Whether using Wimba, Opal, Windows Live Meeting or just Yahoo messenger, it is now easy to hold a meeting over the web. Technology vendors have used this technology to reach out to potential customers for a couple of years. The opportunities to take part in a webinar seem to have increased this school year. Besides reducing costs by eliminating transportation, I enjoy the scheduling flexibility they offer. When I learn of a webinar of interest, I can register and put it on my calendar. This fall, I’ve scheduled several of these including 21st Century Skills, Ebsco Host Training, Tech Challenge and a SLJ session on teen literature.
Curious about some of the archived meetings listed on the 23 Things Kansas site, I checked out a few. The first one I tried was the Technology Essentials 2010 meeting. This would have been a very interesting meeting when it was released. I also looked at the Photo and Video Sharing webinar on the Opal archive. Unfortunately, this webinar suffered from some technical difficulties that affected the audio. When I tried to open the webinar in Firefox, I got a message that it would not function correctly in an older version of Internet Explorer. This webinar opened without error in Internet Explorer. Like the Ebsco training on Wimba, this Opal webinar had a live chat ability. Having live chat enables more interaction between the participants and the presenters.
This year, KSDE has started using online meetings to help districts save on transportation costs. Since I’ve had the pleasure (not) of doing the course codes for my district, I have participated in several of these live meetings. The first was a training session for the course code management system. This session used a conference call to allow participant feedback. Other live meeting sessions that I viewed did not have chat or phone capabilities eliminating the ability to interact.
If one wishes to have an interactive meeting with little or no cost, there are several choices. Any computer armed with a webcam and microphone can be used to set up a video connection with Yahoo Messanger, Windows Live or Skype. Not only is this a way to meet professionally, but it is an easy way for family members to connect.
In most cases, I think webinars are a wonderful way to hold a meeting since they need less of my time and allow me to multitask. However, technical difficulties can quickly reduce the benefits of the webinar. Webinars also reduce the ability to interact with others at the meeting. For this reason, I would hope that actually attending meetings and interacting with others professionally will continue into the future.