Running a webinar without internet

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Offline group in Brussels

Our webinar workshop at the LINQ 2015 conference in Brussels didn’t quite go as planned, at least not for those of us who were in Brussels. You can read in a previous post about the schedule and set-up but basically the idea was to run a collaborative workshop with participants both on-site and online and produce a summary of the discussions on a public Padlet wall.

I thought I had prepared well and had the necessary equipment but when I started preparing the room for the workshop one rather essential element was missing – internet. The fixed connection didn’t work and the wifi offered very little bandwidth. Despite the efforts of the conference IT guy the connection was simply not good enough to run a webinar. We could just about hear and see the online group but we couldn’t communicate. I had alerted my project colleagues and they took over leading the webinar at very short notice. The online workshop began on time but in Brussels we were already running late so the on-site group didn’t arrive from the coffee break until 15 minutes into the webinar. This meant that they had missed the introduction and necessary input so I decided that we would continue offline and leave the online workshop to proceed without us.

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Our Padlet wall with comments, notes, slideshows etc

When nothing goes as planned you need to improvise quickly so I made an introductory presentation and moved on to an open discussion on what factors can make webinars more participatory. Since the classroom group was small there was no need to divide them into groups so we simply brainstormed ideas together with a volunteer secretary making notes. The participants were from Lithuania, Spain, Greece and the UK and had varying experience of webinars. The discussion was lively and we collected a lot of good ideas.

We may have worked offline but at the end of the workshop we were able to upload our notes and a photo of ourselves to the workshop’s Padlet page where the online participants had been working. As a result we were able to contribute to the workshop without having been actively involved in it. Have a look at the results and see if you agree.

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