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TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 Starters An overview of webinars

2 Utensils Webinar hardware & platforms

3 Recipes Webinar formats

4 Ingredients Webinar activities

5 Cooks Webinar presenters & moderators

Video bank Glossary

INTRODUCTION I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then I just ate Julia Childs I still remember the first online event I ever attended. It was 1997, long before video-conferencing was widespread. It took place via audio, and it was an all-day online conference for English language teachers. Armed with some sandwiches and a thermos flask of coffee (my association of food with online events dates way back), I sat at my desk at home and listened to a series of invited speakers talk about current developments in the field. It felt revolutionary. It felt like the future. And indeed it was. It would take at least another decade before online events and workshops would become as common as, well, lunch.

Why this book? Since that first online event experience, I've attended and given countless webinars. Originally these were via text chat and/or audio, with my learners on an online MA programme. Back then the majority of my learners had dial-up connections only. Video-conferencing was prohibitively expensive, required broadband connections, and webcams were rare. But times have changed. Video-conferencing is ubiquitous, many platforms are free (or reasonably priced), and both learners and teachers have better access to far faster Internet connections. Hence this book. Because if you haven't yet attended a webinar, you should. They are a fantastic free professional development resource for educators. And if you haven't yet given a webinar, you could. This book shows you how to give great webinars.

Who is this book for? Imagine you have something to share with other educators. A project you carried out with your learners, some cool teaching ideas, thoughts on learning... Offering a webinar on the topic is a great way to create some buzz, share ideas and get other educators involved and interested. Imagine you teach a class online. Offering regular synchronous (in real time) classes is a great way to help an online group gel. It also helps you to establish that all-important online sense of presence. And most importantly, with preparation, an online class can be a useful learning experience for your students.

In short, this book is for: •

all educators interested in exploring the options provided by real-time ('synchronous') online communication

and especially •

teachers of online classes

online conference/webinar presenters and moderators

This book is a comprehensive guide to running great webinars. Whether you're an old webinar hand, or have never attended or run one before, you'll find useful advice and ideas based on over a decade of experience in organising, attending and running webinars. Giving a great webinar is like cooking and serving a good meal. This metaphor frames the book. So let's get into the kitchen, and start cooking!

What special features does this e-book have? As an e-book, there are several nifty extra features that you won't find in a print book: •

Video extracts from real live webinars, showing activities or tools in action

Detailed screenshots to help you learn how video-conferencing platforms work

A hyperlinked glossary to useful external online sources

You'll also find a series of tasks or 'challenges' to help you explore tools and techniques in more depth. You have 5-minute, 10-minute and 30-minute challenges to choose from at the end of each chapter. You can do these challenges yourself in order to develop your own webinar skills. And you can use them in teacher training or development sessions if you work with other educators.

1 STARTERS An overview of webinars I don't like gourmet cooking or "this" cooking or "that" cooking. I like good cooking James Beard Good cooking requires three basic things: cooking utensils (pots, pans, oven or stove...), a cook, ingredients (the fresher the better) and a recipe. Running a good webinar is not unlike preparing a good meal. You need your webinar utensils (the platform), a cook (the webinar presenter), ingredients (the content and activities – the more engaging the better), and a recipe (an overall structure or plan). A judicious combination of utensils, recipe and ingredients in the hands of a good cook results in a good meal. The combination of an appropriate webinar platform, with well-structured content and activities in the hands of a good presenter results in a good webinar. Let's not forget that a good meal is also nutritious. Well, so is a good webinar. Your webinar should provide a learning experience for your participants, and at the very least, food for thought.

What is a webinar? The Internet offers a wealth of information, resources and events. A veritable smorgasbord of possibilities. Educators have easy access to a huge range of free educational resources. These include course materials and lesson plans, articles, PhD theses, online conferences, recorded lectures, slideshows, audio and video podcasts, blogs, videos, online discussion groups and networks....and online events like webinars. A webinar is a seminar offered via the Internet or web: web + seminar = webinar. Here is how to spot a webinar: •

Webinars are often free (but not always).

They are 'synchronous' events (they take place in real time).

They have participants (the audience).

They often take place via video-conferencing (or via audio, or even via text chat).

They usually last about an hour (but can be longer or shorter).

They are often open to the general public (but can be for a closed group).

They are frequently one-off (but can form part of a series).

A webinar is not exactly the same as an online class, although they share many features in common.

Although we use the term 'webinar' throughout this book, all of the tips, technology and techniques explored can be applied to online classes.

5 key ingredients of a great webinar Great dishes have a subtle blend of individual spices and flavours that together make something delicious. Webinars also need a judicious blend of ingredients to make your webinar not just palatable, but great. Let's look at each of these ingredients in turn:



What else is in Chapter 1? •

5 key ingredients of a great webinar

Example webinars

The 5 / 10 / 30 challenge


2 UTENSILS Webinar hardware & platforms Our toaster has two settings: too soon or too late Sam Levenson When preparing a meal we first need to choose our utensils. We choose the pots, pans and implements we're going to need. A saucepan, garlic crusher, wooden spoon...For a webinar, we need to first decide on a platform. Sometimes we don't have a choice. Sometimes we are spoiled for choice and don't know where to start. And we need hardware. Platform, headset, webcam.... The hardware (utensils) we need will depend on the platform we use.

Utensils (hardware) The webinar hardware you need includes:

Let's examine our utensils one by one. Choosing the best options for each is important. •

Computer: You can run a webinar from a desktop, laptop or tablet computer. A laptop or tablet computer will give you a bit more mobility, but be aware that not all tablet computer operating systems are compatible with all webinar platforms (some video-conferencing platforms require programs such as Java to be installed, for example, and your tablet may not support this). The most important things about your computer are: it can be connected to the Internet, it has a fast processor and enough RAM (memory) to deal with videoconferencing, and it has up-to-date software installed.


Internet connection: A broadband connection is best, with your computer connected via an ethernet cable rather than Wi-Fi (see below for why).

Broadband Wi-Fi works fine, but generally speaking it is less reliable than a broadband cable connection. •

Headset: A headset and microphone with a USB connection is best. A jack connection (two separate cables) also works fine, but you will get slightly better audio quality with a USB connection.

Webcam: If you use a desktop computer, you will need to connect an external webcam (web camera) for video-conferencing (most laptops these days already have a built in webcam). With external web cams, you get what you pay for. A very cheap webcam will show a lower quality image. For video-conferencing, you might want to invest in an inexpensive middle range webcam.

Faulty utensils What about potential hardware problems? You wouldn't use a cracked casserole dish for a stew, or a blunt knife to chop onions. Similarly, you shouldn't use unreliable tools for your webinars! Hardware to avoid includes:

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What else is in Chapter 2? •

Hardware to avoid

Overview of platforms

Text chat: what is it; why use it; the downside; text platforms; examples

Twitter & Facebook for text-based webinars & chats

5 key ingredients of a great text-based webinar

Recommended free public text-based webinars you can attend

Audio & video-conferencing: what is it; why use it; the downside; platforms

Webinar video examples

5 key ingredients of a great video-conferencing webinar

The 5 / 10 / 30 challenge


3 RECIPES Webinar formats If God had intended us to follow recipes, he wouldn't have given us grandmothers Linda Henley When I was a small child, my mother gave us exactly the same dinner at 6PM every day: a boiled egg and toast. Result? I hate boiled eggs, and haven't eaten one for decades. Nobody likes monotony, or having the same thing dished up day after day. The same goes for webinars. Webinars all too often consist of a presenter talking through a series of PowerPoint slides to a passive online audience. This 'talk and chalk' lecture style may be fine for short periods of times, or now and again, but it all too soon becomes a boring diet of information on a plate. Often we are not even invited to taste (that is, engage with) the information. Our reactions and opinions are not required. Our input is not solicited. Our questions are not answered. There are many different ways you can structure your webinar to make it engaging for your participants. In this chapter there are five general recipes or formats to help you do this. Like any recipe, once you have mastered the basics, you will want to make it your own, by adding a dash of this and a pinch of that.

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What else is in Chapter 3? •

5 webinar formats

Scenarios and examples

Tips and considerations for planning your webinar

5 key ingredients of great webinar formats

The 5 / 10 / 30 challenge


4 INGREDIENTS Webinar activities There are five elements: earth, air, fire, water and garlic Louis Diat In Chapter 1, we saw that a webinar needs a judicious blend of ingredients to make it not just palatable, but great. We saw that five key ingredients are: planning, engagement, interaction, variety, and technology. In this chapter we look at specific activities for your webinar – the micro-ingredients, if you will. These micro-ingredients also need to be planned, engaging, include interaction, be varied, and use a range of the technology (or tools) offered by your platform. We first look at icebreaker activities that you can use at the beginning of a webinar (the hors d'oeuvres). Then we look at activities that can be carried out during the main content part of your webinar (the main course). Finally, there are activities that can be used to finish or round up your webinar (dessert).

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What else is in Chapter 4? •

How to prepare webinar activities

Hors d'oeuvres: icebreaker activities

The main course: content activities

Dessert: closing activities

Tools and activities mapping

Tips and considerations for planning activities

5 key ingredients of great activities

The 5 / 10 / 30 challenge


5 COOKS Webinar presenters & moderators I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food W.C. Fields No meal is prepared without a cook. And the better the cook, the better the meal. The same goes for webinars. The presenter is the one who brings everything together and creates a great 'meal' (webinar experience). How exactly does she do this? By using the best utensils (platform) for the job. By having a good recipe to guide her (a clear structure and aim for the webinar). And with a judicious use of varied ingredients (activities). But let's not forget the individual flair that each cook brings to a meal. The good webinar presenter also needs to be engaging and interesting. Delivering your content in a monotone from endless bullet points on PowerPoint slides, or simply reading a lecture, will make for a very dull meal indeed! The cook's job is also made easier by having a kitchen assistant. In a webinar, the presenter's job is made easier by having a moderator's support and help.

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What else is in Chapter 5? •

Presenter versus moderator

The webinar moderator: what to do before, during and after the webinar

5 key ingredients of great moderators

The webinar presenter: what to do before, during and after the webinar

5 key ingredients of great webinar presenters

The 5 / 10 / 30 challenge


Webinars - free sample  

A sample from the forthcoming book at the round