You might have noticed in the past few years that video conferencing and webinars have significantly increased in popularity.
This change in behaviour is in part fuelled by the economy and the need to cut down on expensive travel to conferences and job interviews. It means that technical skills are becoming more and more important for the workplace and are now seen as a key employability skill for young people.
This trend has even led to the rise of the Skype or Google Hangout interview. For example, Pizza Hut recently held online interviews for a new social media director. They used Google Hangout to run 140 second interviews, inspired by Twitter’s 140 character limit! Their interview candidates had 140 seconds to sell themselves for the job. This type of activity requires everyone to have an improved level of digital literacy. We need a level of confidence that the technology is not only going to work for us, but that we have the skills to set it up correctly and use it to its best capability - if the audio levels aren’t set up accurately, your pitch won’t be heard!
Videoconferencing is well used across the research and education sector with proven benefits for staff and students. Shrewsbury Sixth Form College have been using videoconferencing to benefit their students in the classroom and provide them life skills.
I have been working at Abingdon & Witney College with a core group of volunteer students to develop employability skills in relation to video conferencing and webinars as part of Students4webES project.
Students involved in the project learnt to set up and run webinars with a series of local employers. Staff and students involved at the college received two training sessions. The first was an introduction to video conferencing and webinars, and the second was on advanced webinar skills and moderator training for the students.
Following the second session our students set up and ran webinars with eight employers. These were based on the theme ‘What does an employer want from an employee?’. At least three students were involved in each webinar. One took the role of the speaker, another moderated and the third supported the employer or other participants in the webinar. This allowed them to learn to work together and develop a variety of digital literacy skills.
Through this project I found that embedding digital literacy skills into student-centred activities really does pay off - helping students to develop, but also improving the skills of staff and improving the college’s reputations within the community. At the start of the project five out of six of our students had never heard of a webinar and by the end of the project four out of six students had independently participated in webinars other than the eight project ones, and all reported high levels of confidence in using a webinar platform. They had all also built relationships with local employers, with some going on to do apprenticeships, and developed skills that would improve their employability.
Our students have since produced a poster guide to running a webinar, based on our experiences. Below are my top tips to help you ensure your success:
- Check that you can access the webinar platform a day or two in advance on the computer or device you will be using on the day
- Login to the session early, allowing yourself time to run the audio set up before the session starts
- If using a webcam, check that the lighting makes it easy to be seen on the screen. Check that the background isn’t distracting and that you are centred in the screen.
For more top tips check out the ‘Students’ Top Tips for Running a Webinar – a useful skill for employment’ poster created as part of the Students4webES project which is free to download.