Article published

Our article, describing this project and outlining the main recommendations, has now been published in the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-learning (EURODL), Webinars as active learning arenas.

Here is the abstract:

There is still a tendency for educators to use webinars as an online lecture hall, replicating the traditional one-to-many delivery of the physical classroom. This is unfortunate since most web-based communication platforms that are used for webinars today offer a wide range of tools and options for interaction and community building. This paper, based on a Nordic project that ran from 2014 to 2016, presents a wide range of activities, tools and methods to encourage greater audience participation in webinars and looks in particular at methods that allow the discussion to be extended beyond the restricted time frame of the actual synchronous webinar. A flipped classroom approach can allow participants to prepare for the webinar and allow the online event to focus on deeper discussion of the issues at hand. A successful webinar can also be the basis of a community of practice and we investigate a number of tools and methods that can facilitate this.

We hope you find this useful for your own webinar adventures!

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Video series on webinar basics

Ken Molay, who writes a blog about webinar development (The webinar blog), has produced a series of 12 short instruction videos giving advice on how to plan and run effective webinars. His main focus is on producing webinars for the business world but most of the tips are equally valid for educators. The most important advice is careful preparation and ensuring that all speakers have the best possible audio and video quality.

The videos can be easily accessed from the YouTube channel, Webinar Basics. Here is the introduction video.

Show your cards

Here’s a simple and effective way of improving communication during online meetings. Collaboration supercards are a collection of cards with clear messages to other participants so that you can quickly show that someone is muted, has poor sound quality, bad connection, frozen video etc. So instead of interrupting or writing in the chat you just hold up the right card in front of your card. Here’s the video.

Building on chat engagement in a webinar

2015_kopje_ff_500px-kopieA new guest post by Francisca Frenks, Dutch online learning consultant.

Some time ago I was asked to join a webinar about “Sponsoring” so I could give recommendations for improvement. The audience consisted of representatives of primary and secondary schools in different countries. The organization who was hosting the webinar invited an expert to tell more about sponsoring.

Halfway through the webinar the expert completely lost the audience’s attention. The chat discussion was very engaging and most of the participants were fully involved in that. Some participants shared their stories and experiences of how they manage with sponsors in a practical way. People were asking questions, deeper questions, more questions. So the expert was not really needed.

The host made a decision. She decided to stop the expert to present his Powerpoint and started to ask him the questions of the participants which they had formulated in the chat. Then she made a mistake by expecting too much of the expert. The expert did not feel very comfortable in this situation and it was an embarrassing situation when the host took over. Continue reading

Recycling webinar recordings

We record so many webinars and although there are many who watch these recordings there may be other ways of reusing them. I wrote a blogpost on this theme recently, Recycling webinars, and a few days later I got a link from our project partners at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm showing how they have used the recording of our webinar from the Introduction to urology MOOC. They have reused our recording to make a film showing teachers how to organise a webinar with tips on layout, structure and methodology.

Thank you to Eva Lorentzon and the learning technologists at Karolinska Institute University Library for telling us about this excellent spin-off to our project.

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Why you should always plan a webinar rehearsal

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CC BY-SA Some rights reserved by Jorge Rayon on Wikimedia Commons

When you run a webinar with guest speakers it is essential to arrange a rehearsal meeting a few days before the event. Even if you are working with experienced speakers there are many details that can cause major problems if you don’t  go through the roles, timeline and technical details well in advance.

A new article on the excellent Webinar blog, Why You Need A Webinar Run Through, stresses the need for such meetings to make sure that the slideshows and other documents actually work in the webinar room and that there are no technical conflicts. Many presenters will claim that such planning meetings are unnecessary but the article describes clearly the dangers of not preparing properly. Continue reading

Swivl points the camera at whoever has the microphone

If you are alone hosting a webinar session where you have several participants in the room with you it can be a problem keeping the camera on the person who is speaking. Swivl is an inexpensive solution that takes care of the camera for you. Swivl is a small robot on which you can mount a tablet, smartphone or camera. It has a wireless connection to a small microphone and Swivl will rotate to automatically focus on whoever has the microphone. This makes discussions much easier to follow remotely since you always see and hear whoever is speaking.

Here is a short introduction film.