Instructional Tools, Technology

Let’s Make Webinars Great Again!

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“I can’t wait to get home and watch a webinar!” -said no one ever.

But, come on. Webinars have SUCH POTENTIAL! Why, oh, why are they so notoriously awful?

Webinars are something I’ve been optimistically toying with creating in tandem with an ongoing teacher training project at my work. I may have mentioned the work I do with teachers in previous entries, so I’ll keep the background curt.

I coordinate curriculum for a wide range of global education programs in schools across the country (and in Canada). Schools’ global education coordinators work with my company in order to go off the grid a bit more and work with some of the communities away from tourist centers to ensure high quality, meaningful intercultural exchange between students and community members. The program requires a fair degree of rugged travel traveling as locals do (trekking to rural villages; taking non air-conditioned trains or local busses) in addition to “austere” lodging (usually home-stays or 1- to 2-star guest houses). The students do fine and may struggle here and there, but are for the most part, readily adaptable and invested. Teachers, however, seem to be the least prepared, particularly where rugged travel and accommodations are involved, as well as in facilitating students in a more experiential/less didactic manner. After each course, the instructors at my company usually give the feedback that teachers could me more prepared, which naturally yields the question: how can we better prepare teachers for these courses? And, upon further thinking, the questions distills into:

  • How might we more efficiently prepare teachers for these courses? (ie: without providing too much more work or materials?
  • How might we speak candidly about the experience more so than curriculum?
  • How will teachers be most empowered to prepare themselves for a rugged travel course?
  • Who is the best mentor to help prepare teachers for immersive student travel abroad?
  • What might the safest audience be for teachers to ask candid questions?

I recently read an Endicott classmate’s discussion post about webinars and thinking about it in the context of professional development. Having been a teacher myself (I’ll be back in the classroom again one day!), I more readily trust another teacher’s recommendation or advice at face value versus that of a third party provider. In looking at these questions, I’m inspired/curious to start a “Teacher Ambassador Program” through my company, which might take the form of a variety of webinars. Essentially, it would involve expert, veteran teachers with global programming experience imparting wisdom, best practices, and lessons learned in the field. The webinar series may take place 3 times over the course of the year and could involve a few different topics (such as: facilitation or chaperone vs. mentor, or something like “How to Be Comfortable Being Uncomfortable 101,” etc.).

While but a start, I’m intrigued to expand my (somewhat informal) research and reach out to a few veteran teachers with respect to their initial thoughts and ideas as it relates to an ambassadorship.

Come on, people! Let’s make webinars great again for the first time ever.

[Photo by Julien-Pier Belanger on Unsplash]