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ATHENews - Volume 27, Number 6 - July 15, 2013 - ATHE Adding Webinars to Professional Development O
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ATHE Adding Webinars to Professional Development Offerings

by David Kaye, Vice President for Membership & Marketing

ATHE has always aspired to be a valuable year-round organization. This has proven to be challenging with the amount of focus and energy the members place on the annual national conference. The Association is busy twelve months a year on several fronts, ranging from the publication of journals to our extensive, ongoing work in advocacy. Attempts to create year-round development opportunities, like those that are plentiful at the conference, however, has been far more difficult to establish and sustain. The primary obstacle has been the logistical complexity and cost of holding a workshop, seminar or symposium during the academic year. With access to sufficient development funds an ongoing problem for most members, the idea of attending such an event is out of reach for many. This is particularly true if they need those limited funds to attend the summer conference.

Last year ATHE held its first webinar. This on-line session focused on strategies to write a successful conference proposal. Feedback was very positive and this has led to ongoing discussions about the future of these web-based events. We see this as an excellent method for the Association to provide many of the benefits members seek in a conference-like session, without the added expense of traveling to a geographic location to participate. The recently conducted ATHE membership survey had questions designed to gauge just how deep the interest level is in webinars, and also what topics would be of greatest value to members. The survey revealed that just under a third of the respondents found on-line learning modules (webinars) as very important to their professional development. “Advocating for your Department,” “Fundraising” and “Local, State and National Advocacy” were topics selected by respondents most frequently of the choices offered in the survey. Participants in the survey also submitted several ideas for future webinars including innovative teaching techniques, ethical teaching, Theatre MOOCs, assessment, advising undergraduate theatre majors, the intrinsic value of theatre and a theatre degree, moving from adjunct to full-time; from associate to full professor; getting tenure, from article to book and writing the book proposal. ATHE will continue to collect information on the membership’s interest in web-based development models. We expect the data will show a growing desire for these offerings.

The potential in web-based offerings like this is enormous as a way to provide a great variety of development opportunities as well as presentation possibilities in a highly cost effective and accessible fashion. Even if there is a fee for some events, the expense can be kept to a fraction of what it would be for an on-site experience.

One possibility being explored is for ATHE to host a monthly webinar during the academic year, with one focus group presenting one event annually. This plan would provide a broad spectrum of offerings that would serve the diverse interests of the Association’s membership.

Most recently, several webinars were conducted that focused on issues related to ATHE governance at both the FGR (Focus Group Representative) and Governance Committee levels. Plans are currently being developed to offer a web version of a popular session from last year’s conference focusing on making your theatre department irreplaceable.

So keep a close eye as our ongoing efforts to make ATHE a year-round presence with new programs to help you develop your teaching, scholarship and artistry and to provide you with exciting ways to present your work.

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