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Webinars for Professional Development

I have given webinars this fall using WebEx (http://try.webex.com) and Elluminate (http://www.elluminate.com/). I used WebEx during a webinar for Pearson on Alice and Media Computation, and I used Elluminate during a webinar on Greenfoot.

With both WebEx and Elluminate you use a browser to go to the url for the webinar. You have to download some software and then you are ready to be part of the webinar. With WebEx you also have to dial in to a conference call to hear and participate in the audio. With Elluminate you can use a microphone to participate in the audio and just your computer's sound card to hear the audio. With both you can have a text chat and can see the presenter's screen and powerpoints.

I found Elluminate better for the presentor. With Elluminate I could share my screen and still see the participants text chat window which made it easier to see participant's questions. And, webinars can be recorded, which means that they are available long after the actual webinar has finished. But, I don't know, though, how effective a webinar would be for longer than an hour.

Many teachers are having a hard time getting the funds to attend professional development events, so webinars might be one way to still get professional development at a low cost. And, the National Science Foundation would like to have 10,000 teachers teaching the new Advanced Placement Computer Science course currently being developed by 2015. Training that many teachers is a major logistical problem that webinars might help solve.

Have you participated in webinars? If so, what did you think of them?

Barb Ericson
CSTA Board of Directors


AS a participant, I like Elluminate much better too for some of the same reasons that Barb has mentioned.

Many districts in Ohio have completely cut out-of-district professional development funding, so it is a mystery why these types of PD haven't taken off.

How many teachers currently teach AP Comp Sci? If the NSF wants 10,000 by 2015, how much more is that?

I have participated in several Elluminate sessions over the past few years. I find it doable if the number of participants is 15 or less, but for larger numbers it becomes daunting to be an "active" participant. For me, it digresses to just listening. In which case it could just be recorded and watched at leisure.

This is the first that I've heard of any new AP CS curriculum.
Does anyone know what this will look like? Language change again? New Case Study? Combination of A and AB?

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