Monday, 21 September 2015

Webinar wonderings

In recent months I have viewed 4 webinars, which is a fairly new experience for me. I attended a webinar back in 2011, and presented one in 2014, but other than that I’ve never given them much thought. When I changed jobs earlier this year I became a solo librarian, meaning it is not easy for me to attend CPD events in person. I needed to think of alternative activities I could engage with, and this is where webinars have proved useful.

Good and bad.
Image by Carl Carpenter. Used under a CC licence.

Generally, webinars tend to be held on weekdays during office hours. However, recordings are made and the videos can be watched back at a time that suits. At work I provide first line support on the library desk, so I have to be available for students during library open hours. The flexibility of a webinar recording means I can watch snippets during quiet periods, or watch it from home in the evenings. Very convenient. Why have I never noticed this perk before? (Probably because I've never needed to.)

I’ve taken advantage of this to watch webinars on various topics. They may not be directly linked to my current role, but I’m trying to expand my knowledge of other issues. This was a suggestion in the feedback I received after revalidating my MCLIP.
  • Social media for libraries – ARLG North East (May)
  • Creative commons  - UKSG (June)
  • Altmetrics – UKSG (July)
  • Obligatory revalidation – CILIP (August)
I'm finding that webinars are a good way of learning about topics outside of my sector. I wouldn't necessarily go to the trouble of attending an event unless it was relevant to my role; I may not be granted leave from work for it either. If I find the subject matter is completely irrelevant, or boring, or goes over my head, I can just turn off the webinar. So much easier than leaving an event if it turns out to be not what I thought. In this way webinars trump physical events by encouraging me to expand my knowledge of different subject areas. I've noticed there are also downsides to watching recordings of webinars, rather than the live event. Viewers are unable to ask questions during the presentations, so it is more of a passive learning experience than an interactive one. Questions can be submitted in advance of the webinar, but any spontaneous questions that arise will remain unanswered unless you contact the presenters. Also, webinar attendees are not able to network with other attendees, which is something I miss. In most cases you don't even know who the other attendees are, meaning there is nobody to share a post-webinar reflection.
There are definitely good and bad sides to webinars. At the moment, I feel the good outweighs the bad. I’ve enjoyed dipping my toes in the webinar world and hope to continue doing so. I wonder what other people think of webinars?

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