Healthcare Interpreter’s Guide to Webinar-based Learning

As a healthcare interpreter, you have developed strategies to be as prepared as possible to navigate all the twists and turns of interpreting in a medical environment. But when it comes to your own professional development, have you developed strategies to help you navigate the world of professional development – conferences, classes and training events? Do these strategies include learning in a live online environment? Whether you are new to healthcare interpreting or have many years of experience, you have probably noticed more and more opportunities to learn online in a live webinar format.

If (and dare I say when) you plan to attend a live webinar for your professional development, there are a few things you can do to get the most bang for your online-learning-buck.


 BEFORE the event

  • Select events that will help you grow professionally. Is this a no-brainer? Probably, but a misstep here will torpedo your entire experience. Review the event description and objectives. Then ask yourself: How will this event help me become a better healthcare interpreter? If you’re not satisfied with your answer, you’re probably better off investing in a different event.
  • Know attendance protocols and requirements. Some webinars will accept an unlimited number of registrations, but only have room for a limited number of attendees. This is usually only the case if the webinar is a free event, but if it is the case, you’ll want to arrive early to avoid getting shut out. Also, if you are planning to use the learning event for continuing education credit, be sure you are aware of the organizer’s attendance and participation requirements to receive credit. Viewing a recording of the webinar might be sufficient, but then again, it might not be.
  • Select a learning-friendly device. Just because you can connect on a mobile device with a 2 X 4 inch screen doesn’t mean that’s going to give you the best experience. Be sure to review the system requirements, which should be included in a registration confirmation email, and make any changes to your device. If at all possible, test your device’s connection well ahead of time. If using VoIP for audio connection, make sure your device has those features enabled. You might need to enlist the help of your organization’s IT department if you are not the device owner.  Allow time to get everything working properly.
  • Save the link to join the webinar in a calendar reminder (or other safe spot). This will save you from frantically searching your inbox for the magical link just minutes before the event is scheduled to begin.
  • Complete pre-reading. If the organizer sent materials to review ahead of time, be sure to review them. If not, consider doing a little independent research on the topic; the concepts will seem less daunting if you are somewhat familiar with them.

DURING the event

  • Join early. Ten minutes early is usually good, but the earlier the better. This way you will have time to troubleshoot technical glitches, and you’ll be ready to go when the organizer starts the event. Use the wait time to catch up on other quick tasks, so the time isn’t wasted.
  • Eliminate distractions. Select a learning-friendly location. This usually means minimal background noise and no interruptions from others. Close your email and social media accounts (unless you will be using them for the purpose of the class, like tweeting highlights). Hopefully the event is so engaging that you don’t even think about checking your email or social media accounts, but even the most focused person can be distracted by news from a cousin who just found out she’s going to have twins.
  • Use the interactive tools. Each event will have different tools, but a chat box is pretty standard. Send questions and comments in real-time, don’t wait for a Q & A period at the end to start typing away. This way you won’t forget your questions, and the moderator can more effectively facilitate group discussions. If the chat is viewable by all attendees, stay on topic. It is exciting to show up at an online learning event and discover that a former high school classmate is also attending, but off-topic conversations are distracting for, well, everyone. If the event includes time to network with other attendees, usually a few minutes before the scheduled start time, take advantage during the designated time. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to use the tool(s). You won’t break them. I promise. 

AFTER the event (or between events when presented as a series)

  • Write down one to three action you will take as a result of what you learned. Don’t just make a mental note. Write it down. You’ll be much more likely to follow through.
  • Make a list of additional resources you will review. The instructor probably mentioned a few websites, articles, or books that caught your interest. Document these with your action plan.
  • Document your participation. Keep a folder or log to track all professional development activities immediately after they happen. It will be a lot easier than getting to the end of the year and trying to recall your learning activities during the previous 12 months. I’ve never done that, by the way.

What strategies do you use to get the most out of your online learning events?

Need help making the most of your online learning? Use our free, interactive Webinar Learning Guide & Worksheet!

Posted on January 22, 2014 and filed under Interpreter.