Working Differently – Webinars Extend Research, Influence of Presenter, Provide Education on Demand

At the 2012 National eXtension Conference in Oklahoma City, three panelists talked about their experience and successes offering webinars for the public. The panelists were:

Dairy Cattle — Donna Amaral-Phillips, University of Kentucky

Military Families — Sarah Baughman, Virginia Tech

Organic Agriculture —Debra Heleba, University of Vermont

What are the benefits for the presenters?
• Reach an audience beyond state boundaries. Live and archived webinars have been viewed by people in the United Kingdom, Canada, South America and Indonesia as well as across the United States.
• More convenient than traveling to make a presentation or writing an article. Information can be presented verbally with accompanying slides and videos.
• Value-added learning – the recording can be used in credit and noncredit classes.

What are the benefits to the eXtension community of practice?
Expand the reach of research and educational information.
Enhance online connections.
Build connections between the people viewing the live webinar.

How do you decide the topics of webinars?
• Ask for ideas in the webinar evaluation.
• Focus on timely and emerging topics.
• Disseminate recent research results particularly research done through grants.
• Create a web committee of a county educator, area educator and several specialists. In a one-hour conference call, brainstorm topics, prioritize them, and assign committee members to search for good speakers on the selected topics.

What tips do you have to make webinars successful?
• Practice – A week or more before the webinar, have the presenter do an audio check and make sure the uploaded slides and video are as he or she expected.
• Focus — Hone the topic to information that can be covered in the time allotted. Think about the archived webinar which will probably have a larger audience than the live webinar; a listener may find a 30-minute recording less formidable than a 120-minute one.
• Accreditation – Provide credit through professional organizations.
• Promotion – List the webinar in learn.extension.org, feature on the CoP homepage, use CoP and individuals’ social media, send out in electronic newsletters, use traditional promotion methods such as news releases.
• Evaluation – Use quick poll of three questions at end of webinar to give presenter immediate feedback. Collect email addresses in chat box before webinar recording begins, keep evaluation short and simple asking only for information you will use, use Instant Survey which is available to all eXtension contributors.

Other tips
Create a fact sheet for speakers.
Have a disaster plan – extra computers, PowerPoints, recordings.
Post the archived webinar on YouTube, embed in eXtension web pages.
Include webinar expenses, pay for presenter in grants. Make webinar production and communication a core function of Community of Practice work.
Work with industry partners including industry media to get promotion of live and archived webinars.

Thanks to John Blue from Truffle Media for recording this session. The recording is available at http://www.trufflemedia.com/agmedia/audio/2012/12/03537/lynette-spicer-how-do-webinars-enhance-extension-communities-practice
The session handout is at http://create.extension.org/node/94449.
Related link: How to Write Superior Event Descriptions for learn.eXtension.org, http://create.extension.org/node/87543