Sunday, March 22, 2009

Masie’s Missed Opportunity

This week the Institute for Corporate Productivity teamed up with Elliot Masie of the MASIE Center Learning Lab and Think Tank to deliver a webinar on Informal & Social Learning. While the content of the webinar was interesting (a summary of findings of research conducted by i4cp with commentary/interpretation by Masie), the delivery was a missed opportunity by Masie to model best practices for utilizing web conferencing software. A few observations:

1. The first three minutes: My first post on this blog was based on an article by Masie about the importance of the first three minutes of learning, which set the tone for the rest of an event. In this case the first three minutes consisted of an overview of findings as the audience viewed a title slide (not even a slide with key findings). A much more compelling opening would have been to turn some of the more interesting findings into questions for the audience such as, “What was the #1 practice correlated with the occurrence of informal learning?” (answer: sharing best practices).

2. Duration of each slide: About halfway into the webinar, one slide remained on the screen for 9 minutes as the speakers talked, and the final content slide stayed up for a whopping 12 minutes! Keeping your audience engaged and attentive is an art not a science, but in this case the delivery team could have easily included a few more interesting slides to support their commentary.

3. Q & A: The last ten minutes of the session were dedicated to Q & A. A good delivery team can weave the questions and answers throughout the web conference. If questions are collected throughout the session, the producer needs to be on the lookout for questions that map to a particular piece of content and get the speaker to incorporate questions from the audience during the entire session.

Every time we use learning technology, even for a presentation that is not meant to be a true learning event, we have the opportunity to practice what we preach about adult learning. Masie's content was intriguing, as always, but the delivery needed more polishing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Rich and engaging interactivity is one of the reasons that events delivered via web conference are so compelling. At an online presentation for the Technology Special Interest Group of the Metro DC ASTD Chapter someone asked an interesting question: can you have too much interactivity in a web conference?

Although I tend to see the opposite problem -- too little interactivity -- I believe the answer to this question is yes. If the interaction does not support your learning objectives and you are interacting with participants merely for the sake of interacting, then it can frustrate your audience. Also, if you are using the interactive features of your web conferencing tool with your audience simply because you think the feature is neat and not to support your content, then the audience may feel like they are jumping through hoops pointlessly.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Putting on Your Marketing Hat

Last week I attended a webinar hosted by Ken Molay of Webinar Success on the “Secrets of Lead-Generation Webinars.” While the webinar had a marketing slant, several of his ideas were applicable to a variety of web conferencing events, including learning events. Let’s face it, we all need to put on a marketing hat. A couple of notable tips from Molay are:

"Get the audience to have a stake in the webinar – ask them to send questions before the event."

I like to send a pre-course survey before a web conference to get a sense of the learners’ experience level, needs and of course to see if they have specific questions they would like to address during the course.

"Reminders: send the day before and again 1-3 hours before the event. In the reminder email, remind people of the value proposition so they remember why they signed up for your event. "

The timing of email reminders is critical, and I agree with Molay’s suggestion. Also make sure the reminder is coming from an email address that the learner expects. Ideally, all communications about your event should come from the same email address.