It probably comes as no surprise to you that I think webinars are great! But, let’s be honest, nothing will ever replace ongoing, professional development presented in person. Webinars offer great promise when used as part of what I call an ideal “healthy professional development diet” that include formal training, on the job coaching, mentoring, readings, reflections, self-assessments, or other extensions, conferences, networking, peer-to-peer experiences, and online learning.
Because onsite training and conferences are expensive, and often requires travel, webinars and other online learning experiences like video and asynchronous e-learning can play an important part in a well-rounded PD plan. Of course, every organization is as different as the individuals who comprise the staff, so every Healthy PD diet will vary, depending on resources, time available for PD, philosophy, learning needs and styles, and other factors. The big idea here is to look carefully at the needs of the staff in your program as a group and individually to determine what ideal means in your context. In other words, my diagram on the right is a template, not an exact formula to be replicated. Are you with me?
H0w we see Early Childhood Investigations webinars within the context of a Healthy PD Diet
Our objective with Early Childhood Investigations webinars is to offer opportunities for you and your staff members to experience presentations by experts who you would only be otherwise able to experience if you had the luxury of time and money.
We know that the best model for professional development includes a variety of modalities offered as long term, ongoing formal and informal experiences. So, we plan our webinars to expand educators’ palates to new ideas, information and resources designed to pique interests. The goal is to provide an array of important topics presented by the foremost authorities in each area of exploration. This virtual learning smorgasbord provides nibbles that whet appetites for more in-depth experiences. Every webinar offers additional resources, extensions, a Reflections Form, and of practical information that can be applied immediately in order to set the table for a veritable career-long feast.
Embracing the concept of a healthy professional development diet helps educators work around the pitfalls and take advantage of the primary benefit of webinars: Spanning time and distance. Here are just a few tips that educators can use to make the most out of webinars:
- Build upon strengths and bolster areas that need growth: Select the webinars that will be most applicable to you, each learner and your staff as a whole.
- Participate in the webinar along with staff members.
- Encourage (or require) the participants (or yourself) to:
- complete the polls, ask questions, and share ideas through the Questions Pane.
- complete the Reflections Form we offer in every webinar or otherwise offer reflections on the webinar.
- share the concepts learned in webinars formally at staff meetings, or informally with peers.
- apply what has been learned in their work and document and/or report the results.
- use the additional resources and links suggested in the webinars to explore the topic in deeper detail.
- revisit the webinar by watching the recordings and reviewing the slides and handouts.
- build career lattices with Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from University of Oklahoma.
- add certificates of attendance from the webinars to their PD portfolios and/or State Workforce Registries.
- pursue more information about the topic.
- connect with peers or mentors who are interested in the topic. Use social media or in-person networking groups.
- Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and follow our blog.)