- 1 Year
- 75 Webinars
- 39,894 Live logins
- 130,871 Recording views
PART I: BACKGROUND AND PROJECT INITIATION
Over the last year, I have had the privilege of assisting the College of American Pathologists with a tremendously successful webinar series. They were kind enough to let me write about it here with some observations and insights from my viewpoint as technical administrator and moderator.
Last March, as COVID-19 isolation and work-from-home policies rapidly went into effect around the world, pathology trainees who would normally receive supervised training, case work, and practical experience in hospitals, clinics, or practices suddenly found themselves at home with fewer opportunities to enhance their knowledge. The College of American Pathologists (CAP) recognized that as the largest member society for pathologists, they were in a unique position to provide education for members of the profession in the earlier part of their careers.
The CAP thought they might be able to offer a few training lectures designed specifically for pathology residents, presented by experienced faculty. They decided to call the offering a Virtual Lecture Series. The initial thought was that they would offer a lecture each workday in April, focusing on different specialty areas of pathology study and practice. Pathology residents would register once and be able to attend any of the lecture subjects that caught their eye.
I got an email on Thursday, March 26th, asking if I had time for a brief phone call to talk about the practicality of this tentative idea, which hadn’t yet been approved by management. The following Wednesday (April 1) we held our first lecture – four working days later! 1818 people had registered and 879 actually attended.
INSIGHT – YOU CAN GO FROM CONCEPT TO PRODUCTION IN A REMARKABLY SHORT TIME IF YOU HAVE AN IDENTIFIED AUDIENCE WITH A SHARED NEED AND AN EXISTING COMMUNICATION NETWORK. NOT EVERY WEBINAR NEEDS A TWO-MONTH MARKETING CAMPAIGN.
In a heartening show of solidarity and service to their profession, dozens of experienced and noted pathology specialists readily agreed to present lectures online without asking for payment or reimbursement for their time. Most had presentations already available in their files from past lectures or materials they had planned to present at conferences that were suddenly cancelled, so they were able to quickly suggest topics and brush up their content to join the roster with very little lead time.
INSIGHT – DON’T OVERLOOK THE BENEFIT OF BRINGING EXISTING PRESENTATIONS TO A WIDER AUDIENCE. NOT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE NEW AND UNSEEN.
The CAP thought that they were likely to get some interest from pathology residents in the USA who wanted a way to fill the gaps on normal training opportunities they were missing during lockdown. Maybe word of mouth would slowly spread and attendance might grow over time.
Instead, they were surprised to find instant, strong demand from listeners around the world. People attended the lectures at the most inconvenient local times from dozens of countries on almost every continent. We also saw attendance from pathologists working in practice, well out of their residencies. Doctors loved the ability to get refreshers on specialty topics from some of the top practitioners in their field and to join in the larger spirit of community learning.
INSIGHT – THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A LOCAL WEBINAR. CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL ACCOMMODATE GLOBAL INTEREST AND AUDIENCES INCLUDING PEOPLE YOU HADN’T EXPECTED.
In part 2, I’ll examine operational and technical issues we encountered.