8 Vital Tips for Teaching Faculty Using Webinars!

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.

Webinar

 

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?

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter

I used to wonder why someone would want to get on Twitter when there was Facebook. It seemed to be an unnecessary duplication of what I was already doing. But then… It happened!

At the ISTE2011 Conference I started meeting some amazing people. Now its kind of awkward to ask someone you barely know for their email adress and even if you did, you may not feel comfortable contacting them very often. But after hearing some of the presenters mention they were on Twitter I decided the time had come and I was finally going to try it out. “After all, I’m into Technology, I probably should be on Twitter”, I thought. So with that, I set up my account. Now just a few months later I’m sold!

Why Every Educator Should Be on Twitter.

1. You can follow anyone, but particularly the people you are interested in for your career field or interests. I follow people who are into the same tech-learning things I am, Edtech, mobile learning, instructional design, etc. Then I get to see the resources, “nuggets of wisdom”, news, or tips they share all related to what I am interested in. I don’t use Twitter like Facebook, its more of a Professional Learning Community for me. If I followed everyone like I do on Facebook, it would be more difficult to sift through all the tweets to get to the relevant information. One tool you could use to help find people to follow is Wefollow.

2. You can network with people you would otherwise never be able to.  If I want to know what educators in other places are doing, then I search for them and follow them. Amazing as it is,  there are hundreds of people doing exactly what you are doing and some might be doing it a little bit better! 😉 I may retweet their link or message, or send them a question asking about their tweet. You definitely get to know lots of people and the world seems much smaller. Its great to learn from the top professionals in your region (or the world), not to mention the added bonus of getting your foot in the door if you ever need a job somewhere. Twitter opens it all up.

3. Learn emerging trends relevant to your field right when it happens. With the Internet blazing forward and more and more educational resources available, why not tap into that knowledge? It’s nice particularly for teachers that are always trying to find the best tools, websites, and resources without having to reinvent the wheel. An added bonus is that almost every author or educator you hear about is posting information, resources, links etc on a daily basis. No need to wait until the next conference to be blown away by emerging trends that are being implemented everywhere else, you can glean some amazing insight just by checking the tweets and start implementing what you learn in your schools now.  Most schools, institutions, & businesses are on twitter too, many of which tweet about sweet deals. 😉

One suggestion is to simply set aside a few minutes each day to skim the tweets, open the relevant links in seperate windows and as you have time check them out or share what you learned to your followers. Similar to Facebook, Twitter doesn’t need to take over your life, just a few minutes a day checking in on the experts can make a huge difference in your professional learning.

Those are my thoughts on Twitter. The funny thing is when I’m done with this post I’m going to Tweet it out and everyone that sees it is already on Twitter and recognizes its importance. So just in case, I think I’ll post it on Facebook too. 

Oh by the way, you can follow me at Twitter.com/kodystimpson

Here above is a video on “Twitter for Educators” embedded from Youtube. If you are training faculty to use Twitter, it may help them understand what it is and why its such a powerful tool.