Continuing with our expert webinar series, this time we hosted Shelly Sanchez Terrell, an expert in online learning and author of numerous books, including “The 30 Goals Challenge.” Shelly shared many informative tips on how to make your online classes engaging and collaborative. The audience also had many interesting questions, so we decided to share the best ones, along with Shelly’s answers:
What presenter background should I use?
One of the most popular options is a bookcase, because it looks… well… smart. Generally, choose a background and clothing in line with what looks well on the recording. I recommend avoiding wearing any kind of shiny jewelry, as it may affect your recording and distract the attendees. What’s more, make sure your light is set correctly – that you’re not in the dark or overexposed. Usually, the best position of the light is on your right side. It looks great on the recording.
What should I do if a user gets out of control?
Unfortunately, if one user gets out of control, it motivates the others to “have fun” as well. If this happens while using a whiteboard to which everybody has access, (and usually that’s the moment for “fun”), you can easily switch off whiteboard access for everybody. If you notice that the situation gets out of control, you need only one second to act. However, remember that well-behaved students also lose the chance to participate in the whiteboard exercise. So I recommend addressing the offending users on the private chat or openly to let them know that, because of their behavior, everybody loses their chance to participate actively in the exercise. However, if something really gets out of control, you can always ban a user by clicking on the user’s name and logging them out.
Should I look at the camera while presenting?
Looking at the camera is engaging, so it’s beneficial during a webinar. However, sometimes it might be difficult when you are the person responsible for presenting and moderating the chat box at the same time. In that case, it would be great if you could have a moderator. It’s a great opportunity to engage students, as well. For example, you can make one student a moderator, and he or she can collect all the questions from the chat box. The other one could be responsible for taking care of the chat box, banning misbehaving users if needed or simply taking care of technical difficulties that may emerge. The more help you get from the outside, the more you can focus on your presentation and on looking at the camera, so that’s a win-win solution!
Should I make a collaborative webinar?
Guest speakers always make your webinar more dynamic. One option is to collaborate with your students and give them an opportunity to present something on the chosen subject. This changes the webinar dynamics and engages your class. Also, you can always invite an expert. In that case, students usually feel that the class is important, because they have a chance to speak to somebody with great expertise in a particular field. Hence, they’re focused and engaged in the Q&A. When you host a collaborative webinar, you can join as an organizer, welcome the class, explain a few things, and then switch off your camera and yield the floor to the guest speaker. Just remember that a webinar class is different from a class in real life, so don’t follow the typical order of a standard lesson. With webinars, you have an opportunity to make learning more engaging, informative… and fun!
How long should a webinar last?
It should last around 30 minutes. Remember that students still have the reading material to analyze or projects to do. So with a webinar, you want them to understand the material and get excited about it. But at the same time, you have to acknowledge that there are other instructional materials they need to dive into.
What’s the ideal number of participants for engaging classes?
It depends on whether you’re experienced in hosting the webinar classes or not. Remember that the number of people who register for the class will be higher than the number who attend. Many people register just for the recording.
Regarding the number of attendees and collaboration, you have to decide how interactive you want your webinar to be. If you plan a very interactive webinar, I recommend one moderator for every 100 students. If you’re beginning your journey with webinars, start with the lower numbers of students – under 100 participants. With time and experience, you’ll be able to increase that number.
How long should I wait for the latecomers?
Try to start the webinar on time. Once it begins, start the recording, and the latecomers can watch the entire lesson afterward. However, at the end, you can always address the fact that it’s beneficial to be on time to be more engaged in the class. Also, pinpoint the starting and the ending time and emphasize that students should respect the time to join the event. Just bear in mind that you should also respect the time frame. Don’t start the webinar later or prolong it, as the students might get confused, which can lead to them not respecting your time.
Should I use a lot of features during my first webinar?
If you aren’t sure of how the platform works, test each tool with somebody with more experience. And of course, practice before you go live. When you get familiar with your webinar platform, it will make you a better presenter as you will be able to use more features for engagement and collaboration. When you feel more confident, you can always try to make your webinar more interactive.
Shelly’s answer are quite useful, aren’t they? Hopefully, they will help you transform your online class into an engaging learning experience! Any questions – don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We’ll get back to you shortly.
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