Try a webinar!

Earlier this year I had the chance to take part in an online professional development opportunity known as the Virtual Round Table Web Conference. Participants from all over the globe gave online presentations in a webinar format on subjects related to technology and language teaching. If you missed the conference, all of the 45 presentations were recorded and are available to view online for free. Be sure to scroll down for the complete program.

This conference included an account of TESOL’s CALL Interest Section’s Electronic Village Online (EVO) as described in an earlier posting here on the TESOL Blog by Sandra Rogers. Webinars are just one of the professional development opportunities mentioned by Korey Marquez in her April 2, 2012 post also here on the TESOL Blog.

But I’m increasingly fond of the webinar format. In case you haven’t participated in one, it works like this.  You register or sign up on the web site of the provider and then log in at the supplied address on the day and time of the session. It’s a good idea to check out your computer in advance to make sure that you can see and hear the presentation.  Also, since webinars are usually international events, you will probably need to convert time zones to be sure that you connect at the right time. If you’ll be listening privately near others you will want headphones. Alternatively, you can gather around a computer with a group of colleagues and discuss the content of the webinar as you are listening.

TESOL Professional attending a webinar in pajamas

Did I mention that you can participate in a webinar while sitting at home in your pajamas?

Some webinars can be viewed in your web browser. For others, a simple download of software to your computer makes the process more interactive and enjoyable. Once the webinar begins, you’ll be able to hear the presenter, see the presentation slides, and usually participate in a real-time text chat with other participants. In many—but not all—webinars, you can see video of the presenter, as well. Often the webinars are recorded and you can go back and watch them again, or see sessions that you missed earlier.  Did I mention that you can do all this while sitting at home in your pajamas?

TESOL hosts free webinars for members throught the year. Increasingly, the major ELT publishers are also hosting professional development events online. Here are some listings of a few upcoming webinars that you might want to take part in.  Check the detailed listings in the links for times. You can visit these same links at any time to see what the latest offerings are.

TESOL Virtual Seminars (free for TESOL Members, $45 for non-members. Be sure to pre-register a few days in advance)
18 July 2012   7 Ways to Get Your Students Talking in the EFL Classroom, with Noël Houck and Donna Tatsuki.
Note: the technology platform for TESOL Virtual Seminars is made possible by National Geographic Learning, part of Cengage Learning through their ELT Advantage Program. Thanks, guys!

Cambridge English Teacher (Mostly free. Selected resources require paid membership.)
18 July 2012 Communicative learner-centred grammar, with Peter Lucantoni

Oxford University Press (Free. Registration required.)
25 July 2012 Approaches to Teaching Academic Grammar, with Julie Moore
20 September 2012 CLIL for Younger Learners, with Sarah Phillips

Macmillan English Interactive Webinars (Free. Registration required.)
5 September  2012 Your CLIL – Identifying and activating general academic language, with Keith Kelly & John Clegg
3 October 2012 Academic Writing: Teaching Writers How and Why to Avoid Plagiarism, with Dorothy Zemach
The Macmillan site also has recordings of previous webcasts that may be viewed on demand.

Pearson (Free. Registration required.)
Pearson offers a number of webinars during each academic year and will have more coming up in the future.  In the meantime there are a number of recorded webinars that you can view. For access, register on their site above.


Screenshot of a webinar

When participating in a webinar you can usually view the presentation slides, watch video of the presenter, and type and read in a real-time chat window.

And if you think you might like to be a presenter of a webinar, check out the detailed advice from the recording of my presentation at the Virtual Round Table on Improving Your Virtual Presentation Skills. I also highly recommend Nicky Hockly’s e-book called Webinars: A Cookbook for Educators.

Do you know of other good webinar resources?  Please add your ideas using the comments section!

About Joe McVeigh

Joe McVeigh
Joe McVeigh works independently in the field of English language teaching as a consultant, author, and teacher trainer. For over 25 years he has taught at universities in the United States, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California, and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. He has lived and worked in countries including China, India, Chile, the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Saudi Arabia. He has taught students from more than 50 countries. He is co-author with Ann Wintergerst of Tips for Teaching Culture: Practical Approaches to Intercultural Communication (Pearson Longman) and a co-author with Jennifer Bixby of two books in the Q: Skills for Success series (Oxford University Press). In addition to writing and consulting, Joe speaks at conferences and workshops, and maintains a blog and website on issues of interest to teachers of ESL. You can also find him on Twitter: @JoeMcVeigh. Joe is a past chair of TESOL's Intensive English Programs Interest Section and served on the TESOL Board of Directors from 1995-1998. He lives with his wife and son in Middlebury, Vermont, USA.
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2 Responses to Try a webinar!

  1. Sandra Rogers says:

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on webinars. I like them, too! Here is a concept map on the process of attending a webinar as a participant. I created this for one of my graduate course projects. It’s hosted on my blog:


  2. Nicky Hockly says:

    Thanks for this nice clear overview of webinars, Joe. Also, for that useful list of TESOL related webinars to attend.

    Readers interested in running their own webinars should take a look at your own VRT conference presentation for how to do it well. Readers might also be interested in these two short (2 min) videos with webinar tips:

    Webinar tech tips:

    Involving participants in your webinar tips:

    Hope this is useful,

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