Webinars – Why Run Webinars?


As established on our “Webinars – Introductory FAQs” page, webinars can allow people from all over the world to meet and collaborate in realtime over the internet, without needing to be physically near each other. Such a set up can provide many opportunities and benefits, but may also generate some initial concerns.

Benefits and Opportunities

01. Get more out of limited access, time or funds

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  • Staff or students located off-campus (on placement, etc) can use a webinar platform to meet with on-campus or also-remote colleagues
  • External speakers can present via a webinar without the need to come to campus, meaning no travel or accommodation fees
  • International or highly-booked external speakers may be more willing to attend a short webinar from their own home/office, when they wouldn’t otherwise be willing/able to spend a day travelling to attend something of the same length in person.

Further Reading

 

02. Reach a larger audience

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  • Not only can the live webinar be attended by a wider and more diverse audience than purely on-campus events, but if the webinar is recorded the recording can then be disseminated as a resource post-event to reach an even larger audience.

Not all platforms allow webinars to be recorded, but centrally-support platform Blackboard Collaborate does. Recordings made in Collaborate can be viewed by both UoY and external contacts without extra steps needing to be taken.

Other platforms may require you to upload your recording to a public video sharing service such as YouTube before it could be viewed by external contacts.

Further Reading

 

03. Increase audience engagement and interaction

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Both the webinar space itself and the tools it provides can encourage your attendees to engage and interact more freely than an in-person scenario may potentially allow.

Webinars can be perceived as informal, closed environments where attendees may feel more willing to ask questions or share opinions, particularly if they have joined anonymously.

Examples of tools commonly provided by webinar platforms:

  • Polling tools
  • Whiteboard/File drawing tools
  • Real time reaction reporting

Which tools are available to you will depend on which webinar platform you choose: Webinars – Choosing a Suitable Platform.
 
Further Reading

 

04. Create Learning Resources

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  • Similar to lecture capture, webinar recordings can be embedded into the VLE as a learning resource, potentially as a resource for flipped teaching
  • Sharing webinar recordings can allow students to revisit the session for comprehension/revision purposes

Not all platforms allow webinars to be recorded, but centrally-support platform Blackboard Collaborate does. Recordings made in Collaborate can be viewed by both UoY and external contacts without extra steps needing to be taken.

Other platforms may require you to upload your recording to a public video sharing service such as YouTube before it could be viewed by external contacts.

Further Reading

 

05. Develop Employability Skills / Digital Literacy

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  • Many jobs now involve webinar-type activities; attending and/or presenting webinars can prove a valuable experience for both students and staff alike
  • Regular use of online tools such as webinar platforms can help bolster an individual’s digital literacy.

Further Reading

 

Common Concerns

01. Technical competency

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Where presenters are concerned that they may lack the technical competency to run a webinar:

Where presenters are concerned that their participants may lack technical competency:

  • If possible, run a practice webinar session to allow your participants to experience the platform. This could be a standalone session, or just a short period at the start of your webinar. Set basic tasks for your participants to try in-room
  • Share help materials with your participants – Example: Collaborate Ultra – Participant – “Attending a Session” One Pager [Google Doc]

Further Reading

  • Our “Webinars – Organising, Designing and Running” page – coming soon

 

02. Presentation skills

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Presenting a webinar will be different experience to presenting in a physical room:

  • It is more difficult to get immediate feedback from your audience. When presenting to a physically-present audience, you’re able to note if they’re nodding along or looking confused – This is more difficult when presenting online.
  • Ask your audience to communicate with you. They can use the text chat regularly to show they agree or understand (a quick “thumbs up” icon can be all that’s needed) or to query if they’re unsure on a point.

…But some parts of the experience will be similar:

  • Manage your attendees’ expectations, let them know what they should get from your session
  • Make sure you have the appropriate teaching materials and the right equipment to present
  • Make sure that you can be heard clearly

Further Reading

 

03. Expense/System requirements

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The University of York centrally supports two webinar platforms: Blackboard’s Collaborate and Google Hangouts. Both services are free for  UoY staff to use with internal or external audiences.

The only expense you may need to cover is that of purchasing a good microphone/headset to present with, if you do not already have one available.

Further Reading

  • Our “Webinars – Organising, Designing and Running” page – coming soon

 

04. Attendee attention multitasking

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There may be a concern that your attendees are not giving your session 100% of their attention, with access to other websites at hand.

The key is keeping your audience engaged:

  • Consider how long your webinar should be. Longer sessions are harder on audience attention spans.
  • Have regular interactive sections within your session, do not simply present information one-way for the whole duration. Interaction can take a number of forms depending on the size of your audience: use a poll to quickly get answers to a content-related question, ask your audience to share any questions they have about the materials in the text chat pane or ask them just share an emoji that sums up their current feeling.

Some webinar platforms have ways of reporting on how your audience is engaging. Centrally-supported platform Blackboard Collaborate Ultra currently allows you to run reports on who joined your session and for how long, and their roadmap for 2018 includes further develops to these reportsto show which attendees responded in polls or text chat and more. Non-Centrally-supported platform GoToWebinar enables you to see when attendees have tabbed away to look at a different browser window.

Further Reading

  • Our “Webinars – Organising, Designing and Running” page – coming soon