What is a webinar?

computer with world

A number of different organisations talk about providing webinars as an alternative to providing face-to-face sessions with students, but what are they and how could they be used to aid learning and teaching?

Webinar is short for ‘web-based seminar’ and is where a lecture, seminar, presentation or workshop is transmitted live over the web. This means that all participants and the tutor are scheduled to meet at the same time as they would with a face-to-face session but can do so from locations all over the world via the internet. The name is sometimes used to refer to the delivery of a one-way broadcast but more commonly the sessions involve collaborative activities and the opportunity for students to participate by asking or answering questions.

There are a number of ways that webinars can be used with your students:

  • Lecture and seminar delivery
  • Group work
  • Support sessions (including personal tutoring)
  • Peer support (where students can arrange to get together to collaborate or discuss ideas)

How interactive a webinar becomes depends on the design of the session as well as the tool used to facilitate the session. Here at UoD there are two tools which are commonly used to run these sessions both of these tools are available through Course Resources/Blackboard.

Wimba Classroom has been at the University for a number of years but Wimba who provide the tool were bought out by Blackboard and they are reducing their support for this tool and replacing it with Blackboard Collaborate. Available for the first time this year a number of tutors have been using Collaborate to replace their use of Wimba Classroom.

Like Wimba, Blackboard Collaborate allows tutors to:

  • Communicate via text, audio and video
  • Share presentation slides
  • Show web demonstrations
  • Collaborate together on a virtual whiteboard
  • Allocate students to breakout rooms for group work
  • Record sessions and make these available to students

If you are interested in using this type of technology with your students please contact one of the Learning Technology Team who can help you look at how you could use it.

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