The “Why” and “How” Behind Continuing Professional Education Webinars
Compared to years past, more continuing professional education providers are using webinars to engage their learners. As professionals increasingly demand continuing education (CE) activities that they can complete on their own time or without having to travel long distances, it’s little wonder that webinars are growing in popularity.
Let’s consider some of the ways webinars help you provide an empowering CE experience that increases participation and engagement among learners. We’ll also look at what it takes to get started with webinars, including step-by-step planning and technology considerations.
Why CE providers are turning to webinars
A webinar can expand your ability to deliver valuable CE activities. If you already offer enduring content or host live meetings, adding webinars to your CE toolkit allows you to provide many of the same benefits of those existing activities, all wrapped up in a single, flexible format.
Here are some reasons to start producing CE webinars:
- Quickly transform live webinars into on-demand content: Record all of your live webinars, edit them as needed, and publish them as enduring or on-demand content that CE learners can access at a convenient time. K&L Gates is doing this right now with continuing legal education (CLE) webinars that it produces for attorneys at its firms.
- Build activities around a series: Host a series of webinars that revolve around a common subject matter. At the conclusion of each webinar, edit the presentation to function as enduring content and publish the entire series as multiple activities or a single activity.
- Easier for learners, easier for presenters: With webinars, learners don’t have to travel off-site or reschedule a large volume of appointments around a CE event. They can attend the live presentation from the comfort of their home or office. So, too, can your presenters. When the time needed to deliver an activity fits the webinar format (an hour or so in length), you can increase participation by making those events easier to attend.
- Lower overhead compared to live events: Many CE activities are best delivered in a live event format. However, if you routinely host short meetings or live series that require only an hour or so of each attendee’s time, you might be able to cover the same subject matter in a webinar and lower your costs for facilities, lecturers, and equipment.
- Multiple presentation possibilities: Like live meetings, webinars enable different kinds of presentation formats. From single-speaker lectures and interviews to moderated panel discussions, there’s plenty of flexibility. Some webinar technologies even include interactive features like polls, surveys, and Q&As so learners can participate in the discussion as it unfolds.
How to get started with CE webinars
It’s easier than ever to start producing webinars for CE learners. Aside from creating the content for a webinar activity, much of the process revolves around understanding the technologies you will use to deliver the webinar, register attendees, award credit, and publish enduring content.
Here’s how to plan and deliver a CE webinar:
- Select a Web conferencing application: WebEx (Cisco) and GoToWebinar (Citrix) are the most well known tools for webinars and conferencing, and either should meet your needs for meetings with a large number of attendees. If you’re considering an alternative solution, pay close attention to the number of participants it accommodates, audio handling, recording capability, and cost when compared to the two major players.
- Assemble your team and perform a dry run: Typically, a webinar will include an organizer who plans the webinar, locates the speaker(s), and even introduces the presenter during the webinar itself. Most webinars include at least these two individuals and might incorporate additional speakers depending on the format. After assembling your team, perform a dry run of the webinar. Determine who will speak and when. A dry run will also help you work out any problems with slides or speaking notes before go-time.
- Make sure all presenters are prepared: If it’s a presenter’s first time leading a webinar, check to see that he or she has all the proper equipment. A headset with a dedicated microphone will ensure optimal audio quality for all attendees.
- Set up a system for awarding credit: In the spirit of making webinar participation as seamless as possible, let your learners request credit online. The Rievent Platform allows you to work with any webinar vendor and automate the learner credit request process. Following a webinar, attendees enter a unique code that verifies their attendance and awards credit. Via the Learning Portal, learners can also track and manage all CE participation for live webinars, recorded webinars, or other activities.
- Record the webinar for future editing and publishing: If you intend to edit the webinar and publish it as an on-demand CE activity, don’t forget to record it! After preparing the edited webinar for publishing, upload it to your LMS so that learners can stream or download the content.
Every provider will require a slightly different approach, but following these basic steps should enable you to create, host, and repurpose webinars for CE learners. And with so many great reasons to incorporate webinars into your activity catalog, there’s never been a better time to get started.