Back in 2007 or 2008 I watched a professional development webinar for the first time. I can’t remember exactly what the webinar was about (it was something about Second Life), but I do remember thinking that I didn’t get “it.” After that I watched bunch of free webinars about all kinds of things because that’s what I thought I should do to be a modern teacher staying current in his practice. Finally, in late 2011 I paid to join a webinar and something weird happened, I got a lot more out of the experience. Since then almost every webinar I’ve attended, both free and paid, has been a good learning experience. Here’s what I figured out about learning from webinars.
1. Participate in live webinars, don’t just watch them.
Every webinar platform has some kind of chat or Q&A feature. Use it! Use it to ask the presenter questions. An experienced webinar presenter will be able to handle questions in real-time. Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions. Even when I’m attending webinars about things with which I’m already familiar, I make an effort to think of questions to ask. This forces me to tune-in and listen with more focus than if I was just listening in the hopes that something said by the presenter will jump out at me.
2. Close Facebook and take notes.
If I cannot attend the live version of a webinar, I still find great value in recorded webinars. When I watch recorded webinar I focus on it the same way I would during a live session. That means closing Facebook and taking notes in my notebook. In that notebook I write the questions that I want to send to the presenter via email.
3. Act on webinar ideas quickly.
When I participate in a webinar my participation isn’t over until I actually act on what I was just taught. Just like in a traditional classroom setting, it’s important to try for yourself what was just demonstrated for you. Do this as quickly as you can.