Project details

Webinar – for interactive and collaborative learning

Nordplus project NPAD-2014/10320

1. Partners

Flexible Education Norway (coordinator)
Linnaeus University, Sweden
Karlstad University, Sweden
Brock Online Academy, Denmark
Nám ehf. Iceland
PROJEKTkompetenz.eu, Austria (expert consultant)

2. Summary

The aim of the Webinar-ICL project is to investigate ways of developing dynamic, interactive synchronous online events and using them to build online communities. We do this by offering technical and methodological support to a number of partner organisations from different sectors in the Nordic region (eg adult education organisations and centers, local authorities, companies with distributed staff) to help them offer collaborative webinars that will benefit their operations and target audience.

By assisting a variety of organisations in organising interactive webinars we will assemble a number of case studies to be included in a toolkit that will inspire other organisations to use webinars in a more communicative and collaborative manner.

3. Project aims

The aim of the project is to make case studies on how to use webinars in practice, with different approaches, testing different tools, methods and functions. We will test our experience in real life and make analysis of best practices. It will be carried out in cooperation with several adult education organizations, institutions, local authorities and companies that want to use webinars for informal learning, to build social capital and to develop collaborative communities.

The intended outcome is a number of case studies that extend existing webinar guides with real life practice with emphasis on community and collaboration. It will show how webinars can be used for different purposes, like informal learning, building social capital, peer learning and community building (i.e. online groups, like Facebook groups, Google Hangouts.) and thus help organisations gain more from their coworkers’ input and engagement.

By assisting a variety of organisations in organising interactive webinars we will assemble a number of case studies that will inspire adult education organisations to use webinars in a more communicative manner, also for large-scale groups, pan-Nordic and to solve specific problems.

A toolkit on “webinar – for interactive and collaborative learning” will be developed.

4. Background

Webinars are becoming an increasingly popular arena for the dissemination of information, primarily in the form of online presentations to large distributed audiences. However current practice shows a tendency towards largely one-way communication, especially when the number of participants rises above thirty. This happens at a time when one-way presentations or lectures are becoming increasingly questioned as an environment for effective learning, especially in the light of the present interest in the flipped classroom model, there is great potential in “flipping the webinar” and creating an interactive collaborative arena even for large audiences. This has a great potential for adult education and informal learning.

Web conferences erase the barriers of geography and make it easy for anyone to join a virtual meeting from anywhere. The main requirements are a stable connection to the Internet and a fast computer. No special hardware is needed besides a headset and a webcam. Web conference systems offer far more flexibility and options than e.g. Skype. But they require some more effort adjusting microphones, webcams and to familiarise with the system. Furthermore an interactive and inclusive format has to be applied. Live online activities can contribute to the establishment of cross-border networks leading to new pathways of social inclusion. Webinars provide accessibility to education and culture in rural regions and e.g. for parents with children thus unfolding its gender dimension as well. Web conferences can contribute to the international dimension of education. They enhance the capacity of the target groups to embrace digital technologies for effective cooperation.

The project group members have considerable experience in webinars through initiatives such as OER Sverige, NVL Distans, the CFCR Online Conference on climate-friendly climate research and providing a webinar service for Nordic higher education institutions via NORDUNET. In these initiatives we have been experimenting with various forms of interaction such as polls, questionnaires, breakout groups and common work spaces to increase the level of participation. Pre-webinar interaction via social media can be used to generate suitable topics for discussion in the webinar and to create interest. A live online event such as a webinar can also lead to community building so that the group discussion can continue and lead to further activities. Our recent webinars have investigated the question of how effective communication in a large-scale webinar can be achieved. These then lead to a user-generated webinar as well as a successful Facebook group, Effective webinars.

5. Activities

We intend to:

  • Investigate methods of creating synchronous collaboration, brainstorming and learning through online tools such as Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts etc and combining them with other synchronous and asynchronous tools.
  • Show how to use live online events to build an online community.
  • Offer technical and methodological support to a number of partner organisations from different sectors in the Nordic region (eg adult education organisations and centres, local authorities etc.) to help them offer collaborative webinars that will benefit their operations and target audience.
  • These organisations will become pilot cases for our webinar toolkit and expertise.

6. Anchoring

This project would take place at a time when adult education institutions, the universities and many companies are looking for new ways to use the web in their teaching, training and collaboration. Collaboration with key players in the field and the creation and dissemination of the project results will most certainly come at a time when potential recipients are looking for such solutions.

  • The partners are involved in continuous education and adult education in their daily work. The outcomes of this project will be used in the daily work in each of the partner institutions.
  • The partners also work with digital methods for learning, both formal and informal, and the outcome from this project will be of great value for each of the institutions.
  • Three of the partners are involved in the Nordic Network for Adult Learning and the expert network DISTANS. In this network the partners take part in many Nordic adult education activities, like seminars, conferences, webinars, symposia, work groups and also in editorial boards etc. They will also give a number of presentations and workshops at adult education conferences. The experience and outcomes of this project will be an important input in this DISTANS/NVL work which is to continue for many years to come, and the DISTANS members will certainly disseminate the project outcome and use the webinar toolkit.

7. Results

OUTCOME

  1. A number of case studies that extend existing webinar guides with real life practice. It will show how webinars can be used for different purposes, such as informal learning, building social capital, peer learning and community building i.e. online groups, like Facebook groups, Google Hangouts etc.
  2. By assisting a variety of organisations in organising interactive webinars we will assemble a number of case studies that will inspire adult education organisations to use webinars in a more communicative manner, also for large-scale pan-Nordic groups, and to solve specific problems.
  3. A toolkit on “webinars – for interactive and collaborative learning” will be developed.

TARGET GROUPS/USERS

The pilot organizations and their employees and learners/customers will benefit from the project outcome.
Any organization in the Nordic region will benefit from the webinar toolkit/guide.
The project partner institutions will benefit from developing webinars for interactivity and collaboration and to use it further in our daily activities and work.

PRESENTATION/AVAILABILITY

The webinar toolkit/guide will be available online, presented in a way that make it suitable for printing. For the project dissemination conference and other Nordic conferences and seminars a printed version of the guide will be distributed.

CONTENT OF THE WEBINAR TOOLKIT/GUIDE

The webinar toolkit/ guide will focus on the following chapters:

  • what is a webinar
  • how to create interactivity in a webinar
  • how to collaborate in a webinar
  • how to make brainstorming sessions
  • how to make break-out sessions (different groups)
  • how to record and use the webinar after (asynchronous)
  • how to encourage participation and collaboration before and after the webinar

The toolkit will have text, illustrations and examples.

8. Dissemination

  • Dissemination conference at the end of the project period (04/2016) for all involved in adult education from the Nordic countries
  • Presentation of the outcome in a Nordic webinar (NVL webinar) for persons involved in adult education
  • Presentation of the outcome in the Nordic magazine Dialogweb – an open online magazine, mostly read by people in adult educatio
  • Presentation of the toolkit in the Norwegian magazine on flexible education, Synkron, 1800 subscribers in flexible and adult education
  • Presentation of the toolkit in the FuN conference November 2016, about 150 participants, professionals in flexible and adult education
  • Presentation in Nordic or European conferences, i.e. EDEN 2016, 400 participants, and about 100 from the Nordic region
    Presentation on the partners’ web sites

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