The Importance of Planning
Many people jump right into leading a Wimba web conference, but it's important to take some time to plan your event ahead of time. Here's why:
- During the Wimba event, your focus may be on using the tool and you won't be able to give the structure or content of the event as much thought. Having your content and event structure planned ahead of time makes it easier for you during the event.
- It is easier for participants to "tune out" in a web conferencing event than it is in person. Planning interesting content and activities keeps them engaged.
- Your event will run smoother if you plan it in advance.
The following lists provide you with best practices for planning an event.
- Become familiar with the Wimba interface by attending a training event with the ATC, getting an individual consultation with the ATC, or scheduling a test event so you can try it out. Contact the ATC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Plan the content you will use and preload it into the event (see Loading Content).
- Plan an agenda for your event and let participants know the agenda ahead of time in an e-mail.
- If you have co-presenters, let them know how you are planning to have the event work. If your co-presenters have not used Wimba before, be prepared to explain to them how to use the interface when they are presenting.
- Keep your events short. Participants often find it difficult to keep their attention on an event for long periods of time. One hour is a good length. If your event must be longer, plan breaks every hour. If you have a lot of material to cover, consider breaking it up into multiple short events that meet over several days.
- Consider keeping the number of participants attending your meeting lower than the number of participants you would have in an in-person event. A group of participants that is 50-75% of the size of an in-person meeting will be easier for you to manage during the event.
Before conducting your first Wimba event, consider scheduling a "dry run" with stand-in participants so you can become familiar with the interface and get feedback on your presentation style. Feel free to contact the ATC to request a staff member who has been trained in the use of Wimba to attend your dry run. Contact the ATC at email@example.com.
Tips for Preparing PowerPoint Content
If you will be using PowerPoint to create content for your Wimba event, keep these tips in mind.
- Wimba shrinks the size of your PowerPoint slides, so your slides must be clear and must use large fonts and graphics so they will be readable during the event.
- Do not include animations in your slides. Wimba "flattens" content and converts slides to images so animations will not work when presenting in Wimba.
- Use a white or very light colored background. The slides will appear better on participants' screens and the drawing tools will show up better.
- Use a sans serif font, such as Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana. These fonts appear better on the screen.
- Make the font as large as possible. Use at least 20 point fonts.
- Use colored fonts and graphics on your slides. This makes your slides more interesting to participants. Be careful to not overuse color.
- If you have a slide with a lot of content on it, break it up into two slides with no more than 5-6 lines on each slide.
- Be careful using screen shots in PowerPoint slides. Screen shots are distorted when Wimba reduces the size of the slides.
- A rule of thumb is to plan for 25 slides per hour. This of course depends on how much interactivity you have planned, how much information is on each slide, and how many of the other Wimba tools you will be using. The key is to not fit too much information into a short period of time.
- If you are planning to have a break during your event, add a break slide to your presentation. For example, just put up a slide that says "On Break".
- Build tips into your content that will help the participants be successful in the event. Since Wimba may be new to many participants, providing them with tips will make them feel more comfortable. For example, include a PowerPoint slide with tips on how to use the tools, such as the one shown below.
Download the PowerPoint slide with toolbar tips and insert it into your event or into your own PowerPoint presentation. Download the slide (PPT)
Tips for Preparing to Teach a Class Event
- Plan to change your teaching strategy approximately every 15-20 minutes. This helps break up the event and makes it more engaging. For example, after speaking and presenting content for 15 minutes, you could conduct a question and answer period, allowing students to interact with you and with each other. Of, you may turn control of the event over to a student and ask him or her to circle the important points in the content using the eBoard tools.
- Plan to inform students of the objectives of the event at the beginning. Consider building a slide with the objectives into your presentation. Make sure they are objectives you can accomplish in the Wimba environment.
- Plan for interaction, especially between students. Prepare stimulating questions that get students to share their own experiences or perspectives as they relate to the content. Also, since you can't see students' faces to see if the understand the content, add interaction into your event so you can determine from the discussions if they are "getting it."
Tips for Preparing Students for the Event
- Give ample notice to students about the date and time of the event. For example, include it in your syllabus. Also schedule it in advance and send e-mail to the students to make sure it is on their calendar.
- Do not make the event required if the event is for an ADLN class, since many distance learning students take ADLN courses because they like not having any specific time requirements.
Last modified: Apr 29, 2009, 15:38 EDT