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WebinarsExploring the Potential of Webinars as an Emerging Educational Tool in Higher...

Exploring the Potential of Webinars as an Emerging Educational Tool in Higher Education: Insights from a Survey-Based Study in India

Students today express a keen interest in engaging with interactive online lessons. While platforms like YouTube offer a plethora of educational content, the interaction between instructors and students is often limited to text-based comments or live graphics. Face-to-face interaction remains crucial for clarifying doubts and gaining comprehensive knowledge. Webinars emerge as an excellent teaching tool, providing a real-time, face-to-face interaction experience through computers or mobile phones, making knowledge dissemination more effective. Despite the potential benefits, there is a notable lack of awareness about webinars among students, particularly in India.

As of the time this article was written, the prevalence of webinars in India is limited, with Sarsuna College in West Bengal being a pioneer in organizing such sessions. To bridge this gap, there is a pressing need for more webinars to be organized, spreading awareness of their utility among students. Survey results indicate that students in urban areas, with average economic backgrounds, who own computers or smartphones, are more likely to participate in webinars. However, many students, especially those unfamiliar with webinar participation, harbour reservations about engaging through their devices.

Gender, smartphone ownership, and age do not significantly influence students’ opinions on the feasibility and usefulness of webinars. However, the survey underscores that students who have experienced webinars tend to be more supportive of their various aspects. Additionally, those accustomed to using YouTube for academic purposes exhibit a higher inclination toward incorporating webinars into academic settings.

The location of students plays a pivotal role in shaping their perspectives on webinars. Rural areas face challenges related to inadequate internet connectivity and infrastructure, creating uncertainty about the feasibility and effectiveness of webinars. Conversely, semi-urban and urban areas, well-equipped with internet access, are more conducive to webinar adoption.

Institutional infrastructure emerges as a critical factor influencing students’ support for integrating webinars into their educational institutions. Favourable infrastructure enhances students’ willingness to embrace webinars, while inadequacies dampen their enthusiasm.

The survey identifies several factors contributing to students’ preference for webinars. The availability of resources, the potential to reduce teacher shortages, and the ability to access recorded lectures rank high among these factors. Students appreciate the convenience of attending lectures from any location, the interactive nature of webinars, and the absence of transportation costs. Making friends and expanding networks through wide-ranging participants also holds significance.

Overall, students advocate for the incorporation of webinars into higher education. However, to facilitate this integration, there is a need for increased awareness, improved infrastructure, and careful consideration of challenges such as teacher training, technology access, and electricity continuity. The study acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift toward web-based learning, emphasizing the importance of assessing webinars’ sustained role in post-pandemic education.Challenges persist, including the digital divide, inadequately trained teachers, technical limitations, and awareness gaps in society. The study recommends meticulous planning, consultation with instructional design and technology support staff, and government intervention to address these challenges and ensure effective implementation of webinars in Indian universities. The future research agenda includes a broader sampling of universities and cross-sectional representation to comprehensively analyse student opinions and efficiency across states. Statistical tools like data envelopment analysis and regression methods will aid in a nuanced examination of webinar efficacy and determinants.

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