Hosting a Webinar: From Beginning to End

Copyright, Google Hangouts On Air, Intellectual Property, Learning, MAET Year 2, Personal Learning Network, Research, Tech Tools, The Bridge Webinar Series, Video, Webinar

MSU MAET The Bridge Webinar Series:

Social and Ethical Uses of Technology: A Webinar for Intellectual Property & Copyright in the Classroom

Blog post written collaboratively by 4Tech: Lauren Villaluz, Renee Jorae, Kate McCallum, Alexis Miller

What is a Webinar?

“Webinar is short for Web-based seminar, it is a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web using video conferencing software.  A key feature of a webinar is its interactive elements — the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Contrast with Webcast, in which the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience. ” according to Webopedia. It is a great way to pull together a group of experts or interested participants and have a conversation about a specific topic. Often times there is a backchannel running simultaneously or chat for participants and for attendees who watch the webinar. The backchannel provides a place for viewers of the webinar to comment, ask questions, and provide additional resources. The chat within the webinar  provides a place for the webinar participants to talk behind the scenes.

There are several webinar services to choose from for hosting a webinar.  The type of service depends on the type of webinar. provides a buying guide for how to choose the right service. If budget is an issue consider  a free hosting service.

What was our purpose for hosting a webinar?

For our MSU-MAET project, students are required to host a webinar about a key topic in educational technology.  Our team, 4Tech, hosted a webinar on July 16, 2014 at 7:00 in the evening.

Our focus was Social and Ethical Uses of Technology: A Webinar for Intellectual Property and Copyright in the Classroom. We used Google Hangouts on Air and were featured on the Michigan State University MAET webinar series “The Bridge”. For more information on the MAET Bridge webinar series go to  or follow #MAETBridge.

How to prepare for hosting a webinar?

Below is the process we went through from beginning to end to make this webinar possible, evidence/samples are provided as hyperlinks:

Webinar Preparation and Conceptualization:

Step 1 – Determine the topic

  • 4Tech was assigned: Social and Ethical Uses of Technology: A Webinar for Intellectual Property and Copyright in the Classroom

Step 2 – Create a Collaborative Document for Team Collaboration

  • We chose Google Docs as our collaborative planning tool. Our Google Doc was a work in progress and constantly changed to reflect what we were currently discussing.

Step 3 – Determine each person’s role on the team and divide responsibilities.

  • Before the first practice session, everyone created questions that they thought should be used for the webinar on the shared Google Doc.
  • BACKCHANNEL: Renee Jorae (Twitter #maetbridge), created the blog post for the 4 Tech Team to share on their MAET portfolio, researched information and create a document to use for twitter posts for each question, thus making it easier to copy and paste into Twitter as we go along. This also documents the event through Twitter. We were each required to write our own evaluations.
  • TECHNICAL SUPPORT COORDINATION and  COMMUNICATION: Lauren Villaluz, learned how Google Hangouts on Air works (Training Authors Tutorial and YouTube Video) so that the technical aspects of the webinar would run smoothly. Lauren monitored the audio and video input during the live hangout.  
  • CO- MODERATOR/PANEL EXPERT : Kate McCallum, located resources for the background knowledge for team to read to prepare for the conversation and for links to tweet out. Prepared herself for webinar conversation.

Step 4 – Get 1 – 3 “experts” and make contact to see if they are interested in participating.

  • We wanted to get various people who would provide different perspectives about copyright and fair use guidelines. Each of us contacted individuals and once they confirmed we sent an email to our team’s Technical Coordinator, Lauren. (Contact Sample)
  • Our panel of experts:
  • Adel DiOrio – St. Johns Middle School Principal (unable to attend at last minute)
  • Kyle Dunbar – Tech Integration Specialist
  • Jeremy Whiting – President of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association

Step 5 – Coordinate and scheduling the date and time of the actual  webinar and the practice sessions

  • Practice Session 1 was Tuesday, July 8 from 6:00 to 8:30. We discussed where we were at, made final preparations, determine the structure of the webinar, the order of the questions and learned the features of Google Hangouts Live.
  • Practice Session 2 was Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 6:30 to 8:30. We finalized everything possible and shared further information about the backchannel, documents, and format.
  • Online Live Webinar was Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 7:00 in the evening. Our panel of experts along with our team checked in at 6:30 and tested equipment to make sure everything worked properly.  We introduced ourselves and got acquainted, used the Google Toolbox and set our lower third (names and additional information), answered questions, and went over the format of the live webinar.

Step 6 – Develop a questionnaire to attach to the confirmation email for the participants.

  • Lauren sent the email and our questionnaire to the experts as soon as she received a confirmation email. When participants replied back she shared these with the team in our webinar folder. The questionnaire provided a brief biography of the participants and important contact information.

Step 7 –Develop the webinar abstract.

  • Our abstract was shared with participants and coordinator of the MAET Bridge, Michelle Hagerman. She then added it to  the MAET Bridge to encourage viewers to participate.

Step 8 – Develop a draft of webinar format which includes helpful webinar tips.

  • Our draft of the webinar format also included specific script for individuals as well as tips. Hint: It may be helpful for the host to use note cards or a teleprompter for introductions and questions so they are looking up and not down at their notes. ipad works good for this with a teleprompter app.

Step 9 –Determine the best way to handle the backchannel.

  • Renee is responsible for #maetbridge on Twitter; posting comments, updates from the webinar, and providing links to resources. She has prepared a resource ahead of time with shorten URL’s and possible Titter Posts for 4Tech to add to if they find more resources.
  • Renee will communicate the Twitter feed questions to our panel using the chat feature within Google Hangouts Live during the webinar so they can answer questions as we go if they so choose. The panel could also answer the questions in the last 10 minutes if any are left.
  •  Renee will use the Titanpad to document what is going on in the chat when participants post resources or answer questions. She will also use it for the Q and A part of Twitter. This may not get done during the live Webinar. The purpose of the Titanpad (previously Etherpad) was to documents questions of viewers and the panel, then provide a place where anyone can provide answers as well. If a question is not answered during the webinar our team needs to find the answer or a resource and put it on the Titanpad. The Titanpad was embedded at  under our webinar session. Our TITANPAD LINK – . Note that Renee put information on the Titanpad before the webinar session.
  • Renee will send an email to MAET Bridge Instructor Support  providing the Titan Pad Link (Rohit)
  • For a good example of how to use Titanpad in conjunction with a webinar, visit the Teachers Teaching Teachers TitanPad

Step 10 – Invite other participants to join in online

Step 11 – Share MAET Bridge blog post with coordinator.

Step 12 – Look at the technical aspects of how to add the Bridge YouTube Intro to our webinar.

Step 13 – Make a shared Google Doc blog post for class for our MAET course 815.

What happens during a webinar?

The 4 Tech webinar ran quite successfully with minor issues. This can be greatly contributed to the practice sessions we conducted which supported us in determining technology issues and finding solutions to them. Our tech expert, Lauren Villaluz, did a phenomenal job ensuring that the webinar ran smoothly. Renee Jorae, our backchannel moderator, kept us well informed of our audiences thoughts throughout the webinar.

The webinar took on a great conversational feel as participants were able to add in their knowledge, expertise, and experience. The main topics of conversation were:

– What is copyright?

– What is fair use?

– What are resources for educators and students?

– What are common misconceptions educators have about copyright?

– Ways to best educate students about copyright?

Throughout the webinar we uncovered that there is a lot of gray area when it comes to copyright and fair use, but that explicitly teaching copyright will ultimately lead to increased creativity and increased awareness over copyright laws. In addition to explicitly teaching copyright it is essential, as educators, to model fair use and copyright.

Another important element of the discussion was expressing that staff and administrators need to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with copyright and fair use. In order to be on the same page it is important that the misconceptions and misunderstandings are addressed – for example, fair use does not mean that anything goes.

Together the panel put together numerous resources that can be useful to teach about copyright laws and be used to avoid breaking copyright. Despite copyright and fair use being a gray area there are many resources to support the public.

How to Wrap Up the Webinar?

Step 14 – Complete the blog post for the MAET program.

Step 15 – Update the Titan Pad for a record.

Step 16 – Copy all conversations as evidence for Coursework.

Step 18 – Create a public document for anyone to add resources to.

Step 19 – Send out thank you’s and link to panel experts and wrap up.

Step 20 – Breathe and Enjoy!

Personal Reflection

Previously having the opportunity to be a contributor to a webinar on the MAET program, I was excited to have the opportunity to put together a webinar from start to finish. When determining roles, I wanted to have knowledge about the technical side of hosting a live webinar via Google Hangouts On Air so that I can potentially host future webinars or help other teachers or administrators create content via Google Hangouts. So I took on the role of Technological Coordinator for our webinar. Preparing for the role proved to be a bit of a challenge, as the only way to play with the controls and tools authentically is to actually host a Google Hangout On Air. As a result, the group scheduled multiple practice sessions so I could play with the control room settings where I discovered how to adjust everyone’s individual volume and appearance on screen.

The webinar itself as prepared as I could be was a bit more stressful than I anticipated. One of our invited guests was on vacation and was receiving error messages when being invited to the Google Hangout on Air. I had prepared for this and sent her some resources for resolving common Hangout errors but none of them were able to resolve her issue. So she was able to access the Hangout via her smart phone but that left her with an obvious echo every time someone else spoke. We tried troubleshooting by having her insert headphones but that took away her ability to speak because of the multi-use headphone/mic jack. So, in the end we settled on having her just mute her mic whenever she was not speaking and I helped monitor that as we went along.

Also, although we had practiced, I did not realize the lag time in switching from the Chat application within Google Hangout On Air and the Control Room application. Both applications can not be displayed simultaneously so if I was reading a message in the Chat app and something went wrong with someone’s sound, there was a delay in my ability to fix it as I closed out Chat app and opened the Control Room app. For future purposes, I know that if the host is expected to be monitoring the Control Room then there needs to be another form of contact like via text message to communicate important information to the host so there is no switching back and forth.

The webinar flew by and focusing on the technical aspects made it a bit difficult to keep up with all of the wonderful content being shared. I will admit to having to watch the archived webinar so that I could fully grasp what was discussed since I was multitasking during live webinar. I have a new respect for all the roles involved in hosting a webinar and now have a new respect for people who host a webinar with less than four people! Our group agreed that it would have been difficult with one less person! I really appreciated The MAET Bridge Webinar Series allowing us to be the guest hosts for the month of July. Overall, I think this was a great experience and I look forward to hosting, participating and viewing in many more future webinars on great topics.