The Talk About Local team are a busy bunch this month – as well as working with working with the winners of Nesta’s Neighbourhood Challenge to help them find a voice online, we’ve also been training trainers within UK online centres that have received funding from its Community Capacity Builders project:
The aim of the project is to develop local networks of organisations, people and resources and mobilise them to help digitally excluded people understand the benefits of being online.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve held a series of training sessions with people working in these UK online centres using WebEx’s webinar software which, as the blurb says: ‘combines desktop sharing through a web browser with phone conferencing and video, so everyone sees the same thing while you talk.’ We’ve used this many times before when training people from all over the country and found it to be a good compromise – remote training will never be as good as being there in person when you can easily read the instant reaction and adjust accordingly but when there’s not enough time to reach each place individually, it works well. You can show presentations within the webinar, share your desktop to show demonstrations and online videos and chat with attendees with Voice over IP and a chat panel – helping them along, answering questions and getting useful feedback. We’ve also found a good by-product of doing it like this has been connecting UK online centres from different regions doing similar things.
In previous webinars, when showing people how to do things like create a simple WordPress website we’ve gone for live online demonstrations – sharing the desktop and doing it there and then. This is good in that the trainees are with you at each step, watching what you’re doing and able to ask questions along the way, but obviously there’s also a risk in that things have a nasty habit of not always behaving as they should! With this latest round of webinars we decided to test out a slightly different approach – most of the webinar content would still be live but the step-by-step ‘how-to’s’ would be screencast videos rather than live demonstrations.
So we recorded three screencast videos using Camtasia screen recording software and uploading the results onto YouTube to share with webinar attendees. Clare White recorded one on ‘Three simple ways to build communities using Facebook‘ and I recorded two on ‘Creating a simple website with WordPress.com‘. With the latter we were well aware instructional videos on WordPress are available at the excellent wordpress.com support site at http://en.support.wordpress.com but wanted something that went at a slower pace and was more tailored to our audience.
The webinar sessions went well and the videos seemed to work – almost everyone came away having built something in WordPress and Facebook, with some interesting discussions around the why’s and wherefore’s of each. If you ave any thoughts on them it would be great to hear them in the comments. And please excuse my BBC voice – although it’s good to know all those weekends with Sherman Youth Theatre as a teenager have finally paid off!