Many brands and individual professionals used their stay-at-home period due to COVID-19 to create training programmes and present them as webinars. The objective is to impart knowledge to help the viewer to better know the solution and to use them more effectively or to better understand principles to help enhance their workflow. One such industry professional is Robert Soo of Cogent Acoustics, a Singapore based consultant. Robert decided to use his time to educate and inspire the potential next generation of AV engineers in Singapore. SI Asia has a brief chat with him about his webinars.


What is your objective with these webinars?
The Covid-19 situation is a huge game-changer. People are now working more from home and the education sector is steering towards home-based learning as well as remote and decentralised co-curricular programs for students. Not surprising, all my on-site training programs were subsequently put on hold. I didn’t want the learning and sharing of knowledge to stop, so I embarked on conducting online training sessions soon after the pandemic lockdown began. I then decided to extend it to schools as well, because I have always had a desire to educate and inspire the potential next generation of AV engineers, and what better place to start with than the schools? It’s also my way of giving back to society. Besides, I love being able to help raise the quality of audio delivery and have the opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do – debunk myths and fix common erroneous audio practices going on in many schools today.

How are you getting the buy-in from the schools and institutes?
There is no hard selling here. Invitations were basically extended to participate in this program to upskill students, teachers and technicians and help improve the overall AV experience in the schools. My stance is that if anyone or organisation has a genuine desire to learn, be better and wants to up their game, they will be keen to sign up. By this, I am assured I have an interested party on the other end who’s eager to listen and learn.

Are these scheduled live webinars? What platform are you using?
Each session is scheduled and planned meticulously with the respective school coordinators, as only they would know when both staff and students from all levels are available to attend a webinar together. This can often be more challenging than figuring when all planets are aligned!

It is usually conducted through platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, etc. and the choice of platform depends very much on individual school’s preference and their confidence in the platform’s ability to safeguard online security, which is of utmost importance to the education sector these days. Regardless of which platform it is running on, there’ll always be ways and opportunities for the participants, students and staff to interact and ask questions in a safe and controlled environment. Review of how well the participants have understood the session is also be carried out in the form of an online questionnaire or a poll.

What are some of the topics that you have planned?
I want to focus on practical topics, fundamentals that are often taken for granted, stuff that participants can put to use immediately, so for starters I shared about microphones, the various types and unique characteristics, how to select and use them correctly and effectively in schools, from simple speeches to musical productions, and even touched on hygiene maintenance, an important discipline today. I plan to follow up with topics focusing on the audio mixer, a hot favourite for most. Any other future topics would depend on the feedback gathered from the webinar participants.

Are the webinars later available on demand?
No, currently these webinars are only live sessions and not available on-demand later. For now, these sessions have to be kept private because they are conducted for individual schools and not for the public audience in general. However, should this progress into a more developed program, the possibility of viewing on-demand will certainly be considered.

When did you start and how many schools have you lined up already?
My first session started a few weeks ago and the following sessions will run till the end of July, possibly extending thru August. For this first run of webinars, around twenty schools have responded, but I understand more will be writing in to request for sessions in the days ahead, as several schools have fed back to me that they will need a little more time to organise as the ever-evolving Covid-19 situation has caused quite a stir in their school programming.