Unfortunately, despite the speedy delivery of ebooks (with Webinars being no exception) I only got the book the day before I was due to run my first webinar as part of the IH teachers online conference. Fortunately, I had some time that day to read and get some last minute ideas for the next day.
I almost wish I hadn’t though as I wanted to change so much after I had read it.
Who is Nicky Hockly?
Nicky is the Director of Pedagogy at The Consultants-E and has a long history in teaching and in particular distance teaching. As such, it’s no surprise that she published a book about webinars as she is well versed in the area. As part of The Consultants-E she runs online training sessions on how to use various pieces of technology and even training to run online CELTA courses.
A book for teachers development or cooking?
The whole of the webinars books is compared with cooking. Loads of allusions drawn about all aspects of the webinar process. No wonder the previewed in the rounds blog as “something is cooking in the round.” At times, it feels like these comparisons are just for the sake of continuing the theme but most of the time the comparisons are really useful and do provide a great overarching theme.
The eBook also has regular practical reflection tasks divided into 5-10-30 (due to how many minutes they’ll take you to do.) So, you shouldn’t just passively read but actually put into practice what you’re reading.
How is the book organised?
In this section Nicky explains what webinars are and some of her own story of how she started webinaring as well as setting the general theme and comparisons with cooking.
A very useful section of the book due to the number of times webinars can be totally ruined by not having the right equipment that works. In fact, on Friday I thought my mic was a bit quite and another present certainly had complaints about their volume. Nicky provides some advice and lays out the implications of not having the correct hardware available.
This section looks at the differences between text, audio and video webinars and some platforms that can be used to deliver different options. It is really useful and address the advantages of different platforms and characteristics of each format. This is a really useful section though it could perhaps have looked a bit more at implications of the formats.
Also, this section also includes some tips which make a great presenter or moderate. Useful ideas to keep in mind.
Formats of webinars
Is your webinar a chat show or more a guided tour? Well webinars will help you find out. By providing some different formats of webinars to think about it can help guide you more into making the most of the tools you have at your disposal.
This was actually an aspect I hadn’t really considered before reading (I guess I just thought they were a simple case of, show some slides and comment) but it really opened my eyes to how much can be done with webinars.
Here we get some suggested activities divided into three parts; starters, mains and deserts. Of course, there are comments on how to convert starters to mains…etc and, perhaps more importantly, how to adapt the activities for different formats. This is one section where I did feel that there was a strong priority given to Video webinars.
This is, perhaps, understandable as they are the newest and brightest version, but it would have been nice to see some suggestions of activities that favour audio or text chat. Perhaps, it is simply the case though that anything text and audio can do…video can do better…and in colour! So maybe that is why Nicky chose to focus on the all inclusive option and work down rather than the minimum and build up.
Until I actually presented a webinar, I hadn’t really considered that I might need someone on the sideline to help but I was definitely glad to have someone when I did present. This is despite being quite tech savy (up to code I’m good). It was a good point to realise that for other teachers who aren’t tech savy, the role of a moderator can be vital. In addition, it also set out some good principles of procedure for conducting a webinar such as conducting a trial run on the same platform with the same hardware the day before, setting out the differences between a moderator and presenter and how they should interact.
Videos, links and more
One of the great features of this eBook from the round is the inbuilt interaction. There are plenty of internal links to the other sections (I was particularly impressed by the suggested courses. Each one has an overview of details in an almost spreadsheet formate, if you click on one, it takes you to a detailed guide to the activity.) What’s more, the links to web based videos for samples of webinars and as material for the reflective tasks really show some tech savy components to this eBook.
It’s interesting when compared to the last round release of 52 subversive ideas. But then again, for 52, there was always inherit minimalism in resources and prompts.
It also show some exciting potential for future ebooks from the round.
What I would have liked to see.
Not a lot to add here but any good review should have some criticisms. However, I would have liked a little bit more about the implications of webinars as opposed to face 2 face, especially with teaching online classes (which is referenced but not really developed upon).
- Are webinars more or less engaging than face to face?
- Are quieter people more or less likely to contribute?
- What unique features tend to occur in Webinars?
- Are there any reasons why Webinars are better or worse than a face to face session? etc
Most of these questions are alluded to but a section on methodological and learning implications would have been useful.
Overall, I found webinars to be an interesting and engaging eBook which showed some nice signs of development for the round. The format and use of some of the unique features built into ebooks was really nice to see and I hope to see more development in this area.
As for the actual content, it was really useful and certainly has given me some ideas for how to make webinars more engaging and useful for any participants. I really look forward to putting it into practice.