I was fortunate to be awarded a Walled Lake Consolidated Schools Foundation for Excellence Mini-Grant for my proposal "Professional Learning for Educators via Webinars." Time for professional learning is at a premium; there simply isn't enough time during staff meetings and scheduled PD Days. Teachers want and need more time to collaborate and explore as they learn new skills and instructional practices.
I wanted to find out whether educators would attend and find evening webinars valuable. Unlike many other aspects of teaching, technology changes constantly. Just as in any industry, it is vital that educators stay current with new trends and developments in both pedagogy and new technologies. Offering online learning opportunities to the teachers that I serve will help me better support them as they strive to keep up with rapid change. I wanted to try using a new webinar platform called Zoom, which is an online meeting and webinar platform that is user-friendly and has options for screen sharing, polling, and Q & A. Webinars can be recorded and reporting features are built-in and helpful for keeping track of attendee information needed for teacher recertification. In my role as an instructional technology coach, I thought that I would be better able to assist teachers as they discover ways to improve their instructional practices using technology tools.
I was awarded the grant in late February and was able to make the purchases and learn how to use the Zoom webinar platform fairly quickly. I surveyed staff to find out topics of interest and also to find out times and dates that would work best for the most people. Five webinars were scheduled based on this feedback.
The structure of each webinar was consistent. There was an overview presentation, followed by short demonstrations of how to use a tool as part of instructional practices. After each demonstration, attendees were given time to explore with opportunities to ask questions. The culmination of each webinar included some type of sharing so that attendees could show what they learned and discuss implementation into professional practices. This format was successful.
Five evening (7-8:00pm) webinars were offered:
- 03.27.2017: Safari Montage: Digital Content for your Classroom
- 04.12.2014: Universal Learning Supports: Co:Writer and Snap&Read
- 05.02.2017: The New Google Sites, Now Available to Students & Staff
- 05.18.2017: Illuminate DnA: Assessments and Reports (this one had two others hosting with me and it worked great!)
- 06.06.2017: Creating Interactive Activities with SMART Notebook
Attendees were invited to submit open-ended feedback after each webinar. Feedback was positive and people enjoyed the webinar format that I used. Comments:
- “I liked learning in this conducive environment. I loved it!”
- “I enjoyed learning how to get started using Safari Montage. I look forward to using it with my students.”
- “Co:Writer has way more options that I was aware of.”
- “I love these tools that I can use (Snap&Read and Co:Writer) to help my students!”
- “I appreciate the hands-on experiences with live guidance.”
- “I loved seeing examples of different kinds of Google Sites.”
- “I liked learning how easy it is to use the new Sites platform.”
- “I have a better feel for the kinds of Illuminate Reports I can access.”
- “I became more comfortable using Smart Notebook. The webinar sparked my enthusiasm for digging deeper into this valuable resource.”
Due to the success of the webinar series, I will continue to offer evening webinars on a regular basis throughout the 2017-2018 school year. I plan to review Spice it Up Conference attendance reports and invite the presenters of popular sessions to co-host webinars. I will also survey staff to help determine topics of interest for future webinars.
All webinars were recorded and posted on the Walled Lake Safari Montage portal. Check them out! Log in required.