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Post webinar reflections

November 11, 2010

This week, I finished a series of webinars (4 weekly 90 minute sessions).  While it’s fresh, I thought I’d jot down my reflections.  It’s only fair, it’s what I suggested the participants do! 

  1. Have a back up plan – on all of my sessions, there was one thing that didn’t go as planned (kind of like at a wedding, where there’s always one little disaster).  I mostly just glossed though when something didn’t go as planned – they didn’t know it. 
  2. Anything technically dicey (trying to co-browse, playing video, etc) I relegated to nice-to-have status.  Just in case.
  3. Co-presenting one of the sessions (sadly, the last) was great and if I do this type of session again, I’d definitely build that in. I thought it would be good to have some in-house learning folks speak about their experiences.  There’s always that ridiculous fear of consultants to contend with, so I brought in someone else to diffuse it.  Worked really well, and I think it enhanced the learning over all.  Plus, he reinforced what I had presented, which helped the participants feel good about the content.
  4. I used images rather than bullet points when possible, but wonder if webinar and face-to-face presos are different beasts.  Too many images and listening just to me prattle on might have been kind of, well, boring.  So, I mixed it up – some pictures, some models, some bullets (I know, I’m sorry to disappoint)
  5. In between one session and the next I assigned some homework.  People were diligent on that.  The next week I didn’t call it homework, but included a bunch of suggested web sites, videos, or readings.  No one looked at them.  I was completely thrown by that.  I must really be a goody-two-shoes, as I would have looked at *every single one of them*.  Be specific in instructions, I guess.
  6. I really wanted to use the participants’ actual work challenges in the session and it worked really well when I used one of the participant’s situation for case study, so will definitely do that again.  It wasn’t hard and it got them jazzed.
  7. I hoped we would be able to use the professional association’s online community to continue the discussion, but didn’t seem to get much interest on that front.  Maybe they weren’t that interested in keeping connected?  I reiterated that learning is a process, not an event, and that it would be great to have a cohort to ask questions to.  Granted, I didn’t sell it that hard and I didn’t really build a place on the online community just for this purpose, so might be the reason why.
  8. I thought about the “social” aspect of this and while I really wanted to see myself as collaborating with this group, I don’t know that it is totally spontaneous.  OK, so probably the fact that they had their phones muted and I was the only one talking might have had something to do with it, but the alternative of competing hold music or background noise from everyone makes group conversations like that hard.  I had to work on the social part of it.  Asked questions, involved them through chat as much as possible.  It is easier to just let them be passive, I think.  It will be interesting to see what the participants thought of it.
  9. I missed Twitter as a way to enhance things- very few of the participants are on Twitter (or blog, or use other SoMe tools) – and I was surprised to see how much I referenced Twitter or wanted to retweet things to them and couldn’t.  It might have been the Twitterfest that DevLearn was (#dl10) thanks to @sumeet_moghe (backchannel rock star who blogged his thoughts, too) or Enterprise 2.0 (#e2conf) the last couple of weeks, but it still snuck up on me how much I use Twitter.  I did suggest they subscribe to my Daily!
  10. I had a thought – maybe I should have approached it from a “Flip” perspective (here’s a blog post describing Flip – reverse instruction).  I treated it fairly traditionally (which is what the paying audience expected), but maybe sending them content ahead of time and spending the actual webinar time could have been used in a case study.  I did use case studies, but the whole thing should have been more case study. 

Maybe next time…

Got any webinar suggestions for me for next time?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2010 5:25 pm

    This self-eval of your recent Webinar series is great, Holly! I admire your willingness to be so open as to put it out here so all of us can learn through your experience!

    As to your #7 — Coming from the association world, I can tell you that I used to push for increased post-event interaction — in our case, via blogs and wikis — but couldn’t garner the enthusiasm beyond getting the sites launched and they very quickly faded.

    I don’t know the organization you’re referencing here, but chances are the staffing is just too small and time far too limited to undertake the initiative, assuming the staff at the association appreciates the value of continuing the conversation after the “official” event is over.

    With a staff of two full-timers and some part-time support staff help, we juggled up to 14 face-to-face events, most of them more than two days long; several of them about a week in length each. We also offered an asynchronous online course and about two Webinars a year. Despite all I wanted to do to enhance learner interaction, provide more hands-on activities prior to, within, and after an event — etc etc — I never had the time nor resources. Our mindset was always on what was coming up.

    I was gifted with many, many devoted volunteers, including an interested education committee, but they had full-time jobs and even more limited time than I had.

    Suggestions? Perhaps working out ahead of time how you might leverage the association’s online community will help — including working with the appropriate staff member at the association to find out who might be able to do what, including who will introduce new topics or provide links to relevant Web resources, etc.

    It’s also possible that the organization’s online community is “closed” and they were somehow reluctant to let you in (assuming you are not an association member or perhaps outside that membership category). Another possibility is that their system is awkward to use for this purpose and would require more logistical management than they are willing to give to it for this purpose (hard as it is for us education-types to fathom!!).

    Just a few thoughts that might or might not help 😉 I do hope that you’ll pursue the idea in the future, as so many professional associations exist primarily to educate their members. If you can help them do that, it’s hard to believe they won’t figure out a way to make it work.

    • hollymacdonald permalink*
      November 14, 2010 9:18 am

      Hi Ellen – thanks for taking the time to comment. I am a member of this association and did the webinar series as a volunteer activity. I also helped build the online community (which is closed, but the majority of participants are members, too) on a voluntary basis. The association is very open to the whole idea and I am viewed favorably by the ass’n. No issues there.

      The issues are (I think) two-fold: one is that the people who signed up for this weren’t actively involved in the online community and the second is that the community itself is having a hard time maintaining momentum. If I had built the online community portion ahead of time, it would have likely been mildly successful. Not wildly, but mildly. The community manager’s contract ended and it has now been added to the pro-d group, who already have too much to do.

      It is a challenge for associations. This one (an HR ass’n) manages the certification exams and continuing ed credits, which I fear monopolizes their energy. It’s a challenge for organizations as well. It’s the tension that understanding learning is a process not an event brings. We want to contain it and define it, but it’s not really that cut and dry. Applies to individuals too, who think that once they’ve taken a course that they’ll be transformed and realized that they ‘got a few nuggets’ from it. My opinion anyway.


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