We are getting ready for a new year and often, that inlcudes facilitaitng webinars as a part of our professional development plans. Join Montserrat Oyanedal Tolmo and Jamie Trujillo from the New Mexico Distance Education and Learning Technologies on Friday, (August 16th) as we explore strategies to create webinars that are engaging.
During this single day, asynchronous discussion, you will be able to explore tried and true practices and discover new ideas that can energize your webinars. In preparation for this discussion, let's start talking about how you use webinars in professional development.
Good morning Montserrat and Jamie,
Thank you for sharing your expertise in planning and delivery of professional development through webinars. As we noted, webinars are becoming a staple of professional development. These tools can provide any time / any where opportunities for professional development.
At the COABE conference in New Orleans, you demonstrated how to use YouTube as a conferencing tool. How did you decide to use YouTube? How has that worked out for you and your participants? What are the benefits of this tool, compared to more traditional methods such as GoToMeeting or Zoom?
I'd love to hear how this is working for you.
Thank you for having us today, Kathy!
We decided to use YouTube Live when it was originally named "Hangouts on Air". The NMDELT Team had been utilizing Google Tools for some time, and we found that Google Hangouts was an effective meeting tool. When we found that Google and YouTube had integrated, we decided to use that for our Tech Talk webinars, and we have been very pleased with the results.
While YouTube Live did take some getting used to, we found that once we started using it regularly, it was a simple and effective tool for our webinars. Our very first Tech Talk webinar was presented using GoToMeeting, and because the platform limits the number of participants to 25, we found that some people could not access the live webinar unless someone else left the meeting. YouTube Live allows for unlimited viewers since it is more of a passive viewing tool rather than a meeting platform. The only people who are live on the Google Hangout are the presenter and the moderator. The participants/viewers are given a separate link that allows them to watch the webinar right from the YouTube website. The benefit to this is that presenters do not have to worry about feedback noise or interruptions from participants if they accidentally unmute themselves or don’t know how to mute themselves. Participants are able to ask questions and/or comment on the webinar via the YouTube chat, which is monitored by the moderator, so there is still some level of active participation by the viewers. We also incorporate live polling tools such as PollEverywhere in order to encourage viewer participation. Though this is not perfect, we find that the majority of our viewers will get used to this type of participation after about two webinars.
YouTube Live has several other benefits compared to other platforms such as GoToMeeting or Zoom. First, though all platforms allow for meeting recording, YouTube Live automatically records the webinar. This eliminates the risk of the presenter forgetting to hit the record button. Also, once the webinar is concluded, the webinar is automatically archived and available on YouTube for viewing. There are no extra steps needed for this to happen, and the original link for the live webinar is the same for the recording. This allows us to put that link on our website so that our colleagues can watch the webinar at any time. The video is also automatically added to our YouTube channel, so our channel followers will have access to it right away. Finally, YouTube Live is free! In a state like New Mexico where funding is limited, that is truly priceless for us.
Thank you for having us here and for providing this opportunity to share our experiences using YouTube Live as a webinar tool for professional development. Thank you Jamie for a great response! It's so true that it took us a little bit to get used to YouTube Live from the moderator and presenter point of view. However, from the participants/viewers it was a great transition, as everyone is familiar with YouTube. Also in terms of the technology component, by using YouTube I personally believe we increased viewers and level of engagement in our webinars, as a lot of the participants were able to access easily from their mobile devices at any time from anywhere. Additionally, as Jamie commented, having the embedded chat made a great impact on our webinars as we had the live interaction component in our presentations that allowed us to create a "personal" connection with the participants.
In terms of traditional methods, I think Jamie did a great job highlighting the main benefits of YouTube Live in comparison with GoToMeeting and Zoom. Also, I would like to add that after you record the webinar, YouTube provides a lot of editing capabilities for the video, such as captions, trimming, etc. The tools are easy to use and also there are so many tutorials available online that can help you to make quality videos. In addition, these tools are great as promote content accessibility for all participants and also can help you to reach out a larger population. Lastly, for Adult Education programs with limited budget this is a great instructional technology tool to add to the teacher toolbox as it's free, user-friendly and well-known by a lot of people. As a result, you don't have to worry about training. Also, YouTube Live is a tool that will help to bridge the digital divide in the field of Adult Education.
We sure love YouTube Live!
As a moderator, my biggest challenge is making sure that I have reliable internet service throughout the entire webinar. If I lose internet connectivity, the entire webinar will shut off. For rural areas, this can be an issue. Even in an urban location such as Albuquerque, internet connectivity can be spotty.
Another challenge is making sure that the viewers have access to the chat. In order to access the chat, viewers must sign in with a YouTube account (they can use their gmail accounts). Some viewers did not know this at first, so they didn’t have a chat box. Also, if viewers are using a mobile device (phone or tablet), they will have to watch the video in portrait orientation (vertically) so that they can see the chat box. If they turn their device sideways, the chat box disappears. We found over time that if we explain how to access the chat during the introduction to the webinar, viewer issues are minimized.
Finally, attention to all required details can be a challenge. As a moderator, I have to make sure that 1.) my presenters’ audio is always working, 2.) the presentation screen is always showing no matter who is talking, 3.) the chat is being monitored, and 4.) the webinar is opened and closed properly. These details get easier with practice, and we have definitely had our share of faux pas with regard to the delivery of webinars!
Overall, the challenges have been minimal compared to the benefits of using YouTube Live, and our participants do find the platform to be relatively easy to use .
In our case, we have been lucky to have Jamie as the stellar moderator. She has been great on that role! As a presenter, it's very important to have that connection with the moderator.
Based on my personal experience presenting, I had done it with a partner and by myself so I had experienced different challenges. Presenting with a partner is great! However, it is useful to rehearse in advance and practice a couple times as it's very important to be clear who is talking and respect the times that each presenter has to avoid talking over each other. Also we recommend to practice using the technology tools you are planning to use for the day of the webinar. We like to use other tools, such as Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, etc. to engage the audience. So it can be tricky! If you decide to do that please practice! Consequently, we recommend having a plan B! Sometimes things don't go as we plan, and it's good to have another activity or question to engage the audience. We had experienced technical challenges that are hard to control, as a result, you just have to relax and be prepared to come up with a spontaneous activity or even a joke that will help you pass the struggle with grace. Sometimes you just have to surrender and let go when technology is in charge! Usually, participants are very understanding when connectivity issues happen.
Other challenges that come to my mind are very similar to the ones that Jamie commented. Consequently, we had learned to have a system to support participants that are new and can't access. Usually, the moderator will take care of that as the presenter is busy delivering the content. A strategy to help participants that are lost is having a "cheat sheet" with instructions that they can use to access the webinar. Also, sometimes participants will put you "on the spot" so remember to ask for their email to follow up with their concern or question as sometimes you will run out of time. Also as a presenter, it is always a good practice to mute yourself when another person is talking as the background sounds can interfere and we aware of what you are saying! It is tricky, but "practice makes perfect" and then those little steps will become familiar.
The most important thing is to have fun and remember that is OK to make mistakes and have challenges! With time and practice things get easier for sure and you appreciate the benefits of YouTube Live. In the long run these challenges will help you to be a more creative presenter, deliver content effectively and realize that there are a lot of opportunities for improvements.
In terms of best practices, I feel we have been discussing them through the posts. However, this is a list of the most important ones for me:
Practice and rehearse (alone and with your team)
Have a plan B in case technology doesn't work (and some jokes to tell).
Mute yourself when another person is talking.
Make sure that other technology tools that you are planning to use work well (Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, menti.com,etc).
Have a feedback form available for participants to collect data and important information to improve your training practices (there is always opportunities for improvements)
Have fun and connect with your participants by asking questions allowing the audience to share their knowledge.
Provide space for questions from the audience and if you don’t know the answer follow up!
Related to outcomes, I personally think that using feedback and additional engagement tools had helped us to connect better with our participants. As a result,we have been able to build an audience that have been supporting us and participate regularly in our webinars. We are so thankful for them!
Thank you again Kathy for this experience! It has been a pleasure to share our experiences! Also thank you to Jamie, she has been such a solid moderator and coworker.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to circle back to this discussion and share an article, Does your Training Belong on YouTube?, from Training magizine. They share a few tips to add to this conversation. Their suggestions on youtube videos:
- Plan your video. Be descriptive in what your video shows and keep it straightforward and enticing to ensure it’s viewed by the right audience.
- Keep it focused. With an ocean of Internet to explore on any given subject, it can be challenging to hold your audience’s interest. That’s why it’s important to keep your audience engaged by making sure your video stays on point and is the right length for your subject matter.
- Sync action and voice. When you create a training video, viewers will have an easier time following along if you keep your footage as simple as possible. By synchronizing the video and voice in your video, you’ll simplify the cognitive load for your audience and reduce viewer strain.
What are your thoughts? Do you use youtube videos? How has this conversation inspired you?