Today while I was chatting on Facebook (I do this a lot, don’t I? Well, isn’t that the whole idea of PLN?) with Qori, a member of Indonesian English Teachers’ Club (IETC), I remembered that I had this idea of putting a list of free webinars for English teachers on this blog. I have shared these links on the group’s Facebook and joined some of them. But before you ask, here’s a little bit on what a webinar is.
What is a webinar?
I believe by now all of you are already familiar with the term ‘webinar’. However, if you haven’t, as you might have guessed it, a webinar is basically a seminar that is held online, on a website.
Webinar = web + seminar.
Thanks to the advancement of technology, thus educational technology, people now can hold seminar, workshop, presentation, lecture online, using website or other forms of online technology as the platform. By making all of these activities available online, knowledge and skills can now be easily transferred or distributed across countries with minimum cost (at least from the point of view of the receiver).
As many economists consider this as a ‘weird’ economic behavior, nowadays more and more high-profile institutions provide and host online classes, including webinars. And why is this weird? Because they provide them for free. If you’re into free online courses, you should go check these websites (though courses are not limited to English teaching): Coursera, Khan Academy.
Why should I attend a webinar (at least once or twice)?
- The first thing I would consider is because it’s totally free. However though, you still need to provide yourself a decent computer and internet connection.
- It can help with your professional development. I guess one of the most important reasons to be in a webinar is that you can get all the latest trend, knowledge, and skills that you need to teach in your class. That’s surely something you and your institution can benefit from. Also, you can meet other teachers from all around the world (or other cities in your country) and start connecting (remember PLN?).
- Even though they are free, the speakers of these webinars are mostly experts in their field. So why waste this chance?
- Attending a webinar and basically following the latest trend in education and educational technology in specific will give you a sense on what’s going on in the world out there.
What should I prepare for a webinar?
- First and foremost: a computer (or laptop). Some webinars can be accessed through tablet or mobile device, but computer is always the best choice. Some platforms (e.g. Adobe Connect) have limited support on mobile device functionalities, although some might not (e.g. Blackboard).
- The second most important thing: a stable internet access. I have followed some webinars and noticed that Adobe Connect has the heaviest load of all other platforms (again, this is based on Indonesian standard modem-based internet connection). I believe this is due to its many features that run at the same time: video, voice, online chat, slides. Before you attend a webinar, you are usually informed on what platform the host will use (but you can read about it in this blogpost), so you can at least prepare yourself with better internet connection.
- The third most important thing: your time. Even though it is conducted online and you can sometimes attend a webinar while doing other stuff offline, I am sure you don’t want to miss valuable information delivered in the webinar. And because of its online nature, a webinar can only be held for around a maximum of 2 hours, so things can really go fast while you’re at it.
Other tips on attending a webinar
- Because there are lots of webinars out there, sometimes we are confused on which to attend. One thing for sure, you do not have to attend them all. What I usually do is register for webinars on topics that I need and specialize. For example: I’m teaching mostly adults and ESP, that is why attending a webinar on teaching young learners is a second priority for me.
- Be active in finding information on where to find webinars, Google them, join clubs for English teachers that give information about them, and connect with other teachers who are following the trend and can give you the information.
- Always bookmark sites that provide webinars so you will not lose them in the future. If you’re using Diigo, that’s even better, because other teachers will be able to look at your list too.
- Note down the schedule of webinars you have registered so you will not miss them. Some automatically send iCal reminder via email. If you miss a webinar, you usually can watch the recording later. However, you will not be able to ask questions directly to the speakers or interact with other participants. Also, since the hosts of these webinars are not in Indonesia, you will need a time converter to convert the time into WIB, WITA, or WIT.
And… Here’s the list of free webinars for English teachers
- American TESOL Webinars. You do not have to register to the website if you want to join a webinar. Webinars are presented every Friday at 4 PM EST or New York time with Shelly Terrell. Simply visit the site at the time given and login. Platform: Adobe Connect.
- English Language Teaching Webinars by Oxford University Press. You need to register for a webinar before attending it although you do not need to register to the website. Registration is closed one day before the webinar. Certificates of attendance and presentation slides are available after the webinar. Platform: Blackboard.
- Teacher Training Webinars by Macmillan English. You need to register for a webinar before attending it. Seats are limited (up to 2,000?) but they are free. Recordings and presentations of previous webinars are available with no registration. Platform: Blackboard.
- International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi). iTDi occasionally conducts free webinars for members of the website. You have to register to the website to register for it. The website also provides an online community for English teachers from all over the world. So while you’re not attending webinars, you can still connect with other teachers, experts, and mentors. Platform: Adobe Connect.
- IATEFL Webinars. Webinars are free but the recordings are only available for paid members. Make sure you do not miss the date and time to make the most of the webinars provided. Presentation slides are available after the webinar but only for a short while before they are moved to members’ area. Registration is not needed. Platform: Adobe Connect.
- Shaping The Way We Teach English Webinars by American English. Here you can find recordings of previous webinars, including the presentations and resources that came with them. No information on upcoming webinars so far. Platform: Adobe Connect.
- Webinars for English Teachers by US Embassy in Lima, Peru. You have to visit their Facebook Page or subscribe to their newsletter to get information about upcoming webinars. Meanwhile you can watch the recorded webinars on their YouTube channel. No registration is needed. By far this webinar is the most bandwidth-friendly, most probably because it only provides audio and chat.
- TeachingEnglish Webinars by British Council. Recorded webinars are available on the website and no registration is needed. However, too bad there are no new updates on the webinar or other activities on the page. Platform: Adobe Connect.
- Cambridge English Teacher. You have to register to the website if you want to register for a webinar. Most of the webinars are provided for paid members. There are only few webinars available for free for non-members.
Last but not least, I hope this blogpost is useful for you and your professional development. Feel free to drop your comment(s).
Tulisan ini juga bisa dibaca di Ms Neno’s Blog.