Webinars – Bringing in the experts

"Philippe Legrain webinar" by John Fitzgibbon. All rights reserved.
“Philippe Legrain webinar” by John Fitzgibbon. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Dr. John Fitzgibbon, a senior lecture in politics at Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), has recently posted about his year long experience of running webinars as part of his teaching practice in political science.

What is a webinar?

A webinar is a live meeting that takes place over the web. It can consist of presentation, discussion, demonstration, or instructional session. Participants can view documents and applications via their computers, while shared audio allows for presentation and discussion.

Webinars can be an efficient way to transmit and share information. There is no transportation involved – so webinars can save time and money.

Using webinars for learning and teaching

JISC Digital Media offers some very sound advice on conducting a webinar, and suggest that webinars can be used for learning and teaching in the following ways (JISC, 2015):

  • Enhancement of limited teaching time by offering provision 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 (e.g. ‘drop-in’ or scheduled appointments);
  • Facilitates individual or group activity.
Dr. John Fitzgibbon, Senior Lecture in Politics
Dr. John Fitzgibbon, Senior Lecture in Politics

John’s experience

John tried out two forms of webinar, one that was hosted and organised by an external partner, and the other one was hosted and organised by John.

The external partner brought a wealth of experience in terms of the technology and their contacts and was able to edit and piece together the webinar to make a coherent narrative. As John notes, it “takes both time and technical training which most educators simply don’t have, to make the videos look somewhat professional” (Fitzgibbon, 2015). However, there is the potential drawback that your pedagogical goals for the class may not necessarily align with those of the external partner, which may lead to a lack of class interaction and control on the teacher’s part.

In the webinar organised and hosted by John, he used a combination of conference cam and Skype to deliver his session – the class were able to hear and see the main speaker with clarity. In this way, John was in total control of the topic of discussion and students had an opportunity to speak and ask questions of the webinar speaker, thus giving students access to experts in particular fields of scholarship and inquiry and ask questions on deeply complex contemporary issues.

What next?

Whilst John had used an external partner and Skype to run his webinar sessions, the University has software called Blackboard Collaborate which could be used to run webinars.

You can use Blackboard Collaborate, a tool integrated into Blackboard, to easily create your own webinars. If you would like to know more, contact your Faculty Learning Technologist and arrange for a chat.

References

Fitzgibbon, J. (2015). “Using Webinars in Political Science Education”. Politics & International Relations blog, 13.2.2015. Available at: https://canterburypolitics.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/using-webinars-in-political-science-education/ [Accessed 28.4.2015].

JISC. (2015). Webinars in Education. Bristol, England: Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). Available at: http://www.jiscdigitalmedia.ac.uk/guide/webinars-in-education [Accessed 28.4.2015].

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