Have you ever “attended” a webinar? (Link goes to a definition.) I have. Over the past few years I’ve sat in on a dozen or so. I feel the same way about webinars that I do about guacamole. It seems like a great idea on paper, but it is rare that I try it and like it.
Not that I couldn’t like guacamole, or webinars. It’s just that individual preparations disagree with me. The amount of one ingredient or another used by the cook (cilantro, lime, sour cream), or the lack of other ingredients (proper slides, not sure of the objective, no interest shown by the leader) usually seem to miss the mark with me.
It occurs to me that in every webinar I’ve attended there have been some key failures. Technical glitches are obvious and should be expected. More importantly, it seems that the leaders just did not prepare for the webinar in the same way that a classroom teacher would prepare for a lesson. There was not a clarity of objective, no attempt to engage the participants, no checking for understanding beyond a muttered “ok?” on the part of the leader.
It may be that these folks simply weren’t Educators. In fact, I know this is true of most of them. Like most technologies, businesses are way out in front of us in the education world, so most of the ones I have sat through are initiated by a vendor or a governmental agency. This does not excuse the lack of preparation, but it might explain it to a degree.
Earlier today a colleague (Corey Dahl at ESU #8) shared a link to a web page that should be required reading to anyone leading a webinar. It lays out 15 Tips for Webinars: How to Add Impact When You Present Online. What I noticed right away is that these tips are important for engaging an audience whether or not you are in the same room with them. Try these in your classroom and you’ll find success, just as you would if your “classroom” was distributed across 4 states and 2 time zones via webinar.
And hopefully whomever leads the next webinar I attend will see this and do one or two of the ideas presented. But I’m not holding my breath!