Ten Observations & Principles For The Design of Innovative Webcasts

Some assumptions:
• A virtual classroom becomes a webcasting event when the number of participants increases over 50 simultaneous attendees.
• At this stage in their development, most webcasting tools (EG: WebEx, Connect, Go-To Meeting, etc. all of pretty much the same tools to support interactivity during the session
• Sometimes a webcast is designed to be a one way flow of information only (like pushing out a corporate strategy or urgent compliance requirement). In cases such as this minimal interaction is generally the best option, as the goal is less about learning and more about reaching large numbers with critical information quickly.
• The tools to support a robust vision of crowd sourced problem solving that has on board data analysis and presentation tools currently does not exist on the market
• In the current paradigm, the primary purpose of most webcasts is marketing not learning. The goal is to gather attendees and their demographics, so they can be used as “leads” for marketing purposes

The Ten Principles & Observations

1Adult learners like to be tested so they learn more about what they know and need to learn. Webcasting provides an ideal venue for assessing the knowledge of participants. Using case studies and challenge events that ask participants to identify ways to solve problems by selecting appropriate solution or predicting what the players in the case story did to handle the situation are extremely compelling.

2The aggregate knowledge and experience of the people who attend a webcast is frequently greater than that of the expert(s) presenting.

3When survey results from polling are widely variant (EG: A=5%; B=22%; C=27%; D=21%; E=25%; when C is the correct answer the really valuable learning point isn’t why “C” is correct but why 73% of the those answering chose the response “not C”. Making thinking around why participant attendees chose the incorrect answer is a teachable moment and should not be ignored or glossed over.

4Because many people’s behavior while attending a webcast is to multi-task, instructional techniques that foster attention and create urgency and personal commitment to the event are an important consideration when producing a webcast design.

5As the number of attendees in a webcast rises, the increased use of on board interactive tools like chat and Q&A with presenters becomes less and less feasible and effective. This is so because of the flood of audience entries and the inability of the presenter/facilitator to respond to a significant number of individual questions or comments. Therefore, as the numbers go up, the need for a robust interaction strategy becomes more and more critical.

6Gamification, peer to peer interaction, and fun activities during a learning webcast increase attendee engagement, motivation and persistence.

7Adults like to know where they stand in comparison to a large group of people who are just like them. The power of this principle increases in proportion to which participants are able to “see themselves” reflected in the segments being presented in terms of similar roles, demographics and experience.

8In large scale webcasts (N= 100+ attendees), the use of most native tools (polling, chat, etc.) should focus on assessing baseline knowledge to help guide content delivery and assessment to determine how participant thinking has changed or what learning has been attained as a result of the session.

9Simulated interaction during a large, virtual event has been shown to be as engaging as “authentic,” random interaction, so long as the interactions appear to the audience to be spontaneous and random

10In any virtual event there are four levels of interaction that can be designed into the teaching and learning flow.
These include:

(a) interaction enacted via “acceptance” gestures like “yes – no”, “applause” and “hand raising”;
(b) interaction with individual audience members who ask or answer questions, present ideas/projects and act as a surrogate for the larger audience;
(c) game-based interaction that competes different segments of the audience against one another as they are asked to demonstrate their knowledge and skill in aggregates that compare one team’s knowledge & skill versus another; and
(d) within site interaction wherein small groups attend the webcast together in a single location (or via virtual “break out” rooms) and are given time to discuss, collaborate and problem solve, and then “come back on line to share their solutions.

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