Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
It is no doubt that we are currently facing the most challenging situation we have ever experienced due to the public health crisis we are currently experiencing. As Extension continues to function during these chaotic times due to the Corona virus pandemic by shifting from face to face programming to remote program delivery or distance education. In this installment of Next Step to Success we are going to discuss Planning and Conducting an Effective Webinar.
In today’s world our clientele are inundated with information via technology. The most trending topic related to technology is Artificial Intelligence. Our clientele and more importantly, our future clientele are interfacing with Artificial Intelligence applications such as Siri™ and IBM Watson ™ for assistance in answering questions.
In today society change occurs at an accelerated rate. Adoption of innovative tools and technologies is at an all-time high (McGrath, 2013). Where it took 50 years for the telephone to reach 50 million users (Desjardins, 2018), it took only 19 days for Pokémon to do the same (Lim, 2016). In the world where we live and work, we are more interconnected than ever before (Pew Research Center, 2014) and yet increasingly divided (Gramlich, 2016). We are more educated than ever before and yet need more knowledge or information, and have the expectation that we find it at our fingertips on our smartphones and tablets (Jobs for the Future, 2013).
Experience has proven that in the changing educational environment where digital communication is a central platform, it is imperative to utilize technology to enhance Extension educational efforts (Robinson & Poling, 2017). One such resource that has been effectively utilized by Extension educators with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is the webinar. A webinar is a seminar or presentation that takes place live over the Internet, allowing clientele in different locations to see and hear presenters and interact with the presenters to ask questions, add to the discussion, and/or provide feedback (Pluth, 2010). Webinars are effective as educational tools in Extension because they allow the Extension professional to use a virtual setting to bring together and engage clientele from across a large geographic area (Johnson & Shumaker, 2016).
Based on a review of existing literature and research as well as practical trial-and-error experiences, the following best practices for planning effective webinars are recommended (Robinson & Poling, 2017);
Use the following best practices to deliver effective webinars (Robinson & Poling, 2017).
Incorporating these recommendations when planning and conducting a webinar can seem overwhelming, but they can make the difference between an effective, positive experience or a poor experience for both clientele and presenters (Robinson & Poling, 2017). If clientele have a positive experience, they are more likely to want to participate in other educational webinars as well as face-to-face educational meetings (Robinson & Poling, 2017). Utilizing webinars also saves time, travel costs, and other resources for both presenters and clientele (Robinson & Poling, 2017). Increasing the use of webinars as an educational delivery method can be a win-win situation for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and our clientele.
Desjardins, J. (2018, June 8). How long does it take to hit 50 million users? Retrieved from http://www.visualcapitalist.com/how-long-does-it-take-to-hit-50-million-users/
Gramlich, J. (2016, November 7). America’s political divisions in 5 charts. Retrieved from Pew Research Center website: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/07/americas-political-divisions-in-5-charts/
Johnson, C. L., & Shumaker, J. B. (2016). Does webinar-based financial education affect knowledge and behavior? Journal of Extension, 54(1), Article 1RIB2. Available at: https://joe.org/joe/2016february/rb2.php
Jobs for the Future. (2013). International trends in adult education and lifelong learning. Retrieved from https://jfforg-prod-prime.s3.amazonaws.com/media/documents/Adult_Ed_International_FINAL.PDF
Lim, J. (2016, July). Pokémon GO could be the answer to making augmented reality mainstream. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/jlim/2016/07/30/pokemon-go-could-be-the-answer-to-making-augmented-reality-mainstream/
McGrath, R. G. (2013). The pace of technology adoption is speeding up. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/11/the-pace-of-technology-adoption-is-speeding-up
Pew Research Center. (2014). Device ownership over time. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/datatrend/mobile/device-ownership/
Pluth, B. P. (2010). Webinars with wow factor. Tips, tricks, and interactive activities for virtual training. Chaska, MN: Pluth Consulting.
Robinson, J., & Poling, M. (2017). Engaging Participants without Leaving the Office: Planning and Conducting Effective Webinars. Journal of Extension, 55 (6), Article 6TOT9. Available at: https://www.joe.org/joe/2017december/pdf/JOE_v55_6tt9.pdf