Sunday, August 4, 2013

Attend a Live Webinar

Earlier in the course of this class, I signed up for an Edmodo account.  I had heard that it is a wonderful tool for teachers to use, and I know a lot of teachers in the World Language department use it with great success.  So I signed up for an account, and hadn't really done anything with it since.  I knew I wanted to use it next year, but wasn't even sure when to start.  Then, I got an e-mail from Edmodo inviting me to participate in a "Intro to Edmodo" webinar.  Knowing that I had this assignment this week, it seemed like the perfect opportunity!

The "Intro to Edmodo" webinar lasted about 30 minutes.  During that time, we were given an overview of what Edmodo is, a look at the features, and some tips for implementing Edmodo in our classrooms.  The presenter was knowledgeable about Edmodo, and also had experience as a classroom teacher.  I appreciated this, as I felt like I was getting information from someone that understood the classroom side of Edmodo and not just the technical features.  I would definitely consider attending future Edmodo webinars, because they seem to be a great way to get information on how to best use Edmodo.  I would like to learn about Edmodo in more depth before the school year starts, so I will be looking out for future webinars.

I have used webinars with my students before, and plan to continue to do so in the coming school year.  My 7th and 8th grade French 1 and French 2 students have to take a comprehensive county-wide final exam at the end of the school year.  This exam covers everything they have learned in the class, and if they do not pass the exam, they do not earn high school credit for the class.  This means they have to repeat the class the following year.  Needless to say, this causes a lot of stress for my students.  Two years ago, to help alleviate some of the stress, I set up a webinar for the night before the exam.  For the webinar, I used WizIQ, which I had learned about in a previous Wilkes class.  During the webinar, I answered students' questions, reviewed topics that would be on the exam, used the microphones to help students with pronunciation, etc.  My students absolutely loved the webinar.  At the end of last year, I had over 40 students participate.  They came in to school the next day and thanked me profusely for the webinar, and many said that they would not have passed the exam without it.

Webinars are wonderful tools, however they do require a time commitment.  Since they are held live, you have to be in a certain place at a certain time.  This could be challenging for both students and teachers.  I don't know if I would incorporate regular webinars into my class for this reason.  I think they are great for the situation I described with the final exam, but I don't know if they are really feasible or necessary for regular use.  That being said, I know that many webinar hosting sites offer the ability to record the session for future playback.  This might make regular webinars more possible.  Unfortunately this eliminates the live aspect, where students can interact with each other and the teacher.  However it is a good compromise for the time commitment.  There's definitely a lot to think about when considering webinars for classroom use!

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