WEBINAR Programme

WEBINAR is a web-based seminar that is synchronous, interactive and can be accessed anywhere in the world. The Researcher Development WEBINAR programme is designed to mirror our face-to-face programmes and provide training and development for part-time and distance PGRs.

Our WEBINARs are run over lunch time, ‘bite size’ at only an hour long, and are recorded so they are accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. You can access a list of our upcoming WEBINARs and book your place on My Career Zone, and access recordings of past WEBINARs through UoE Video and our ELE page.

We expand our WEBINAR programme each year, working with internal and external contributors to support and train them to deliver their workshops online.

Our WEBINARs are delivered using Skype for Business. Like our face-to-face workshops they use a combination of teaching strategies including lecture, discussion, group and individual activities. We achieve this through PowerPoint slides, audio delivery and a variety of inbuilt interactive tools including:

  • A chat box
  • Interactive whiteboards
  • Polls
  • Q&A

Our WEBINAR programme is a form of online rather than blended learning as it is intended to provide training and development opportunities for our distance PGRs. The synchronous and interactive qualities of WEBINARs provides a more considered learning experience for our distance PGRs than lecture-capture and recording, which is being increasingly problematised as a teaching and learning strategy (Edwards and Clinton, 2018). Instead our WEBINARs are designed for an online environment, mirroring the learning objectives and teaching strategies of our workshops whilst not simply reproducing or putting class materials or recordings online (Gracia-Cabrero et al., 2018: 814). For instance group discussions can be facilitated in Skype for Business using the interactive whiteboard which functions like virtual flip chart paper that all participants can type on to. This allows us to collate experiences and ideas in much the same way as in a face-to-face environment, and for students ‘to think and to engage with their own and other’s learning’ through group discussions and activities (Griffiths, 2008: 91). The aim is to provide a comparative learning experience with similar learning objectives and teaching strategies as we would use face-to-face, but facilitated by and translated in to an online environment. This includes the importance of informal learning and community building that are central to our workshop programme, where a significant proportion of student feedback references the benefit of meeting and sharing experiences with other PGRs.

Since we launched our WEBINAR programme in 2013, we have delivered 118 WEBINARs to 2037 PGRs.

The number of WEBINARs run per academic year and the number of attendees has doubled from launching the programme in 13/14 to the 18/19 academic year. Feedback on our WEBINArs includes:

  • ‘It felt very personal.  Being distance-based, it was great to feel connected.’
  • ‘I like that the slides and recordings are easily available.’
  • ‘Presented some fantastic resources while responding to individual questions.’

A surprising amount of campus-based students largely attend and prefer our online training commenting. Students have noted in feedback on our WEBINARs that they like the ‘convenience of doing it from home’ or in their lab/office and also the ‘bite-sized’ nature of this 1 hour online training. PGR feedback echoes the importance of the presenter in building rapport through interaction with comments in the chat box, always taking note of and responding to student comments and questions.

The team collaborates with the Technology Enhanced Learning team to deliver training on the pedagogical and logistical aspects of delivering WEBINARs (the pedagogical and the logistical being fundamentally intertwined, as interactivity is dependent on the affordances of the system).

Delivering the training as a WEBINAR allows colleagues to get, as noted in feedback; ‘a feel of what it would be like for students’. From a pedagogical perspective, this ‘getting a feel’ of what the learning experience is like for students communicates the importance and impact of interactive teaching and learning in this environment.

We have so far trained and supported a number of external consultants in WEBINAR delivery, alongside colleagues from:

  • Academic Development
  • Career Zone
  • College of Humanities
  • College of Life and Environment Sciences
  • College of Social Sciences and International Studies
  • Education Incubator
  • Wellbeing Services

 To support colleagues running their own WEBINARs, we have developed training materials on:

  • How to set up and run a WEBINAR in Skype for Business
  • Skype for Business download information for students
  • WEBINAR troubleshooting for attendees

If you are interested in training and support in developing your own WEBINARs, please contact Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Programme Manager (k.preece@exeter.ac.uk). If you require technical support with Skype for Business, please contact SiD.