Lessons learned from our hybrid workshop in Graz

grazwebinarWe ran a hybrid webinar workshop (combining on-site and online participants) at the eMOOCs 2016 conference in Graz, Austria, 22 February 2016. The aim was to discuss whether closed or restricted learning spaces could actually complement and enhance open learning in for example MOOCs (see description in earlier post).

Our plan was as follows:

  • Short introduction of presenters and the hybrid set-up. Explain how we are
    going to work together. 
  • Input 1. Open learning environments. Everything open? Is openness always best?
  • Introduction to group work. Explain how all ideas will be gathered on Padlet
    http://padlet.com/alacre/emoocs2016 .
  • Group work question 1: Limitations of openness. What are the drawbacks of
    learning in a completely open learning environment like a MOOC?
  • Feedback and comments on question 1
  • Input 2. Privacy and trust in educational groups – empathy, support, trust.  
  • Group work question 2: How can closed/restricted learning spaces
    complement openness? 
  • Feedback and comments on question 2
  • Wrap-up. Show results on Padlet wall. 


The technical set-up was based on David’s portable webinar kit, consisting of the following equipment:

Lessons learned

  • The workshop faced tough competition with three other parallel tracks all of which were highly relevant to the conference themes. As a result we only had eight participants in the room as well as around 20 online participants. We had failed to tell the organisers that our workshop was only for one session, 90 minutes whilst the programme had us down for two sessions of more than 3 hours. We heard later that many had been deterred by the prospect of such a long workshop.
  • A 90-minute workshop is probably too long for online participants who tend to log off after about an hour. Most online participants are sitting at work and simply cannot focus on a webinar for more than an hour. Maybe the conclusion is that webinars should be short and sweet.
  • Although we tried to balance our attention between the on-site and online participants there is always a risk that the on-site group get most attention since they all have audio and video “enabled”. Bringing in the online participants proved difficult this time since they relied on text rather than audio and video. Maybe there should be one dedicated online moderator and one classroom moderator with the online one constantly checking with the online group and encouraging responses.
  • When we started the group discussions the online group was rather too large and we should have used breakout groups to facilitate more open discussion, including voice and video.
  • We used a remote control camera in order to be able to easily switch between speakers in the room and even quickly zoom in on a speaker. There was a bit of a delay when moving the camera and zooming and this meant that it was sometimes hard for the online group to follow who was speaking when we sent the microphone around the classroom. Multiple cameras would have been better here so we could easily switch camera views. If online participants don’t see who is speaking they easily lose interest. Presence is a vital factor for online participants and they need to see who is speaking and feel that the on-site speakers are also addressing them.
Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 9.23.29 PM
Padlet wall from the workshop

The discussion however was very fruitful and the results are compiled on a Padlet wall that includes discussion summaries, comments from individuals, photos, link to the recorded session and so on.

Here you can see the recording of the session.


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