Stream 57 recently hosted a webcast panel discussion on “E-Learning and Online Training in the Face of the Flu, the Recession and the Demand for Better Education.” The panel shared a variety of insights on how to use technology for learning events and best practices for interacting with online audiences.
Throughout the discussion, a live audience participated by responding to polls and asking questions via chat. One interesting poll question was “What is the best way to successfully keep the audience engaged during teachings and trainings?” The audience responded that polling (42%), testing (38%) and chatting (17%) are good ways to engage an online audience. Only 4% of the audience thought that live video of the presenter is enough. I couldn’t agree more. In my experience those who are new to the area of delivering training via web conference will focus on the live video feature of a web conference. While it’s certainly helpful to be able to see the person who is speaking, if your interactivity starts and stops with a live video, you will quickly lose the attention of your audience.
The panel discussed a related question on how to prepare your instructors for teaching online. Brian O’Donnell from Centocor Ortho Biotech commented that teaching online is a teachable skill. Andrej Petroski from Harrisburg University suggested that instructors need to practice teaching online and think about the learner experience. He suggested attending webinars and paying attention to what you like and don’t like about the experience. I have utilized this method of attending webinars and observing the teaching techniques. There are so many creative ways to engage a learner in an online audience, and from every webinar I attend I can either pick up a new technique to try out or note something that didn’t work well in a session. Step-by-step, this is a great way to master the art of teaching to an online audience. And best of all, you can usually do this for free on your lunch hour.