Distance learning is gaining pace. Many companies and tutors have acknowledged the advantages of online education and hurried up to introduce this tool into their work. Today we are going to talk about webinars that are one of the popular ways of organizing distance learning.
Aim of implementing webinars
If you are only at the stage of introducing online learning to your employees or students, then webinars are the solution to start with. The prime cost of implementing them is not high. Specialized webinar platform would cost you about US$35 monthly for the audience of up to 60 people. All employees and students have computers that will be necessary during the webinar.
If you study remotely, webinars are able to make your e-learning system a bit more diverse and interactive. Learners interact with the tutors in real time, which means they can have more involvement into the process and perceive the educational materials in a more effective manner.
Formats of distance learning possible to implement with webinars:
- Closed group classes;
- General profile online conference with several speakers;
- Online seminar in the Question/Answer format;
- Testing and knowledge assessment.
No webinars can substitute workshops or training that target forming skills and practical experience. If you would like to not simply tell the information, but do it so that your students could learn it and use their new skills, do not forget about practical tasks.
When preparing for a webinar, it is important to pay attention to the information presentation, as when no visual materials and special tools are used, chances are your listeners will simply fall asleep. For distance learning, the following tools might be useful:
Keynotes. For proper visualization, prepare a keynote with visual images, schemes and key points of your presentation. Collect quality materials that correspond to the topic of the class and are clear to the target audience.
Above all, minimalism is an important rule of a good keynote. Have you heard the saying “Less is better”? It is a good illustration of the requirements to a keynote. To maximize the effect, use the minimum set of tools, short meaningful text, simple words, and sentences.
Chat. Every 6-10 minutes, be sure to involve your listeners into discussion: put direct questions, ask to illustrate the new material with examples, etc. It is important to avoid abstract or too complicated questions. Discuss several answers, summarize them and continue your online lecture.
Video. No doubt, video is entertaining and effective tool for memorizing. During classes, video lessons may be demonstrated to students. Make sure you have avoided potential technical issues. Email the video to your attendees or offer them a link for independent download.
Interactive board. It is possible to write and draw on the virtual board in the same way as using the school one, and clean it in a mouse click afterward.
Screen sharing. This is another imitation of the whiteboard. Learners see what is going on at the tutor’s desktop. When using screen sharing, refrain from sharp movements of your mouse pointer together with quick transitions from one image to another. Keep the contact with your audience continuously, and if you see any communication delay, count to three and put some probing question like “Do you see how I got here?”. The reason for the picture transmission delay is most likely caused by low Internet connection speed.
Recording. It allows viewing the webinar at any convenient time. Recordings are useful for the learners that had no chance to participate in the online meeting or for those wishing to refresh their knowledge.
In short, knowing how to work with the above tools will help you bring your information to the attention of your students in a more qualitative way and increase the involvement of your students as well.
Hints for organizing an interesting webinar
Webinar is a specific event format, as on one hand, it means presentations and interaction with the audience in real time, and on the other hand, you do not see your listeners and their reaction. These factors might cause certain difficulties and discomfort. To make sure webinars bring both benefits and pleasure, take into account the below recommendations:
1) Do not read the slides or any text. Otherwise, your listeners have at least the options of having a nap or diving into the social networks.
2) We do understand you would want to tell as much as possible at your webinar. Remember that it is not worth making your webinar last longer than 50-60 minutes. Our brain is able to perceive information effectively for no longer than 50 minutes, with a break required after this time.
3) During the usual lecture or training, you interact with your students directly. At webinars, this interaction is done using a special platform, working with which may cause some questions from your attendees. Not to get distracted by such things, make sure to assign a moderator beforehand. It should be the person that would help all attendees with any technical issues.
4) The worst thing we have ever seen during a webinar is a presenter having a bad Internet connection, which was constantly pausing, with the quacking sound broadcast. Such situations irritate the learners, while the presenters get frustrated about the tools used. For this not to happen, be sure to stop any downloads or uploads during your webinar, disconnect your Skype or other messengers and close any unnecessary web browser tabs. If it does not help, it might be worth upgrading your ISP’s tariff to a better one offering you stable and fast Internet connection.
Webinars are a perfect fit for distance learning. They allow for live interaction with the learners, which in turn means their better involvement into the process as well as better results.
If our post inspired you to try and see how good this tool is for distance learning, we are happy to provide you free account for the webinar service for up to 20 attendees.