Weighing up Webinars

Last week was a busy week and I didn’t get a chance to post about my webinar for the Regional Support Centre South West.

I gave a number of webinars earlier this year for the Regional Support Centre Eastern using Elluminate and shared my experiences (Squirmy Creatures: My first Online Presentation). The title sort of gives the game away but online presenting was quite a new, nerve-wracking experience for me. The good news is that the webinar I gave last week went really well and I felt a lot more relaxed. It definitely gets easier to present in this way the more you do it.

GotoWebinarThe biggest difference between this seminar and my previous ones was that this time I used GotoWebinar rather than Elluminate. The two software products are pretty similar, the main difference being that Elluminate requires you to upload your slides for participants to see while GotoWebinar allows participants to see your desktop.

GotoMeetingHaving now used the two products I’d have to say that I prefer uploading my slides because it means that my desktop (and all its mess) remains my own and if I need to do a quick look up on the Web to check something out then I can without anyone realising. It also means that you can use your first slide as a basis for discussion while waiting for the webinar to begin (I previously had a list of Web 2.0 tools and got people to tick them if they’d used them before.) The other main differences I noticed were that there was no participants list and no general chat box (though messages could be sent to the administrator). (Note that some of the GotoWebinar features were locked for our webinar so there may be other ways of working). I’ve just found a good critique by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner entitled Feeling lonely in a webinar in which she, normally an Elluminate or Adobe Connect user, talks about her GotoWebinar experience without chat and a participants list: “It was a rather lonely affair.”

Last week I was too busy concentrating on presenting to feel lonely. However one thing I did really enjoy at the end of the session was when Mel, the organiser, allowed people to ask me questions using their microphones rather than through the chat. This allowed us to have quite a lively discussion about the appropriate etiquette for Creative Commons use. It was also great to hear the participants – proof that they really do exist!

If you are interested in using webinar software then there is a good discussion of the main issues/features on the elearning technology blog.

The actual webinar was on creative Commons and for those interested the presentation is available from Slideshare.

A video of the webinar is also available from the RSC-SW site.

While I’m on the subject of webinars I came across Graham Attwell’s Ten tips for online moderators on the Pontydysgu blog. All the organisers and moderators I’ve worked with so far have been totally professional but these tips are great starter for anyone who hasn’t moderated before.

I’d definitely be keen to try other webinar software (like Webex and Livemeeting) in the future to get a better idea of what is available. So if anyone is after a presenter on something Web 2.0 related then just drop me a line.