Updated 2nd May 2020
In the strange world we are all now living in I find myself sitting in my kitchen on Saturday afternoon waiting for a chocolate cake to cook and time on my hands to write this blog. Face to face bookings have dried up for now so like many others I am having to think about ways to diversify my offer. This specifically looks at how I can now create something that people will engage with online.
Like many of you, before this week, I had plans in my head to offer something online... eventually. Finding that moving forward with these ideas seemed impossible due to time and other commitments. I had envisioned that when I was ready to do something online, it would take at least 6 months to put in place. After all, planning and doing it perfectly is important... isn't it?
Now let us backtrack to just over a week ago when the UK was suddenly facing lockdown due to something called Coronavirus. I never thought a virus would push me online so quickly and the need to make an online offer became very apparent. Knowing that it is good to ask what people want rather than assuming, I posted a poll about online CPD and the outcome rather surprised and amused me.
Joint top came webinar's, which didn't surprise me as I do understand that this is something that many people want to try but are maybe not sure how to get started. The other winner was an online discussion forum which made me smile as I have been running #LibraryStaffLoveLearning for nearly two years now. I just wish that all those who voted for this option will now occasionally join in the monthly discussion. If you want to know more take a look here to see what we are currently up to.
So having already ticked the box of an online discussion group I just needed to work out how to do a webinar. Lucky for me the SLA (School Library Association) had seen my poll and contacted me to ask if I wanted to do something with them. This seemed the perfect chance to try this new mode of training in collaboration with someone else. We eventually decided that they would run a series of training webinars with the first one free for SLA members and they wanted me to launch them with something about online CPD. We worked out that I had a week to create the PowerPoint and learn how to present on this new medium... not the 6 months I had imagined... I had just one week!
I do love a challenge and working with the wonderful Bev Humphrey's, a school library consultant with many years of experience, I knew I was in good hands. I created the PowerPoint and we tested it on Tuesday, giving me the chance to change and make adaptions, we then came together again on Thursday to test for timings. Bev must have been sick of listening to me talk through my presentation so many times! If she was she never said...
During my conversations with Bev, I noticed that she had changed where she was sitting... she was now in front of a lovely bookcase. Assessed my background...an empty office shelf! This had to change, so I spent the next 10mins going round my house filling the empty shelf with lovely books. Rob my husband thought this was very funny and I am not sure anyone noticed but I certainly felt better about it. Thanks for the idea, Bev :)
On Friday 27th March I did my first ever webinar training... was it perfect? Definitely not... the start was not perfect as I was probably one of the last people to login... We had arranged to join 10 mins before to get prepared and I am sure Bev must have been worried that I had changed my mind! I had not realised that she was going to send me a new link and I was sat waiting with the one we had been using to test. Luckily I realised something was wrong and sent her a text asking if she was ready, her reply 'born ready' which made me smile but I still wasn't logged in...luckily she then mentioned that she could not see me and for me to check my emails... With just 2 mins to go, I arrived... ready to present. Phew!
It was rather a strange experience as I could not see anyone or their comments. I could have been talking to myself for 45mins and I would not of known. I had sticker up on my screen reminding me to look at the camera and to smile... I now know that many people could see and hear me and thankfully were happy with what I said.
What would I do differently next time? I think I would find out if there was any way I could see who was logged on and if I could see their questions as it might be nice to interact a little bit as I went along. However, I can see that this might be a little distracting so maybe the way we did it was best! I would also make sure that along with making sure that everyone knew how to comment in the chatbox that they also knew how to switch their camera's off. It was only when I watched the recording I realised that some people were having trouble. It was not a problem but guidance on how to do this is obviously needed.
My three top tips!
Practice, Practice and practice again
Check your surroundings... What is behind you!
Make sure you know how to connect to the live webinar (It is not going to happen without you!)
If you are a member of the SLA you can email them and request a link to the recording. The other available webinars are also listed here so you can check out what else is coming up. https://www.sla.org.uk/search/webinar
All in all, it was a great experience and I look forward to running my next one on FOSIL (Framework Of Skills for Inquiry Learning) on the 7th May at 2 pm. https://www.sla.org.uk/events
I have also decided to start my own series of webinars too... A monthly one about FOSIL which started on the 14th May and also a selection of library skills webinars which starting with digital literacy and the school library on the 20th May. Check out how to access the recording and what else is coming up here... https://www.elizabethahutchinson.com/webinars-and-online-training
I hope that I have made you realise that we all have fears of something new. Sometimes it is just about going for it and taking the risk. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won't but unless you try you will never know...so if it is taking part in your first webinar or setting up a social media account or joining a discussion forum (#LibraryStaffLoveLearning hint hint) take a leap and do something positive in this time of uncertainty!
I thought I had better finish with the cake and crochet pictures just to prove that I have been doing some of that too... sorry the boys could not wait to eat the cake!