring for further thoughts. It is a very personal group activity.

When someone is talking in a microphone, you have to listen. Is is not easy to listen and to formulate your own thoughts at the same time. So if you want to discuss by using the microphone. Don’t react immediately. Make a rule that you first get time to think.

Time is needed to get the experience experienced.

Francisca Frenks



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