Esther Barrett is an eLearning adviser with Jisc RSC Wales

As a teacher I know that you need a different approach towards online learning and planning than traditional classroom study. Over the last few years budgets across FE and skills have become tighter and tighter, which has meant a squeeze on the funds available for face-to-face meetings.

At the same time emerging telecommunication technologies have become more available. These two factors mean many traditional educational activities have moved online. And web conferencing has become the go-to choice for many of us when we want to bring people together. That's why Jisc has been working hard to ensure that the FE and skills sector gets the best out of these sessions so that, even when you can't meet, you can still connect, share and engage.

A web conference is an online event bringing together groups of people for meetings, presentations, teaching and training. Participants can interact using voice, video, chat, and response tools. It allows events to be shared online with remote participants around the world in real-time. It can work well for person-to-person communications or for multicast communications (one sender to many receivers). And it has the advantage of being easy to record and share with people who couldn't be there on the day.

Web conferencing isn't just useful in teaching and learning. We've all sat through our fair share of boring online presentations and uninspired meetings. So Jisc has produced a new toolkit to help plan and deliver web-conferencing that will really engage the attendees and help get the best out of the session, whether as part of a course or for planning and management. There are three main areas in which web conferencing really comes into its own for the FE and skills sector.

Teaching and learning

On-going teaching and learning using web conferencing tools.

Webinars

One-off or a series of events. These are most useful for presentations, seminars, and disseminating information.

Meetings

Routine meetings, consultations or briefings. Save time and money by meeting online.

The toolkit focuses especially on best practice in delivering creative and exciting sessions, for teaching and learning, webinars and meetings. If you're thinking about starting to use web conferencing then take a look at it for inspiration about creating engaging sessions. There are also programmes like the Certified Online Learning Facilitator course which can help increase your confidence and knowledge when you're starting to develop your own sessions.

Whether you're an old hand or just getting started it's easy to find ways to improve your content and delivery. How to utilise images, text, your voice and the interactive features of the platform you're using to make sure all participants are actively involved in the session. And how to use voting, typing and talking to promote different types of interaction. The best way to learn is of course by attending and holding events yourself. See what works for you and what doesn't. You can save money, save time and hold great events all from the comfort of your desk!

Esther Barrett is an eLearning adviser with Jisc RSC Wales, working to support learning providers across Wales using technology for teaching and learning

 

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