Saturday, May 26, 2012

Book Review - Webinars: A Cookbook for Educators by Nicky Hockly

The Barcelona edtech community of The Round and close allies The Consultants E published their second ebook this week, Webinars:  A Cookbook for Educators by Nicky Hockly.  The author sets out to give the reader the recipe for great webinars and for the most part delivers on her promise.

The goal of The Round is to fill the gap between blogging and publishing, and here they have done just that.  By working with Ms. Hockly, perhaps the world's foremost expert on webinar language training, they have successfully given readers an affordable and convienent guide to running webinars without the hassle of chasing down her archive of blogs, interviews, and discussions.  The author draws nicely on her 20 years of experience as the ebook is laced with links to examples and activities, many from Ms. Hockly herself.

In fact, these are perhaps the most valueable parts of the book.  The videos clearly show the ingredients for making your online session a success.  Unfortunately, I read mine on a traditional B&W Kindle and had to transfer the links to my laptop.  IPad users will be able to benefit from the interactivity of the book.  It is nice to see the tech experts utilize the possibility of enhanced ebooks, something they largly neglected with their first title, 52.

Ms. Hockly begins her instructional guide by showing us around the technology.  She takes us back in time a bit and demonstrates how useful some of the older technology can be, like text chat and audio only.  For trainers who have never attended a webinar or run online training, this step-by-step approach is certainly worthwhile.  The end of each chapter includes 5, 10, and 30 minute activities to apply the lessons to real life.  When the book reaches video conferencing, she does a great job of evaluating the pros and cons of each platform.  Yet for business English trainers, especially those in-company, the absence of Cisco WebEx and Microsoft Live Meeting will be noticeable.  It is also clear from the author that she prefers Adobe Connect above the others.

The second half of the book builds on this platform knowledge and deals with organizing and running a webinar.  Of valuable note here is that the book does not appear to be directed at training language learners, rather to teacher trainers using webinars for professional development.  While her activities and structures can be used in the online classroom, her examples and descriptions are all from CPD situations.  Nonetheless, Ms. Hockly gives the reader a useful list of basic opening and closing activities to bookend a successful webinar.  For those who have never organized a webinar, her list of tasks for moderators and presenters is required reading.  She closes by giving us a nice range of one-liners from other experienced webinar warriors and you will no doubt recognize most of the names.  This certainly added the cherry on top of dessert.

In short, Cookbook is written for inexperienced trainers in online training.  It provides the reader with an excellently organized and easily affordable (€5.15) handbook for setting up and running professional webinars.  Old hands in the virtual environment can also benefit by benchmarking their current webinars against her nearly flawless examples.  However, for trainers who are currently struggling to adapt their face-to-face language training to the online environment, the real recipes are in her earlier work Teaching Online from Delta Publishing.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review Charles and glad you enjoyed the book. Point taken about avoiding Webex and LiveMeeting- I simply don't think either are that good, but I guess especially BE trtainers might find themselves stuck with having to use them.

    Thanks also for the shoutout for Teaching Online :-)