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Teaching the virtual event educators: Development Through Virtual Events


Sam Thompson works at Kaltura as a senior director. He helps businesses and schools make it easier for their online students and workers to work with them.

As the new school year starts, many families are looking forward to seeing how or if the lack of teachers will affect how well their children learn. In a recent survey by the EdWeek Research Center, 72% of school district leaders and principals said that there weren’t enough teachers who wanted to work at their school or district.

To deal with these problems, districts might try out different benefit packages. To get more out of teachers, schools can give them four-day work weeks or use educational technology.

With so many changes in how teachers teach, administrators should focus on professional development to help their teachers be more successful. The U.S. Department of Education says that one of Secretary Miguel Cardona’s three goals for “Supporting and Raising the Teaching Profession” is to help teachers improve their skills.

And this professional development should be done on a large scale, which is why virtual events for professional development are becoming more popular. As the senior director of product marketing, industry solutions, and innovation at a company that offers virtual event solutions, I work with schools and companies that host virtual events for professional development and learning. Here are some tips for hosting professional development virtual events that go well.

Promote a little bit of competition.

I’ve found that it’s harder to get people’s attention at virtual events than in-person ones. When people learn in person, they have more direct reasons to pay attention. After all, they are in a room with their teachers and other students. When they’re learning online, distractions are everywhere, so we should be more purposeful in grabbing our learners’ attention.

One successful strategy is using leaderboards. Leaderboards in learning events appeal to our natural desire to win and can be a surprising way to keep people interested in learning activities. When making leaderboards, it’s important to make it clear how points are earned and to make sure that every learner can get the same number of points no matter what learning path they’re on. You could also skip the leaderboards and instead use things like badges and levels to motivate people.

Record some training sessions in advance.

Many of us are familiar with webinars and webcasts, but “simulative” video seems to be growing in popularity. This is a video that is recorded ahead of time and then played at a certain time. There are several reasons why.

Live video is more dangerous than simulated video. Murphy’s Law is always true, and live broadcasts are full of things that can go wrong. By showing videos that have already been made, you can avoid problems like last-minute cancellations and problems with the presenter’s network or device.

If you’re going to offer “simulative” content, make sure there’s a reason to join and give people a chance to talk to each other and network. And yes, after you’ve shown it live, make sure to share the video as a video-on-demand (VOD) asset so people can watch it again and learn at their own pace.

It’s not easy to make videos that have already been made interesting, but it can be done. When communicating in any way, it’s important to know who you’re talking to. With professional development, it’s a little easier to know who you’re talking to. Don’t be afraid to use humor and some of the staff to talk about a topic. Learn the basics of making videos: Make sure the lighting is good and the people in the picture are in the right place. Also, check the sound settings. Keep your video’s script or outline short and to the point. Live conversations can easily go off on tangents, but videos that have already been made should stay on topic.

Give people access to recordings.

Learners forget things unless they are reminded of them. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review (behind a paywall), German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found that people forget about 75% of what they learn if they don’t use it within six days. Even though his discovery of “The Forgetting Curve” has been much debated, everyone knows that learning needs to be reinforced. Record sessions from your professional development virtual event and send them to learners as follow-ups to help them remember what they learned.

Recording the sessions can also help you keep learning long after the virtual event is over. Self-paced learning and video-on-demand (VOD) are much more scalable than even live events. Event organizers should take recordings and use them in self-paced learning courses or turn their virtual event into a space that can be visited again and again (or viewed for the first time).

One of the things that people don’t like about VOD for learning is that it’s passive, even though it’s flexible. It doesn’t get students interested, let them connect with each other, or test them. But you can add VOD to virtual events and then add ways to networks, such as comments and chats.

How Well Do You Know

Assessment is still important for learning and professional growth, no matter where you are. Virtual events are a great way to track how many people are there and how involved they are in the event. But just being there doesn’t show that you understand. Continuing professional education (CPE) credits or certification renewal usually require some kind of assessment after learning activities. Learners are often qualified based on how many hours they spend learning and how well they do on the test.

Instead of having an assessment activity after your professional development event, you might want to think about making the assessment part of the virtual event. Set up quizzes in virtual classroom sessions to see how well students are understanding in real-time. Then, you can use the quizzes to check how well people understand or to connect them to your data warehouse.


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