|Conference venue, Umeå university|
|Some of the on-site groups|
The group work focused on identifying key factors for a successful interactive webinar and everyone had access to a common virtual workspace using the extremely handy tool Padlet. This enables participants to write notes as well as upload links and photos to a space that all can see and which can be further developed after the webinar is over (see our results). Here is a summary of some of the main points that emerged from the discussions.
- Awareness of participants' skills in the online environment
- Plan your marketing and use registration to get information on the audience (where they work, type of work). Registration list can also be used for follow-up, eg sending the link to the recording to all registered participants.
- Technical issues - pre-webinar information on settings, technical requirements etc
- Implement a "thermometer" where participants can grade the audio-quality of whoever is speaking at a certain time in the webinar.
- Introduction on how to participate, co-created rules for interaction
- Make it clear when the session is going to be recorded and when the recording is over.
- Allow time for socialising and getting familiar with the environment before the webinar starts. Welcoming atmosphere and stimulating layout.
- Webinar etiquette and meeting culture - tips about using microphones, chat, asking questions etc.
- Be aware of cultural differences when an international group is assembled. Many people are not used to active participation.
- Moderator has a key role. Must be familiar with the tools and be able to multitask (checing chat, seeing who has raised their hand etc)
- Using different types of poll questions to check audience experience, opinions and to get feedback.
- How to focus attention. The "choreography" of the session is important - using different layouts for different purposes, eg make chat window small when we need to focus on a speaker, then large chat window when we ask for comments and questions.
- Creating breakout groups and having a common work space to gather all notes and conclusions. Alternate who speaks and have assignments that include listening and observation.
- Interactivity after every slide.
- Language can be a barrier to interactivity. Group work allows for own language use though conclusions must be written in common language.
This was a relatively complex webinar since we had face-to-face groups on two sites plus online participants using breakout groups. In addition we used Padlet to gather notes from the group discussions and this worked well though not all groups made extensive notes. We tried to extend the event by using a short promotion video that was spread via Twitter and Facebook and the Padlet page offers participants the opportunity to add ideas even after the session is over. The page is still open for comments if you feel inspired. I had a project colleague to moderate the online discussions whilst I and a colleague concentrated on the classroom. From the above conclusions I would like to find a kind of sound quality thermometer so people can indicate how well they can hear the speaker without interrupting. I also realise that we can do much more to provide clear pre-webinar information and providing clearer instructions on how to participate. There is also plenty scope for developing the moderator role and providing the right information at the right time. The next step in the project is seeing what methods and tools to use with our partners in the pilot cases. I will no doubt return to this topic again many times in the future.