Participating in BFS webinars

Adult Learning Australia has been supporting the BFS project by conducting a series of webinars that have been specifically designed for the BFS volunteer tutors. You can register your interest in participating by checking out the Upcoming Webinar Sessions. Or you can listen to past Recorded Webinar Sessions.

Webinars are a great new learning and presenting method and the next best thing to attending an actual face to face training session. All FREE, within the comfort of your home or kiosk and without having to travel! All you need is an internet connected computer. For sound you are best to have a headset with a boom microphone although the microphone and speakers in most laptops will also work fine. Of course there are new buzz words too: A 'Moderator' is the presenter of the training material and there may be several moderators. 'Participants' are all the people receiving the training. A 'Room' describes the virtual space that the training session is held in.

We use Blackboard Collaborate (BbC) web conferencing for our Broadband for Seniors online sessions. More details about BbC can be found on the Blackboard Collaborate website.

Preparing for your BFS Webinar

Here are some helpful resources that you should read before you join your first webinar.

  • Joining your first Blackboard Collaborate session is a simple 2 page document to assist the first time participant at a BbC session. It simply explains the process of getting started.
  • Blackboard Collaborate V11 User Interface is a simple 1 page document showing the different parts of the BbC panels. Could be a handy printout for first time participants.
  • Getting Started for Participants Quick Reference Guide is a 2 page document intended for participants. It explains in more detail than the simple 1 page document above.
  • Introduction to the Participants Panel Quick Reference Guide is a 4 page document showing more detail about the panels and what the small icons mean. It also explains the difference between the moderator and participant permissions. Useful for both participants and moderators
  • Below is a short, 2 min, video that explains the process of starting BbC. Just be aware that the actual start up of a BbC session may take 1-2 minutes as it depends on the speed of your internet connection. Its really all pretty straightforward. (Note: When you register for an actual BFS webinar session, you will get sent an email with a link in it for joining the session. You can always click the link at anytime if you want to see the whole start up procedure, or to test your sound system.)
  • This is another detailed video explaining getting set up for a Blackboard Collaborate session

Moderating (Presenting) a BFS Webinar

Here are some documents that moderators (and 'thinking about it' people) might find useful. Moderating a session is just like presenting a normal face to face training session except your not confronted by a sea of eyes, you don't have to dress up, you sit down the whole time and participants would have to travel a long way to tar and feather you! It's really a very rewarding experience, just like tutoring, where you get to share your knowledge, put a smile on others faces, and learn some new stuff yourself.

Organising a Web Conferencing Session

[Contributed by michael chalk, 7Sept12]

Sometimes, half the challenge is in attracting an audience, and making sure they can get into the session.

  • How do you publicise your session?
  • What support do you give participants?
  • What information do they need?

Here at Adult Learning Australia, we try to offer phone support for first-time users, an hour before the session. We might point them to this page with its introductory materials, and create a few messages aimed at engaging folk to anticipate the session.

  1. Have a registration page online, describing the session. If possible with a registration form. (You might use Survey Monkey or Google Forms for this.)
  2. Send out a confirmation email.
  3. If the session is in 'Blackboard Collaborate' make sure you send the participant link through (not the moderator link).
  4. Closer to the date, send either a text message or another email.
  5. Be ready to offer phone support on the day if you can (this is asking a lot though).
  6. Overall be clear about what you're offering in terms of support, and have a plan for publicising the event.
  7. Be ready to spend 30 minutes before the session helping people get their audio and connection set up.

Here's what we might write in a welcoming / confirmation email for a Blackboard Collaborate session, for example:

[Email message]

Join the session via this link: [include link here]

You'll need internet access and a headset with microphone.

If you run into trouble, Blackboard has a support centre here However this shortcut will hopefully take you direct to the "first time users" page:

Plus you might try one of the recordings of our previous Broadband for Seniors (BFS) webinar sessions, available from this page:

When you log in, some web browsers make you save the little "meeting.jnlp" file from the login/recording page. Others will run it straight off (using "java web start").

[/ email message]

More about skills in facilitating live web conferencing events

Here's a document which explores the range of skills involved in facilitating a web conferencing event [direct link here, in google docs].

Let's see if we can embed the document in this page too:

Troubleshooting Blackboard Collaborate

You've been waiting to attend a BFS webinar session. The day arrives and much to your distress, you find you can't access the room.

Common issues and tips

Here are some common issues encountered by BFS webinar users.

If you are experiencing difficulties with launching Blackboard Collaborate in Windows 8 – check out this information: