“Information is not knowledge“, Albert Einstein. There is no shortage of information given the ‘information gateway’ at our fingertips – yet finding the time to select relevant, meaningful and worthy information that can be synthesized into knowledge is a challenge. I’ve struggled with how to choose from the deluge of information, materials that I can use to expand my knowledge base, and keep current with the ‘latest’ developments in the realm of educational technology. One solution? Webinars. These online seminars are time efficient, relevant, inexpensive [often free] and cutting edge [for the most part]. Through trial and error, I’ve been able get the most out of these sessions in an efficient way. I’ve shared my strategy below, and included a selection of upcoming webinars that may be of interest to educators.
What are Webinars?
The term webinar, defined by Webopedia, “is short for a Web-based seminar, a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web” . The key feature of a webinar is interaction. Though not at a high level, there is ability to ask questions of the presenter, ‘chat’ with other participants and hear live from one or more experts on a given topic. Several platforms deliver the webinar, and as the user, for the most part you don’t need to download any software. It’s easy to participate. First step is registering, done online of course, at which time a link is provided by the host. On the day and time of the webinar, participating is as simple as clicking on the link provided 5 minutes before the start time, and you’re in. 🙂
Benefits of the Webinar for Professional Development
Recently I’ve learned much by attending various webinars including: how lecture capture systems are being implemented in traditional campuses and what that means pedagogically (and gathered ideas of how this will benefit the online program at my workplace), the new LMS platform Canvas (Instructure), identified new instructional design strategies, identified a new method for making learning more personal for our students, and more. All through attending various webinars in the last three months. Though each topic has not been directly related to what I’m working on at the moment, I’ve expanded my knowledge base, by listening to experts in an area of educational technology – without leaving my office, without spending more than one hour to do so, and at no (or little) cost!
Finding webinars and choosing ones of potential benefit can be challenging in itself. But worth the effort. Here’s what I have gathered. First, free webinars are terrific, but you want to identify who the sponsor is, and who might be involved as a ‘guest’ or as a supporting presenter. Sponsors of the webinar are those paying for the delivery, not a bad thing, but be aware that the sponsor usually is using the webinar platform to gain more clients or sell a product (bias is possible of course). The benefit is that one can identify trends in the market (by the product featured) and often can hear from users of the product, and their experiences. Often you’ll here from instructional designers, technology leaders etc from other educational institutions. They often share experiences and answer questions not necessarily related to the product. Here’s some further points:
- Establish a goal of attending one webinar a month – picking a topic that is not necessarily related directly to your area of expertise. I find this helpful in expanding my knowledge base and I often get ‘ideas’ for my work by doing so.
- Sign-up for for e-newsletters of ed tech organizations or associations. Sign-up is usually free, and you’ll receive notification of upcoming webinars. The downside is the emails; there will be emails aplenty. Suggestions: Campus Technology, ISTE, ASTD, EduCause and the e-learning Guild.
- Take notes while participating, filing them in a designated file. I have a folder, Webinars on my desktop to keep my notes and any materials from the webinar such as power point slides.
- Ask questions during the webinar (typed in through the chat box) – they usually get answered.
- Take note of the email of presenter if you have information, question or project you would like to share with him or her. I find most hosts are very open to participants questions and feedback after the fact.
Mobile Learning: Designing Instructionally Sound and Engaging mLearning
No cost. Sponsored by:
Date: Wednesday, April 4th, Click here for details
Social Media for Faculty Engagement: Utilizing Social Technologies to Improve Faculty Communications & Collaboration
No Cost: Sponsored by GoingOn
Date: March 27th. Click here for details
Tegrity and the Flipped Classroom
No Cost. Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Tegrity
March 20, 2012,Click here for details
EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative 2012 Online Seminar
March 19, 2012 • 1:00–4:00 p.m. ET (UTC-4) convert to your time zone Runs three hours.
Click here for further details (I’ve attended a webinar by this presenter – she is very good)
Hybrid Learning and Instructional Design:
No cost for Sloan-C members, $99 for non-members/Guests of Sloan C
Date: March 20, 2012. Click here for details
What to Expect in Learning Technology and Learning Content in the 3-5 Year Horizon
No cost. Sponsored by Next is Now Click here for details
Date: April 25, 2012
Remote Proctoring in Online education:
No cost. Sponsored by: Campus Technology (magazine) and Software Secure
Date: March 27, Click here for details