A blend of the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar’, ‘webinar’ is the latest in a list of terminologies we ought to keep in mind in an age of growing internet-dependency. A webinar is exactly like seminar, except for the fact that it is held on the internet and is chaired and attended by an exclusively online gathering. This is different from a webcast that can also include a physically-present audience. Participants log on to an online portal and attend the live feed which will be organized, promoted and hosted by the creator.
A one-to-many communication method, webinars have numerous benefits aside from the obvious advantages of recovering time and distance. Depending on how it has been conducted, the process of interacting and relaying information to the audience can be highly efficient. Using interactive tools such as chats, polls, and surveys, etc. webinars accommodate a large number of participants without gathering them in one place.
All one needs to participate in or conduct a webinar is good quality video conferencing software, a stable internet connection, and camera and sound equipment. These conferencing equipments and multimedia allow viewers to communicate through live video, online slide presentations, chat boxes and even social media platforms like Reddit and Twitter.
The format is especially helpful for students preparing for college entrances and even those taking extra credit courses. Many institutions offer professional webinar-based online classes offering the following advantages over physical face-to-face instruction mode of learning:
Webinars allow its audience to access the material at any time, and at any place. Students can use their laptops, the library computer school or university, or even gain access to the portal through internet cafes. Many university students work part-time jobs in order to fulfill their day-to-day expenses because of which they do not have time to attend live seminars or workshops. Fortunately, they do not have to worry about missing out once they enroll for webinar-based learning.
While it is not entirely in our hands to decide what kind of seminars or similar events are being held in our locality, much less the topics they decide to breach; webinar portals offer a range of topics for us to choose from. After creating an account, users can sign up for different conferences and go through them at their own pace. Some portal also allows users to request topics if the one they are looking for are unavailable.
Most webinars also come with download-able materials! This can be printable notes, transcripts, slide-show presentations, and even recorded footage of the live webcast. These options are immensely helpful for distance learners, or anyone with a rigorous schedule. Should the portal be taken down from the internet for any possible circumstances, users can keep a copy of the webinars they have attended for future use and access at any time.
Saving time means saving money. On the one hand, organizers themselves can save thousands by forgoing the traditional process of booking a venue, inviting a panel, checking for provision of refreshments, and so on; and on the other hand, attendees do not have to worry about transportation, appropriate attire, entry fees, etc.
Though there are ample opportunities for interaction with a live audience, online platforms allow users to communicate in a more fluid and organized manner through chat-rooms and forums. Moreover, they can also download a copy of the transcript for future reference. Webinars hosted by universities give the opportunity for students to interact with their professors in a somewhat informal setting, allowing them to build a rapport with the faculty.
Webinars can also provide a more comprehensive understanding of its discourse. A recent study by the US Department of Education has revealed that students, who supplement their learning with online courses, tend to perform modestly better than their counterparts who are strictly focused on traditional classroom mode of learning.
All these benefits are at the cost of strict self-regulation by participants. While casual seminar attendees can simply enjoy being a part of an intellectual discussion, students need to ensure that they have made effective use of the information dispersed. The discipline required on their part further accelerates their performance in classroom and professional settings. That being considered, it is then no surprise that webinars are becoming a popular means of acquiring an online education.