WebJunction Experience: Webinars

Find out how to make the most of your WebJunction webinar viewing

Jennifer Peterson /

If you are new to or unfamiliar with WebJunction webinars, you may not know that we began regularly hosting webinars ten years ago. Why webinars? Library staff frequently cited that critical barriers to pursuing learning were lack of time or funds to attend in-person training, and WebJunction responded with webinars that have since become a key component of the WebJunction experience, made free and available to all who work or volunteer in libraries.

Thanks to the generous support of OCLC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many state library agencies across the U.S. for their support of our webinars, accessible anytime, from anywhere.

As technologies have improved, both in terms of webconferencing platforms and internet bandwidth, the webinar experience has become more accessible and stable. And in producing more than 200 webinars, we've learned a lot about making the experience engaging, instructive and relevant. (See 36 tips for making webinars that don’t stink, an OCLC Next blog post by our director, Sharon Streams).

Ways in which we host high-quality webinars are that we invite library leaders and successful practitioners to bring their expertise and experience to our webinars. We provide training to our presenters, to share with them, everything we've learned about webinars, from the technical to the topical. We also ask our attendees to complete a short evaluation after each session and are committed to applying your feedback to improve our webinars and to bring the topics you're interested in to our webinar programming.

Here we've gathered information on our webinar basics and how to make the most of WebJunction webinars.

WebJunction Webinar Basics

Before the Webinar

How do I register for upcoming webinars?

We announce our webinars first on the right side of our homepage, and on the WebJunction Event Calendar. You can register when you see it posted there, via our social media channels, or in our newsletter, Crossroads. Just click on Register to Attend, and you'll be asked to complete our short WebEx registration form. We'll use this information to send you an instant confirmation and a reminder the day before the webinar. You can actually register for the webinar even after it's started, and know that if you miss it, we'll send you an email once the recording has been posted.

Special note on time zones: Our webinars usually begin at 3:00 Eastern, but to be sure you know what time the webinar will begin in your own time zone, we have added a link on our event pages (below the register button) to access a World Clock time zone converter. You can also customize your time zone within the WebEx registration process, but we encourage you to always double-check the time.

Can a group from our library attend the webinar?

We've learned that some libraries are able to gather a group together, perhaps with library board members and volunteers, but often with other library staff interested in the topic. This could be one additional person watching with you, or perhaps a meeting room reserved for the webinar viewing, complete with a projector and speakers, so everyone is able to see and hear the presentation.

If you plan on gathering colleagues together to watch a webinar (or as we call it, hosting a cohort viewing of a webinar), please indicate this in the webinar registration question, "Are you registering on behalf of a cohort that will view the session together?" You will be contacted following the event with a request for additional information if you'd like your colleagues to receive a certificate for attending. See more about learning together with your team in the section below, Making the Most of WebJunction Webinars, and in the recent article with the Penfield Public Library.

How do I prepare my computer?

We encourage you to join at least ten minutes prior to the event (or up to 30 minutes before the event’s start time) to make sure your browser and computer are properly set up to view the presentation. You can test your browser here: http://www.webex.com/lp/jointest/ or view OS and Browser Requirements. When you log in to a scheduled webinar, you'll hear us welcoming attendees with a technical orientation that will help you test your audio, which can be connected either through your computer or via a telephone (note: all attendees are listen-only, so you won’t need the ability to speak up).

Can I access the slides before the webinar?

The slides and other related links and resources are made available 24 hours before our events, so if you'd like to take a look at the slides or perhaps print them out for note-taking, you can always find them as a PDF to download beginning the day before the webinar. We also send you a reminder of your registration the day before the webinar, and include a link to the event page and a reminder about the slides.

During the Webinar

Webinar platforms and the access they provide to ask questions can fall along a continuum for attendees, from the passive to the active. We've found that when chat is not visible to the full group, or when questions can only be sent to the presenter or host, that the session is not as engaging for attendees. We invite our webinar attendees to participate in an open and engaging chat that remains visible to all. We see this as a way to be efficient with our time together, knowing that attendees have valuable information and experience to share with each other, in addition to the presenter's responses to questions.

Regardless of your location, you can connect with library staff around the globe to ask questions and get immediate feedback with the extra benefit of hearing others' questions and answers. We'll orient you to the chat panel (including how to get technical assistance by chatting directly with WJ Support) so you understand how to share questions and comments with other webinar participants and with the presenters.

In many of our webinars, we also provide access to the annotation tools that can be used for additional engagement, so that the presenter can learn more about your library's experience and staff knowledge. And again, we'll orient you to these tools once we're gathered together in WebEx, so no worries if you're new to the webinar environment!

After the Webinar

Our webinars are recorded and made available in the WebJunction Course Catalog for you to view at a time and in a place convenient for you. You will receive an email following the webinar with information about accessing the recording, and if you have attended the webinar, you'll receive a certificate within a week. If you were unable to attend the webinar, you can also get a certificate upon watching the recording in our Course Catalog. You can also browse a listing of past webinars on WebJunction.org. You are encouraged to share news of our webinar recording with your colleagues for them to view, and perhaps schedule a time to reflect on the webinar as part of a team meeting.

"It was as good as being there. I came away feeling refreshed—and with some good ideas." — webinar attendee

Making the Most of WebJunction Webinars

Learn Together

Over the years we've seen a wonderful evolution toward library teams sharing in what they're learning, often gathering to view and discuss the webinar together. You could gather together as a group (perhaps even with your library board, friends or other volunteers) to view either a live or recorded webinar.

We've heard from libraries that they like this opportunity because everyone hears the same thing and can adopt a common language about the topic, as they work toward a shared understanding of how the team might apply what they've learned in the webinar. Others mention the opportunity it provides for their team to participate in something larger, but still feel safe sharing ideas in small group.

Some teams like to view the recording of the webinar (instead of the live event) so they can pause the session to make time for locally relevant discussion. You could even just watch a small portion of the recording that relates to the topic you would like to explore more deeply, instead of viewing the full recording.

We created a Viewing Party Guide (doc) for a past online conference that has a number of tips to take full advantage of viewing with others. We encourage you and your colleagues to consider these options, to mix and match the approach that works best for your library team.

"I attended this webinar together with a group of staff and trustees and we had a great discussion after about our own services." — webinar attendee

Learner Guides

We've learned that it can help to have a guide to help learners actively apply what they've learned in the webinar. With this in mind, we often create learner guides for our webinars, in collaboration with presenters, to help you take your webinar learning and apply it immediately to your work. Each guide includes a handful of questions for reflection or discussion and a few additional activities that can help you, alone or with others, broaden your thinking and help you take action. Here is an example of a learner guide (doc), from the recent webinar, Above and Beyond: Developing a Culture of Organizational Citizenship.

A Piece of the Learning Pie

As you can see, webinars provide a number of different options for learning. They can be viewed live or as a recording, alone or with others. They can be a way to meet an immediate learning need or perhaps they can help your team work toward achieving an organizational goal for the year. We know that WebJunction webinars have been used by staff who have implemented the self-directed achievement model, where staff commit one hour a week to learn something new. And we know that many others use our webinars to apply toward continuing education requirements from their organization or state library.

We've also shared information about other ways (or modes) to learn at WebJunction and other examples of how these modes can be optimized to represent a piece of your robust library learning pie. Learn more in WebJunction Experience: Self-Paced Courses and WebJunction Experience: Blended Learning Strengthens Library Practice.


Photos from top:

Lansing Library staff view a WebJunction webinar together. Courtesy Lansing Library.

A learner in action. Courtesy Sarah Stewart.

WebJunction staff learn together too!

Quick reference on little known things about our webinars

  • Registration is FREE.
  • Our chat is open and visible to all gathered in the session.
  • Our sessions are always recorded and made available as a webinar recording.
  • Register and you'll get a confirmation and a reminder.
  • If you register but aren't able to attend at the last minute, don't worry, we'll also email you when the recording is available.
  • Slides and other resources are posted the day BEFORE the webinar.
  • A certificate is emailed to all attendees (and if you watch the webinar recording, you can get a certificate).
  • We create learner guides with presenters to help you take your webinar learning and apply it immediately to your work, through reflection or discussion and activities.
  • We provide support and training for our webinar presenters. If you have practical expertise to share about the great work you're doing for your library community and would like to present a webinar, we'd love to hear from you! Contact us at [email protected].