A series of international English Webinars was launched in March 2021. Webinars replaced traditional seminars of penitentiary English organized at the Czech Prison Service Academy in reaction to the pandemic restrictions.
On 2 June, twelve prison professionals from seven countries participated in a webinar focused on leadership in crisis. Six participants represented the Czech Prison Service; the other ones were from Estonia, France, Latvia, Lithuania, Lower Saxony, and Slovakia. The facilitator was a former prison governor from Lower Saxony, Rüdiger Wohlgemuth.
Before the webinar, each participant had been asked to send their biographies and to prepare two oral contributions. One was a philosophical statement on leadership while the other was related to their individual experience with leadership during the pandemic. A short discussion followed. Written feedback from the participants is expected soon and will be published on the EPTA website.
The Czech Prison Service Academy is already preparing three webinars that are going to be held in autumn 2021.
To ensure international exchange of information and good practices, professional English language training to selected prison staff categories, such as governors or treatment specialists, is essential. General language schools and universities do not cover penitentiary English which is indispensable for international meetings and conferences. It is the role of academies to provide language training for penitentiary purposes and practice.
The Czech Prison Service Academy as the initiator and organizer of this innovative programme would like to encourage EPTA members to get involved in any of the following roles: organizer/co-organizer; facilitator/lecturer; teacher/consultant of English language; moderator; technical supporter/advisor; or webinar manager.
Applications for the following webinars are welcome. Information about the specific requirements and all instructions will be sent to the individual applicants.
Contact person: Iva Prudlová, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants Feedback on International English Webinar Organized in June 2021
A written feedback is a part of international English webinars because the participants can practice their spelling and even grammar. Feedback, however, serves as a source for the analysis on which the project can be improved and developed.
In this article, we offer the reader the results of the feedback on the English webinar run on 2 June 2021. Eleven out of twelve participants from seven countries sent their feedback.
The 1 – 5 rating scale
In the first part, participants were asked to rate their satisfaction by indicating the level of agreement within nine statements. They all selected 5 (strongly agree) for the preparation phase, during which they obtained tasks, instructions, and support. The organization of the webinar was evaluated with 5, short of one participant, who put 4. The evaluation of the initial lecture ranged from 2 to 5. The webinar´s contribution to the English professional language proficiency was found to be very high – half of the participants rated it as 5, the other half as 4. The response to the statement:” I gained new knowledge/experience applicable to my practice” was rated by one participant as 2, three participants wrote 3, and six participants wrote 4. They all strongly agreed that they would recommend their colleagues to participate.
Bellow you can read the participants´ reactions.
What did they like the most?
Exchange of information and ideas
I found out that in this period of Covid-19 we have similar problems, doesn´t matter what nationality we are.
We could discuss an interesting topic reflecting the present situation.
A relevant and unique topic.
The exchange of so different people, working in different circumstances, but I realized, that in many situations we have the same problems.
I´m convinced we are very good at our practices and we should be proud of our achievements and share them with the others.
I gained an overview about the approaches to the professional challenges in other countries.
Having an exchange with colleagues from several countries in Europe is very enriching.
It was an awesome opportunity to meet new colleagues and to see my friends.
It was a unique occasion to established new contacts for further cooperation.
The opportunity to meet new colleagues from abroad is always interesting and enriching.
I found it interactive and a great way to connect with professionals from different countries.
Language skills improvement
I appreciated the opportunity to use English and to think in English
I was very satisfied with our preparation and the quality of the individual contributions.
I got enough homework and had to do preparations before the webinar. It helped practise my English, but also it contributed to my management skills improvement. A positive challenge was the time limit; the time for our presentations was quite short, but it was very good, because I had to focus and concentrate.
My biggest takeaway was fist webinar´s experience and now I have a lot more courage to talk and participate in other webinars.
Some more answers
I liked that the sources to improve the skills of leadership were provided.
The lecture provided a positive mindset.
I liked that there were no Power Point presentations 🙂
I really appreciated the organization of the webinar, preparation phase to explore the topic and the wealth of knowledge the facilitator has shared during the webinar. I’ve had a chance to be a part of an international event.
I admire the organizer and the facilitator for their work!
I liked how the webinar was built up, it was focused and it had a clear purpose.
The time was worth spending.
What was not so good and should be improved?
The only thing that bothered me was that we couldn´t meet face to face. I think that it caused the problems with the organization of the discussion.
It was quite impersonal, because the video was most of the time off. But I suppose, it’s for technical reasons.
Technical difficulties related to the usage of Skype for Business.
It was strange that we had to switch off our cameras and we did not see each other. I think it is possible next time, because I prefer to see all the participants all the time, their reactions are very informing and supporting.
I regret that technically the opening of all cameras was not possible continuously. It was frustrating.
I really appreciate every opportunity to practice English and these English webinars are a great idea. However, I would welcome more interactivity, especially from the moderator. More than three quarters of the webinar participants presented their ideas on certain topic in predefined order without any comments or idea that would come from the moderator/facilitator. I think a few words from the moderator after each participant’s presentation would make the flow of the seminar more natural and lively.
For a future programme improvement, it might be engaging if a facilitator would also attend in the discussion part by giving questions for participants (online experience). It would be even more amazing if the circumstances in the future allow organizing a seminar face-to face and doing little international workshops on relevant topics in relation to the penitentiary systems.
It was too short.
In comparison with the traditional face-to-face form of English seminars, the webinars are more demanding and less convenient. We attend in our workplaces. Anyone can enter our offices any time to ask for something, the phone calls are disruptive; we cannot fully concentrate and enjoy the special occasion.
What were some other messages written by the participants?
The webinar was enriching due to three aspects: 1) the useful sources for reading; 2) the positivity mentioned by the facilitator; 3) the insights from the international partners covering leadership challenges during Covid-19 at the teaching institutions and at the workplaces.
We appreciate the precise and excellent organisation of the seminar. The time management and preparations are inspiring.
The webinar was organized well and everyone knew when to talk. I would like more prison professionals to get involved to share their real experience with Covid-19 in the future webinars.
I´m honoured that I could participate. This webinar revealed that in this difficult period people are able to deal with the challenges and to improve their skills (especially in the technical literacy). I will be happy with any penitentiary topic of the following webinars.
I think it is a great international platform to exchange ideas and to build/improve various professional skills together.
Iva, I´d like to thank you so much for your neverending support of international events. You are the professional who pushes us to be better. My thanks also go to the other participants. I believe such webinars are necessary in these times. They allow us to keep learning about the European experience in the penitentiary field.
Special thanks to everyone who contributed to organising and leading this webinar!
Thank you for your time in organizing and delivering this webinar.
Once again, thank you and bravo for the organization of these exchanges.