There are many articles on webconferencing and a lot of schools & institutions of Higher Ed have already jumped in and started using webinars to provide training to faculty. If you haven’t yet made the jump here are a few considerations that may encourage you.
8 Vital Tips for Teaching Faculty Using Webinars:
A Strategy for Professional Development Sucess!
1. The Strategic Advantage of Webinars. Webinars can build relationships with faculty/customers/clients, increase your name recognition, establish your expertise, communicate important changes, and can attract (or keep) your customers (in this case faculty and students).
2. Consider the Costs. A few cost considerations include staff time, presentation development time, marketing time and presentation materials as well as the cost for the webconferencing tool if applicable.
3. Choose a Tool. There are a variety of tools. Be sure and choose a tool that will serve your purposes and work well for your situation. If you have an LMS, I’d suggest using a tool that easily works within it. We use Blackboard Collaborate. However, there are also a variety of free options. Here is a list of 10 Free Webconferencing tools.
4. What to Present. This is one of the most important keys to consider. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Why would they want to spend an hour of their time (yes it should only be an hour) sitting at their computer watching your webinar? I would make a list (and ask those around you to help) that includes a variety of different topic options. Then most importantly, send a survey out to your faculty and ask them what topics THEY feel are needed.
Also consider checking out what other similar institutions are doing for their webinar series. This information is often on their website. This will help you to get some ideas of what types of topics you should present. Make a good list of webinar topics.
Here are just a few topic examples: What’s New in Blackboard 9.1?, How to Use the Gradebook Tool, How to Present Engaging Webinars, Innovative Topics with Faculty, Mobile Learning, Best practice for Teaching Online, Best Practice for Developing Online Courses, Webtools, etc. The key is to make the topics relevant to what your faculty need or want to learn. Remember your trying to convince them that they shoudl give up their hour for your webinar. Make it worth their while!
5. Survey Your Faculty. Before you put in stone what you will present, create a simple survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey. List all of the webinar options you and your team have brainstormed and be sure to have an “other” category so faculty can type in their suggestions as well. This will help ensure that webinars presented are in step with faculty needs.
4. When to Present. Consider the semester timeframe. One of the great advantages of webinars is that you can present them at key points when faculty need them with just-in-time training. At the begining of the semester, faculty may benefit from a refresher on best practices for teaching or a review on how to use the grade book. At the end of the semester, a good review on how to develop study guides for students or final exam procedures may be helpful. Consider holidays, busy times, etc when planning your calendar. You will want a calendar on your website complete with all the webinars clearly marked and a simple registration system (or email if you have no other option) so that you have an idea of which and how many faculty plan to attend.
5. The Process. After you know what and when you will present there are three steps to the basic process a) Invitations – client list, prospect list, newsletter link, link on your website, etc b) Deliver the content – Webinar on relevant topic w/ knowledgeable speakers c) Follow up with a survey and a link to the archive or handouts (whitepapers, docs, etc).
6. Creating an Audience. Email is a great tool to contact your participants. Create a marketing email promoting your webinar and send it to existing or potential clients/faculty. Encourage invitees to forward the invitation onto other colleagues. Place a link on your website and put it in your newsletter along with links to the registration page, previously archived (recorded) webinars, and to the master webinar calendar. If you have a marketing team, leverage other marketing options that you have available. Remember, if faculty don’t know about your webinar they will not attend. 😉
7. Best Practice for Presenting a Webinar. Always be sure and practice a run through of your presentation prior to going live. Make it engaging and interactive (not just a one way presentation). Have participants ask questions and encourage interaction through the use of poll questions, annotative tools, etc. Its also good to have one person be a moderator who welcomes the participants, checks their audio, answers questions, and introduces the speaker. Here is a link to some tips and best practices for presenting in a webinar.
8. Don’t Forget to Archive! Whenever you do a presentation, be sure and save an archive of the presentation. Its likely that some of the registered participants will be unable to attend and its nice to forward them a message containing a link to the archive after the webinar. This also begins to establish a library of presentations that your faculty can refer to in the future (if you place a link to them on your site). Archiving is also good because as a presenter you can watch yourself and think about what went well and what didn’t for future improvement.
What other tips do you have for using webconferencing to teach faculty? Do you use a web conferencing tool for professional development at your institution? What have you found to be most effective?