What is a Webinar ?

Webinars are very powerful training tools in and of themselves. It may be more productive to think of a Webinar as a tool that lets you use other media in a virtual environment. Think of a Webinar as an empty shell, capable of sharing just about any other media tool available, and providing a spectrum of interactions and involvement.
"Webinars have so many features and so much elasticity, they should be able to fit any needs. For training, Webinars are a dynamic tool, able to adapt to different training scenarios along the spectrum from teacher centered (didactic) to participant centered (immersion) and everything else in between (engagement)."
Imagine training that actively engages participants and facilitators as they share and explore a new software product. They pose questions and debate the answers, they challenge assumptions. They revise documents, adjust numbers on a spreadsheet, and explore alternative solutions. Were you imagining this taking place in a traditional classroom setting? Change your picture and imagine it in a virtual environment that can be instantly manipulated to meet the needs of the participants in reaching the training objectives. Participants can submit questions to the instructor, and can discuss issues among themselves without interrupting the flow of the class. These features and many others are part of a delivery method that goes by a variety of names: virtual classroom, synchronous learning, online instruction, and many others. I refer to these events as Webinars. As travel costs increase, and as “virtual organizations” become more common, robust virtual training, sharing and working together are also becoming more common. Webinars meet the demands of this environment. In this article, I explore Webinars and offer some ideas for making them highly effective.

What is a Webinar?

“Webinar,” of course, is a made-up word, back-formed from “Web” and “seminar.” In other words, a Webinar is a seminar that takes place on the World Wide Web. You might think of it as a specialized form of Web conference. Like a seminar conducted in a meeting room, a Webinar has a start time, an end time, and a plan or agenda that describes the activity and the objectives. There may be one or more presenters, or even a panel discussion on the agenda. The presenters or panel members need not be in the same physical location — like the audience (the learners or other participants), they can be anywhere.