An Epiphany – It Happened in a Webinar

A few weeks ago I had an epiphany. I’ve been doing webinars for a couple of years now. I’ve been doing them because we have several offices and it saves on travel. But then it happened . . .
I was in the middle of the Webinar and I realized the class was better than an in-person class. It was more fun, more interactive, and more effective. Comments from participants (unedited – Scout’s honor): This is wonderful. Thank you! This is awesome.
What led to this:
1.    Getting used to the experience. Both me and the participants had been a part of several webinars using this platform (Adobe Connect Pro) before. Having said that, I believe that most people can get up to speed very quickly with Webinars. We use Abobe Connect Pro but WebEx and Elluminate are great products as well.
2.    Having lots of interaction via Chat. I am so greatful that I saw a webinar that Bob Pike did in which he made extensive use of Chat. It was really a breakthough for me. His rule of thumb (which I try to follow) is get feedback from the participants about every 4 minutes. It does not have to difficult! I like to begin chat by asking a question like, “please chat what city you are in and the current temperature”. That helps them get comfortable with Chat. You can ask a question like “did you get that, please chat yes or no”. Another example is that you can show two methods to do the same process and ask “which do you prefer?” In the class where I had my epiphany, they were chatting about the class without me even prompting them. Chat works in a Webinar.
3.    Using the printed handouts. Up until recently, I felt like everything had to be “online”. Wrong! It is perfectly fine to have them do something on the handout like they would if they were in class. You might have them fill in blanks, highlight items, or do an exercise.
4.    Having them do exercises on their own. In many software classes you see the teacher do an activity and them you do it (often by following steps on a handout) on your own. In my Webinars, I routinely ask them to do an activity and them Chat when they are done. I’m not sure why I was hesitant to do this, but it works!
What about you? What works for you? What have you tried that doesn’t work? Sound off in the comments.


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