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OACS webinars draw people together

Written on December 12th, 2008

Technology provides forum to communicate with member schools

Lorna Keith says her recent webinar for a Board Leadership Diploma Program (BLD) session received positive feedback and is a great way to bring together people from a distance.

Keith, the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) director of school quality programs, says the webinar technology was piloted as a way to see if it is something people would be interested to use.

“The benefit definitely is being able to draw people together from a distance,” says Keith.

“I was very pleased with the way it went and I think that from the feedback … we really are going to go ahead and use the technology,” she says.

The BLD consists of 10 sessions that are usually held on Saturdays when the OACS hosts a conference. The sessions cover different aspects of board training and are open to any board member at an OACS school. The recent webinar - Board Planning: More Than a Project - is about long-range planning.

Keith says usually the BLD sessions are scheduled for an hour and a half, but the webinar was only scheduled for an hour and there was time to spare. Everyone was very focused, Keith says, as there is less social talking when remotely coming together.

A webinar, or web conference, is a way to present live presentations or meetings online. The two-way mechanism allows people to participate remotely and requires access to high speed Internet and a phone. The OACS uses InterCall to run the webinars.

Keith scheduled the BLD webinar on a weekday from 1 to 2 p.m. so people could take their lunch hour to participate in the webinar. She presented a PowerPoint presentation and participants could interrupt at anytime with questions.

Participants joined in from across the province. Many were pleased to have the service accessible without having to travel.

“It’s a good way for us to bring information to our schools,” says Keith. “I see various areas of our operations here can really be enhanced by having meetings this way.”

Keith plans to use a webinar an upcoming meeting with a school board.

Ray Hendriks, the OACS director of advancement, says they were waiting for the response before planning more BLD webinars and now hope to continue to use the tool.

Hendriks says the idea seems to be picking up, as there are conversations about using webinars to allow principals in remote areas to attend principal meetings.

“Those kind of ideas are now coming forward,” says Hendriks.