When, in 2008, the global financial crisis was unfolding, I had just finished a two-year consulting & training contract. Organizations the world over were canceling their budgets for precisely the type of staff training I was providing. Panic was palpable. I needed to pivot fast.
My first webinars
Luckily, Skype’s early experimental service – live audio calls for up to 100 participants – caught my eye. As a former broadcaster, I readily tested the feature.
As a demo, I did two one-hour webinars, in quick succession. One talk was about writing for the Internet; the other about crafting good titles.
A small group of family members and friends attended them; none of them is alive today to reminisce. But incidental recordings of both those talks survive.
My first e-courses
Within months, I was churning out entire course plans, complete with pilot shows and ten co-hosting partners. I used the then-nascent Social Media to promote the lot.
I connected with more people during that period than ever before or after that time. Every potential listener or viewer received a personal note from me.
There were even a couple of dissenters, who felt threatened, I guess, and challenged me publicly. That’s when I knew I was truly onto something.
I purchased the technical capacity from a bold and spunky webinar platform, called DimDim. My husband acted as a producer and our young son handled the tech. It all worked like a charm.
On one occasion, during a live session, our cat knocked the webcam over. One viewer was vexed, but the majority of the audience cheered us on. After all, it must have been the original cat meme, I guess.
Effectively, before 2008 ended, I had launched my own educational TV, from my home office, at a cost of 25 USD per month. I was a pioneer and an influencer – well before that term even existed.
Full e-learning production
In the years that followed, I had developed, promoted, and delivered live webinars on Communication-related topics, every month. The sessions were free of charge and open to anyone. One of my early webinars – Five Biggest Secrets of E-Communication – was in such demand that I had to deliver it three times in the same week.
To explain and promote webinars, I drafted a full page of text and gave it to a popular national platform for course promotion, in exchange for an advertisement. The web page that they published must have been the most plagiarized text ever written in Serbian – it kept popping up on many websites I visited.
Through trial and error, I amassed a ton of knowledge about the production of live synchronous e-learning. I even innovated the process, thanks to my professional experience in broadcasting.
Later I shared that know-how in a couple of research papers published in academic publications. Eventually, I became an in-demand consultant & trainer for teams embarking on e-learning initiatives.
Technology has greatly advanced since. It is now easy to deliver basic training online. Globally, the audiences finally became accustomed to learning online – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, designing, producing, and delivering a recurring educational course online and doing it well – i.e. taking care of its promotion, sales, technology, production, rehearsals, delivery, and follow-up – remains a complex challenge for any teacher, trainer, or team of educators out there.
This slide deck on SlideShare contains some tips I had compiled while doing live webinars: