Communication Services & Information Technology
University of California
Communication Services & Information Technology

Posts Tagged: Video conferencing

What is a webinar?

It seems every other call I get is about someone planning a webinar.  After about 30 seconds I realize they are not planning a webinar. Here's a quick primer in web conferencing terms.

The basics:

  • Video conferencing can be room-based (specific locations) or desktop-based (any computer with browser).
  • Desktop video conferencing uses a browser so it can also be called web conferencing. Adobe Connect is an example.
  • webinar is a seminar delivered via the web with limited audience interaction. Adobe Connect can be used for this purpose.
  • An online meeting is usually a handful of people with a great deal of interaction. Adobe Connect is primarily used for this purpose.

  • According to Wikipedia, "Web conferencing refers to a service that allows conferencing events to be shared with remote locations. Applications for web conferencing include meetings, training events, lectures, or short presentations from any computer. A participant can be either an individual person or a group."

    For the past few years, we've been using Adobe Connect for web conferencing. You know you are using the WWW (World Wide Web) if you are using a browser. Room-based video conferencing does not use the web but it does use the Internet. So it is not web conferencing. It uses specialized equipment in a specific location.

    DANR Plum Room video conferencing setup

    webinar is short for web-based seminar, a presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that is transmitted over the Web. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction. Webcast and webinar are synonyms. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question & answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. There are usually dozens to hundreds of people participating in a webinar. They are conducted through the experience by a moderator who sets the event rules, fields the questions, and introduces the presenters. Often, the audience has paid to participate in the online seminar.

    Adobe Connect is desktop videoconferencing using desktop software and the web.
    If you are not having a web-based seminar, you are probably having an online meeting, another form of web-conferencing, where you expect a great deal of interaction in the form of conversation, discussion, debate, etc. Most of our Adobe Connect use is in online meetings with 2-12 people. I don't know anyone who would pay to attend a meeting. We use Adobe Connect Pro for most of our online meetings. In my world of event production, online meetings are DIY events. With a little training and practice anyone can host an online meeting. In fact, we've provided that capability to everyone in ANR.  

    On the other hand, some webinars can become complicated when presenters are in separate locations with various levels of Internet connectivity, combined with a live in-person audience, and possibly another audience participating via telephone conferencing connections. Multiple locations, mixed audio technologies and the vagaries of Internet traffic have been the downfall of some recent DIY webinar events in ANR. It takes much more than the equipment and software to hold a successful webinar. It's the skill of experienced production professionals that really makes the difference. To increase your chances for success, make sure you contact me to help you think through the technical side of your next webinar. I'll help you prepare for online meetings, too, but at least now we are talking about the same thing.
    Some of the equipment used in a recent ANR webinar.


    Posted on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 9:24 AM
    • Author: Michael L. Poe
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