Why use a webinar?
Learners are familiar with digital technologies in their everyday lives and are using them to support their studies. In recognising this, institutions are engaging with digital tools to provide an essential part of learner support. The types of activity that are unique to digital, combined with specific webinar features make this technology a good fit for educational purposes.
Teaching and learning
The online nature of webinars and their typical functionality offers a number of opportunities:
- Enhancement of limited teaching time by providing to a wider and more dispersed audience
- A flexible feature set that incorporates mixed media such as images, video, web and audio for use in presentation, discussion or support
- Supports remote teaching sessions
- Improves access to support for staff, students or your learning community via face-to-face settings (eg 'drop-in' or scheduled appointments)
- Facilitates individual or group activity
General usage within education
- Communication with many participants at once - potentially constrained by network availability and bandwidth, but not limited by physical spaces
- Provide briefings where meeting face-to-face is costly in terms of time and travel
- Conferences and events: eg Jisc Digifest 2015 conference - a week of live online sessions and discussion
- Interviewing: as part of a research project
Webinar applications vary in the features they offer, but most facilitate:
- Recording either the entire session including all interactions or just the audio/video, for later distribution and re-use
- Walkthrough tools such as screen-sharing or application sharing allowing the presenter to show-and-tell using any application they view to be shared with participants (this feature may be particularly useful for providing feedback on a task)
- Communication tools e.g. text-chat, audio, voting tools and drawing tools enabling the group to ask questions, get immediate feedback, share comments and/or send private messages to individual participants
- Video allowing the presenter(s) to be seen via a webcam for live delivery/broadcast
- Pre-recorded video to be shown
- Audio and multiple presenters can take turns using audio and open the audio to participants who wish to contribute
Case study: Abingdon and Witney College
This case study details a Jisc project that ran from October to April 2013 with Abingdon and Witney College, which aimed to develop student employability skills by Level 3 students by using video conferencing and webinars.
This involved training the students in Blackboard Collaborate and providing them with the 'soft skills' necessary to run webinars.