Not only have classrooms around the world moved online, but professional development has too. So, when you’re not in the classroom, you’re now in a different online platform for your professional development as well. The amount of time we spend in virtual rooms and at our screen is higher than ever. We’re always online! But have all of those online professional development events been useful? Chances are you’ve spent as much time trying to find quality professional development as you’ve spent in the training itself! Have you attended webinars where the tech doesn’t work? Where the topic isn’t quite what you thought? Have you rushed from one virtual room, clicked the next link and sat there, bored or uninspired? Or perhaps the webinar was great, but you missed a lot of great points because you were so busy trying to take notes.
At OUP we’ve been running online professional development since 2011, so we know what makes a great webinar! Today I’m sharing my 5 top tips for optimising your webinars with us, so you can focus on getting the most out of your valuable time (and leave the rest to us).
1. Connect with a global community
Technology brings us together and it gives us the chance to share ideas. Our teaching community is at the heart of everything we do, and attending our global online professional development is a great opportunity to connect with teachers around the world. We often see attendees from more than 100 countries joining our global webinars! This kind of connection feels even more important during the pandemic, at a time when teachers can feel more isolated than ever and education is in varying situations around the world. You might get to chat with teachers who have gone back to a socially distanced classroom, or who are only just going online.
2. Be selective and personalize your experience
How do you learn best? What topics matter to you most? At OUP we work to provide training on trending topics at a variety of times, so there’s something for everyone. Most online conferences provide a variety of sessions, but we know and understand that they aren’t relevant for everyone and we won’t penalize you for it. If you attend some of the webinars at the conference but not all, you’ll still get a certificate. When you’re in the room you can continue to be selective – if you learn best just by looking at the slides, you can minimize the chatbox and move around the video. Take full advantage of the webinar room features and tailor your experience!
3. Think beyond the presentation
In a way, online professional development is an online classroom. So while you can take tips from the presenter and presentation, you can also think about the way that the technology works (or doesn’t!) and consider how you might use that in your classroom. For example, I attended a professional development course recently where I was inspired by the way that the trainer used the hands-up function as a quick voting system, so after the session, I took a look at the tech we have and began to think about how we might use ‘hands up’ in future online professional development.
4. Make the most of the flexibility
You’ve got to make the most of being online! Remember that when you attend online professional development, you’re the student. While you can make it work for you in terms of what sessions you choose, you can also make the most of the flexibility of attending online. Join in your pyjamas, treat yourself to a handmade latte or join from your desk. Being online means you can optimize the convenience of attending from anywhere. I love having my coffee machine nearby!
5. Be present
A good webinar will be recorded and have presentation slides available afterwards. At OUP we always send recordings, handouts and presentation slides. We do this so that you don’t need to take notes or desperately try to remember what was said. You can really embrace the moment! Chat with our experts (and each other!), interact with the session and take the time to learn and ask questions.
Katy Corderoy is the marketing manager for the customer events team at OUP ELT. She joined OUP in 2017 with the objective of running the first online conference – this became what we now know as ELTOC. Katy has a masters in Children’s Literature and is currently studying for her PhD alongside full-time work. She is studying in the department for English Literature at the University of Reading. In her free time, Katy enjoys to travel and spending time with her cat Luna.