Getting Started with Webinars

The Environment

Preparing to deliver your first webinar can be daunting and involves a steep learning curve, not only when it comes to the software (and its capabilities), but also in terms of translating how you typically present whilst stood in front of people to an online environment.

But what makes a successful webinar is not entirely dependent on the software, it is the pedagogy that drives the delivery. Having said that, familiarising yourself with the online environment and the technology will help you manage the session more effectively and deliver a seamless and engaging session.

This guide will provide you hints, tips and considerations for delivering a successful webinar.

Support & Training

The Department for Learning Development (DfLD) will support you with the required training and guidance on how to deliver and moderate effective webinars using Blackboard Collaborate. The staff at DfLD will:

  • Help set up access to Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom (i.e. moderator log in and installation details).
  • Outline essential elements required for an effective and successful presentation (i.e. guides, test runs).
Plan Your Session

Like any lesson or presentation, a webinar requires a considerable amount of time and good planning. Here are some tips that you may want to consider.

Objectives

Define the session aims/objectives and focus on the key areas that you should cover during the webinar.

Plan

Prepare your session material in advance (i.e. PowerPoint slides, notes, visuals, questions, group activities).

Plan your group activities – think about the materials required, the duration and number of students involved in the session.

Live/streaming video – consider the connection speed of your participants. If you can, try to gauge the slowest connection speed of your participants to ensure that your activities are feasible for all users.

Duration

Determine the duration of your webinar, you might want to consider creating an agenda that indicates the duration of each segment within the session (i.e. Audio testing, Introduction, Presentation, Discussion, Breaks, Group Activity).

Rehearse

Rehearse or run a mock session by enrolling your colleagues as participants. This will help you practise your presentation, get used to the webinar platform (Blackboard Collaborate) and identify possible technical pitfalls.

Presenters

Consider how and when the transition between presenters (i.e. guest speaker) will take place during a session.

Support

Decide if you need support during the session i.e. for monitoring and responding to the text chat, Q&A, technical support or note taking.

Recording Options

Decide if you want to record the session. This will be a good reference and adds to the repository of learning materials. But if you are sharing highly sensitive materials (i.e. medical images) you may want to re-consider this option.

 

Do the Essentials

You may want to consider building-in some of the ideas mentioned below:

Induction

Provide an induction/introductory session for the students.  Use this as a practise session to demonstrate the features and set ups within the webinar. During the induction, establish some of the ground rules for the module and webinars.

Compatibility & Browser

Advise students to install the necessary webinar platform, preferred browser and if required run compatibility testing before the webinar to ensure the live session runs with minimum disruption.

Headset

Advise students to acquire a decent headset and if necessary a webcam.

Email Invites

As part of the induction, send an email invite out to students to remind and to ensure they come prepared to the session. This email might include the following details:

  • Date, time and the duration of the session (be aware of different time zones and students’ geographical locations)
  • Installation details and links to help guides 
  • The webinar room link
  • Compatibility testing link
  • Most compatible/preferred browser
  • Link to the module handbook / Blackboard / learning materials
  • Link/reminder to any pre-activity students have to prepare/complete before the session
    (i.e. reading material, research, select a topic, complete a quiz)
  • Inform if the session will be recorded
Before the Session
Preload Your Content

Pre-load your files (i.e. PowerPoint documents, images, video) to the webinar platform. This may take some time depending on the file size. So start early, at least an hour before the actual session.

Ready

Make sure the ‘room’ is ready and available for participants at least 15 minutes before the actual session starts, in order to check that their technology works, especially if they are not familiar with the platform.

Audio Set-Up

Run the audio set-up wizard presentation.

Play (sensible) background music. Participants will be reassured that the session is about to begin and check if they have turned the speakers on.

 

During the Session
Welcome

Welcome participants to the session using the chat pod in case they have not turned on the speakers. Advise participants to set up the microphone/webcam, turn on the speakers and advise participants to use emoticons to provide feedback.

Briefly explain room protocols and etiquettes.

Communication 

Establish some ground rules for communication during the session.  i.e. use the thumbs up and thumbs down emoticons to show if participants approve or disapprove what is being discussed.

Ice Breaker

Allow time for ‘ice-breaker’ activities.  Ensure participants get the opportunity and time to socialise and get to know each other.

Interaction

Build time for user interactions (i.e. using chat, Q&A session, and group activity).

 

After the Session
Continuity

Email or post an announcement on Blackboard for students to follow-up the post activities.

If the session was recorded, provide the link for a recorded session.