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Emerging practice with webinars for blended and online learning


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Presentation by Calum Thomson (University of Salford) & Rod Cullen (Manchester Metropolitan University) at MELSIG, University of Nottingham event January 2015.
The use of webinars to support blended and online learning has increased slowly but surely at both MMU and University of Salford over the past two years. This has presented both opportunities and challenges to those colleagues who have taken the plunge. Calum and Rod have undertaken a series of one-to-one interviews with colleagues delivering webinars to explore their experiences and to try and identify emerging good practice with this exciting technology.

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Emerging practice with webinars for blended and online learning

  1. 1. Emerging practice with webinars for blended and online learning Calum Thomson (University of Salford) Dr W. Rod Cullen (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  2. 2. Webinars Commonly considered to be shorthand for “web-based seminar” “… a live online educational presentation during which participating viewers can submit questions and comments” Merriam-Webster's Dictionary (1998) via Lustig (2008). “Webinars are live, interactive teaching and learning activities (seminars, tutorials, workshops, lectures, etc) delivered via a full- featured web conferencing system.” Cullen & Thomson (2013)
  3. 3. • No institutional web conferencing provision • Lots of interest and requests to CELT • Very limited Expertise • Pilot use in MMUBS • Pilot MMU webinar series Evaluation • Flexibility – Time – Place • Organisation – Team Teaching MMU 2012 • Interactivity – Document & Screen sharing – Chat – Polling
  4. 4. State of Play 2015 • Institutionally managed (IT Services), on request licence procurement for Adobe Connect • Specific MMU URL • Currently 22 host licences • Institutionally managed service using Blackboard Collaborate. • Enabled through the VLE. • Access for all staff. • Similar take up to MMU.
  5. 5. Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews with current webinar users: MMU (12) / Salford (2). • Planning • Pre-session activities • Staff development • Delivery • Evaluation activities Transcription followed by thematic analysis of each of these key areas. What are the barriers & enablers to webinar use? How is it being used as a teaching and learning tool and what are the techniques? How are colleagues evaluating experiences and is there any emerging best practice? What did we do?
  6. 6. • School / Faculty Academics • TEL Champs • PGCAP Academics • CELT Staff • IT Services Staff Who did we talk to? 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 < 1 year 1-3 Years 4-6 Years Over 6 Years NumberofInterviewees Experience Webinar Delivery Experience
  7. 7. Common Teaching Use “I use Skype for one to one sessions, but that’s revision and support, not really webinar stuff. But it seems to work.” “They’re on industrial placements and they come back in September. So half the course takes place while they’re away from the university via Google Hangout.” “About 5 people couldn’t make it in and they were able to sort of take part because I sat in front of the screen and they were literally a face amongst all the other people.” “The first week is face to face, then it’s all webinars. There’s their portfolio and blog they have to develop, but as far as my contact goes, it’s YouTube and Collaborate only.” 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Fully Online Delivery Support for F2F Learners Blended Professional / Block Delivery Projection of Classroom Environment Online
  8. 8. “its a bit like running a radio show, where you read the requests!” “Make sure your slides are all set and have space for interactive elements, quizzes, polls, that kind of thing.” “Have an agenda, puts timings on it. It's really great when people start running with the topic, but you need to be able to cut that off, you need to have key things you to get through.” Planning
  9. 9. “I asked them to join a hangout. Just to say hello one evening. Its from Gilly Salmons 5 steps, access and motivation and online socialisation.” 1) Offer induction materials and support for initial access. 2) Identify and approach confident participants to support others, use the community. 3) Begin with a low stakes activity, allow a session just to experience the activities. “We ran a F2F induction session and online orientation session at the start of the course. We explained the technology and equipment involved, and then ran a low risk session not related to actual teaching.” Preparing Staff and Participants “I found some of them had used it before, so if others had technical issues I encourage them to ask each other on Google+.”
  10. 10. “Make sure you get as much involvement from those participating as possible. Don't see it as simply taking somebody through a series of information. It needs to be a two way process.” “If you're just going to transmit stuff, or even if you just want a synchronous interaction, then you could do this on YouTube with the comments and discussion there, but if you want dialogue, fresh dialogue, steaming heads and exchanges then use webinars for it. ” “If you deliver it in a way that it seems the participants aren’t there, its pretty likely that soon they won’t be. If it’s being recorded then there no reason not to just watch it at a more convenient time.” “If your asking a load of questions, and getting people to answer. Whether it's the learners, or an expert, that's maybe where webinars are really successful. For me, I found them least successful if I'm broadcasting a lecture, and there's no interaction. .” Activities
  11. 11. Formal • Institutional Surveys • Focus Groups • Observations (recorded) Responsive • Observations (live) • Reflective reports • Back channel (Twitter / Chat) prompts “You could do some formal stuff, but I think the most important thing is to respond in real time to the situation and evaluate its effectives there and then, rather than review it at the end of term, or even evaluate it at the end of the week.” Evaluation Techniques “So really what I should've done is prepare a questionnaire at least that we could then have distributed people with set questions and then maybe some open questions as well.”
  12. 12. • Move from planning to present, to planning to engage. • Support access, motivation and online socialisation through low stakes initial activity. • Deliver didactic content outside the webinar. Use the webinar time for interaction and dialogue. • Evaluate in real time and be responsive. Overview of Recommendations
  13. 13. “The irony is that you think, well if I can do this in a webinar, then I can do this in the classroom. Less broadcast style lectures, more interactive engagement. So its actually changing and improving my classroom behaviour!”
  14. 14. • Calum Thomson – • Rod Cullen - Questions? We have some for you…