Webinars in Higher Education. How to Cater for Students’ Needs and Enjoy Great Benefits?
A typical university campus. Young people everywhere, staring at their smartphones. Scrolling, tapping, swiping. Are they having fun? Maybe some of them are. But a great number of them are studying.
Today’s students know digital solutions inside out. They expect technology to be present in every area of their lives. They spend plenty of time online and use digital apps every day, not only for fun but also to learn new skills. That’s pretty natural. So why would they follow different rules and develop different habits in that field?
Are you aware of that? Do you know your audience well enough to tell what they expect from a modern university? Are you capable of addressing their needs? If not, let’s take a look at who today’s students are and how, according to research, they behave when it comes to education.
Do you know your audience?
Generation Z. Digital natives. You must have heard these terms before. Generation Z are people born somewhere between 1990 and 2000. Why ‘Z’? That’s because they come right after the so-called Generation Y, also known as Millennials.
And why are they called digital natives? They are digitally savvy people, strongly relying on technology. Some say they were born with smartphones or tablets in their hands. These young people practically don’t know the world before the era of the Internet and social media. The era when the computer or the phone were plugged in, and you were unable to move around.
Due to their age, these people are your primary target audience. They are just about to start their higher education, started it, or might be interested in the PhD postgraduate studies. So, if you ignore their needs, you are missing a big piece of the pie.
According to the “Beyond Millennials: The Next Generation of Learners” report published in August 2018 by Pearson, Gen Z sees much value in education. 67% of the survey participants believe college is an important stepping stone towards success in their future careers. Only 25% boldly claim they can have a rewarding career without a college diploma.
At the same time, the Gen Z tends to choose video and apps as their preferred ways of learning. 59% of them mentioned YouTube videos and 47% mentioned learning apps and interactive games as the tools they regularly use to gain knowledge and practice new skills.
What’s interesting about their attitude is that Gen Z has been so immersed in technology in every aspect of their lives. They no longer see digital solutions as something that will disrupt the way people acquire knowledge. On the contrary, they believe it a standard, integral part of life.
Knowing all this, do you think ignoring the needs of this significant part of your audience would be a good idea? It wouldn’t – I’m sure you agree. At ClickMeeting, we can help you get your message across to your audience with webinars. Do you want to know how to use them to address your audience’s expectations? Would you like to make them a significant part of your toolset and gain substantial benefits?
From this article, you will find out how to become a successful webinar host to promote your university’s offer and attract more students. Ready to start learning? Let’s dive in then!
What purposes can webinars serve?
A good webinar platform will support you whenever you need to meet your audience in person. However, due to some reasons, for instance, time and cost limitations or geographical distance, you are unable to do that.
Yes, I said ‘meet’, and that’s the proper word here. Webinars are not videos you upload to your YouTube channel and make available for everyone willing to watch. Webinars are online events that take place in real time. They provide many features letting presenters interact with attendees as if they were in a traditional meeting room.
Chatting, asking and answering questions, presenting pictures and charts, sharing screen to show how something works, drawing and sketching – all these and more are possible with webinars.
That is why they can serve a variety of purposes and help universities pursue their goals. What purposes can they fulfil? Let’s start with the most obvious one.
Sharing knowledge is most probably the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking about webinars in education. And that’s a correct connotation. That’s the main purpose you can use a webinar platform for. Having access to a good webinar platform, you can:
- Offer your entire programs online with the use of various digital tools, including webinars. From the next paragraph, you will find out what groups of students will benefit from such an opportunity.
- Provide selected elements of your programs, e.g. guest lectures by experts, as webinars. It’s a great way to enhance your offer and introduce diverse teaching methods.
- Offer students individual tutoring. Teachers and students can use private chat to get in touch and have a one-to-one conversation whenever needed.
- Conduct exams online. Enable exam tests to those who cannot be present at the university.
Attracting prospective students and promoting your programme portfolio
Winning great students is every university’s ultimate aim. You can take a variety of measures to present your programs, campus, and the facilities available for students. However, not all prospective students will join events such as open days, presentations, etc. If that’s a challenge you need to face, don’t worry. You have webinars, and you can use them to organise:
- Open days online. Such an event can substitute a traditional one held on the campus. Access the platform on your mobile and invite those who could not join you physically.
- Virtual tours around the campus. That’s what you can do as part of your open days. Your mobile phone will come in handy here again. Plan a webinar during which you will show your future students every nook and cranny of the campus.
- Online meetings with teachers and current students. Let candidates meet people who work and study at your university. Organise a webinar and invite a professor, the dean, or representatives of a student organisation to co-host it with you. Encourage them to share the first-hand experience with the audience.
- Online recruitment guide. With webinars, you can guide your prospective students through the recruitment process. Encourage them to join an online meeting at which you advise them on what documents to provide, what application fees to pay, etc. It’s a perfect opportunity to answer all their questions and clear all their doubts before they apply.
How can universities benefit from using webinars?
A benefit you cannot miss is the fact that you will boost your image of an educational institution that’s up to date with current trends and tools. If you remember what we said above about Gen Z and their expectations, you will surely admit that’s something worth your effort.
What else do you gain?
- More students. You can reach out even to those living in the most distant parts of the world. The geographical distance doesn’t matter when you and your audience have access to a webinar platform.
- New study programs. With a much wider target audience, a handy online tool and access to experts from all over the world, you can afford adding new courses to your offer.
- Better contact with prospective and current students. If you cannot get in touch with them in person, during webinars, you can chat, have a discussion, share opinions as well as give and receive feedback.
- Inclusive education. Think about disabled students, single parents who have no one to care for their kids while they are away, and people having shift work.
How can students benefit from webinars?
As soon as you make webinars part of your toolset, your students will benefit from them as well. For instance, they can:
- Take a course even if they cannot be physically present on the campus.
- Take part in programs their local universities don’t offer.
- Meet renowned experts without having to leave their home.
- Adjust their study mode to their needs, e.g. related to other duties such as work, family matters, etc.
- Study wherever they are, as long as they have a mobile device and Internet access.
Which webinar features will be your utmost supporters?
As you already know, webinars are real-time meetings taking place online. Thanks to the audio and video features, your audience will feel as if they were in a real classroom or auditorium.
Before you run your webinar, make sure participants know when it starts and how to enter the webinar room. Send them personalised invitations and include all the details they need.
When setting up your webinar, don’t forget to add your logo and brand colours to all user-facing elements, using Custom Branding feature.
Do you worry you will have to book a classroom with a whiteboard for your webinar? You won’t need it! With the virtual Whiteboard feature, you can write and draw as you speak and add extra information to your presentation.
Most webinar platforms, like ClickMeeting, provide the Screen sharing feature. It comes in handy whenever you want to show something on your screen, e.g. take your audience through a process, step by step.
Thanks to the chat and the Q&A, you can talk with attendees in real time and answer their questions. The survey and polls feature will let you organise online exams and get feedback from students.
Many webinar platforms are integrated with Moodle so you can easily make your webinars a part of your LMS toolset. Also, at ClickMeeting, you have access to API, and can customise webinars in line with your needs.
You can also store all your course files within an available storage space. Whenever needed, upload them to Dropbox to share them with your audience.
Last but not least, record your webinars and publish them on your website or social media channels for those who could not participate online.
To find out more, why not Register your interest here for UC EXPO 2020!