TODAY -

Importance of webinars for academicians during COVID-19 pandemic

Sagolshem Laxmi *



Introduction:

India has seen various phases of total lockdowns aftermath the break out of Covid-19 or the so-called Corona Virus pandemic. Many human lives have been lost. Almost all the nations have been deeply affected.

The law enforcing agencies and the front liners in the health sector has been playing a major role to contain the deadly virus. Yet, the importance of academic growth for the faculties cannot be ignored.

In the context of UGC, the scheduled timetable for the seminars, workshops, refresher courses and other programs meant and focused for the overall growth of the academicians have come to a standstill. However, faculty-developing process cannot simply cease. Here comes the importance of webinar.

A webinar is an online seminar that turns a presentation into a real-time conversation from anywhere in the world. Webinars allow large groups of participants to engage in online discussions or training events and share audio, documents or slides – even when they are not in the same place as the meeting host or in the same room where the event or presentation is taking place.

A webinar can be a seminar, workshop, orientation program, refresher course and any kind of short-term courses.

Webinar design at a glance:

Faculty members are encouraged to participate in the programs organised via webinars according to their subjects and choices. First, the faculty members must be keen to join the webinar since these types of courses/programs are conducted purely through ICT tools and internet. One must be little bit tech-savvy.

Esteemed Universities and Colleges roll out webinars and faculties from across the country are invited to join the same. There are different types of webinars. Yet we find two very common types of webinars i.e.
(a) with lecture
(b) without lecture.

The first category is done by delivering series of lectures on the selected topics by the host. The second one is by conducting assessments every day after providing study materials. While we delve little further about the first kind of the webinar, the subject matter expert first highlights the topics and sub-topics and goes on delivering concise lecture.

There is certainly question hour wherein the participants could clarify their doubts on the subjects. Assignments are given which are discussed the following day and generalized feedbacks are provided. Talking about the next type of webinar, concise study materials for the particular topics are provided. The materials are given every day with different topics.

Participants must devote time to digest the whole materials. Assessments are conducted and generally, it is done in MCQs (multiple-choice questions). Good scoring is essential for the award of certificates. Both study materials and assignments are facilitated through a web-link and it is necessarily time bound.

Within a time frame these web-based resources have to be availed or downloaded otherwise these will expire which is unlike the conventional mode. Missing lectures or assessment will impact in the performance and grading of the participants.

Apart from these types of webinar, Paper/Power Point presentations are also conducted as webinar in which participants would present papers according to the described topics and sub-themes. Though there may be other types of webinars however, we found the above two types of webinar to be most popular these days.

The duration of webinar is predetermined and generally, it ranges from 1 day to a week’s duration or little more.

Difference between a conventional course and webinar:

The major difference between a conventional seminar and the webinar is that one is conducted offline and another one is purely done through online mode. For a person who believes in the face to face training program will find it less attractive since webinar is a new concept.

On the other hand, the computer literate faculty members will find the webinar more attractive since it involves a lot of technical exposure. A campus and few spacious conference rooms or auditorium is mandatorily required to conduct a conventional seminar/program.

It involves compulsory physical attendance. Based on the program, working lunch and tea breaks are given facilitating the faculty members to get to know each other during the recesses. A very limited interaction is experienced amongst the faculty members during a webinar session whereas the resource person is always available to address the participants.

It becomes difficult to check on the keenness and the attentiveness of the participants in a webinar session and on the other hand, during a conventional session maximum participants are actively involved in the session.

A webinar demands a spontaneous and voluntary self-exposure and involvement during the whole session. The more one is exposed to ITC tools and internet the more one gains.

Advantages of Webinar:

(i) It saves time in learning new things while being confined in houses.
(ii) One tremendously gains technical knowledge by exposing at ICT Tools.
(iii) It is less expensive.
(iv) It is easily accessible since no travel is required.
(v) A large number of participants can be accommodated.
(vi) Most convenient to attend the national and international webinars from home.
(vi) Participants could attend more than one webinar in a day provided the time schedule does not collide.
(vii) One does not sit idle at home and has the opportunity to refresh the mind by attending various eligible and beneficial courses.

Disadvantages of Webinar:

(i) There is lack of face-to-face interaction (physically) with the resource person and the participants.
(ii) Web links are time bound and upon its expiry, participants cannot access the online assessments.
(iii) Faculties who do not possess computers/smart phones and who lacks technical knowledge find it difficult to join the webinar.
(iv) Internet connectivity is a must.
(v) Unable to check the attentiveness since there are certain technical loopholes exploited by the participants.

Conclusion:

A webinar is an engaging online event facilitated through internet wherein the participants mostly faculty members find it useful to enrich their knowledge by participating in a number of webinars. In this crucial hour of Covid-19 pandemic, the exposure to online events available through webinar is indeed a blessing to the teaching faculty across the nation.

For those who are yet to participate in any of such courses must definitely join it as learning process never stops. After all, it is the teachers’ community who are regarded as human engineers and they are accountable to shape and give direction to student community-the pillars of tomorrow.

Moreover, exposing to internet technology and rational usage of social media as a tool to interact globally for academic purpose will only boost career and knowledge.

It is highly recommended to attend such programs more often and not only this but to equip oneself in order go to the next level and to become an organizer from the role of a mere participant. Thus, a larger goal shall be achieved at an institutional level.


* Sagolshem Laxmi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Asst. Professor, Deptt. of Computer Science, Don Bosco College, Maram, Senapati
This article was webcasted on June 13 2020.



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