The Webinar: The New Face-to-Face?
by Leah K. Pockrandt
Technology has created a new era of business education. Today’s
professional can attend a seminar in Texas after lunch and still be home
for dinner in Minnesota without ever leaving the office.
E-learning, the ability to access a training session via the
Internet, is available to anyone with a phone line and a PC. E-learning
provides participants with the opportunity to receive information about
a particular topic in his or her related field. The instructor may be a
business associate, university professor, or other expert.
Some companies also participate in e-training, which allows companies
or organizations to offer training modules to its employees via a
company Intranet or via an independent organization’s Web site. Such
training may allow employees to review company policies or procedures at
their leisure instead of scheduling separate training sessions.
Webinars are the online equivalent of seminars. These instructor-led
training courses are often offered in real-time with participants from
across the country. Webinars are often archived on a system, or
participants receive a copy of the event so that the participants can
access and review the material at his or her convenience.
Companies such as Risk Management Association (RMA), Shel Holtz
Webinars (http://webinar.holtz.com), ASAP Software (http://www.asapsoftware.com/
midsize/geteducated.htm), and Corporate Website Marketing (http://www.corporatewebsitemarketing.com/webinars.html),
along with associations such as The eLearning Guild (http://www.elearningguild.com)
offer training and learning opportunities via the Internet to companies
and individuals. Participants pay a fee, and log onto a Web site at a
given time as well as call a specified phone number. All of the Webinar
participants are then linked together via phone and Web conferencing
systems. Other organizations host their own training opportunities.
United Way of America has utilized Webinars as a way to provide
up-to-date information to United Way professionals while allowing those
individuals the opportunity to save money on travel and other expenses.
In this era of fiscal responsibility, when companies are looking at
whether or not they should retain employees, much less train them,
Webinars and other e-learning opportunities provide a way to increase
the frequency and success of corporate events (Axelson, 2000) while
giving those employees a needed edge (Hickey, 2002). “There is much
market potential for solutions that can bring dispersed groups together
and save participants time and money,” said Barbara Axelson in “Webinars
Cut Face Time; MShow.com Unites Dispersed Groups in Hours.”
Of course, e-learning has its opponents. Since the Web doesn’t have a
way to monitor the good e-learning opportunities from the bad ones,
participants need to be wary. Brooke Broadbent, an e-learning consultant
based in Canada (http://www.e-learninghub.com), contends that hype
damaged e-learning. In fact, even though it’s still a fledgling mode of
education, e-learning sessions at conventions are often poorly attended
because participants know it’s now used as a marketing ploy (Ellet,
2002) as the new fast way to get information and save money. But the
expense of time can be more costly than travel expenses if the quality
of the Webinar is inferior. In his book, ABCs of E-learning, Broadbent
said, “Concentrating on ‘e’ to the detriment of ‘learning’ is a colossal
mistake.” He adds, “The best technology will not render a worn, turgid,
content-centered course into a fresh, dynamic, learner-centered
ASAP Software http://www.asapsoftware.com/midsize/geteducated.htm
Corporate Website Marketing http://www.corporatewebsitemarketing.com/webinars.html
The eLearning Guild http://www.elearningguild.com
The Risk Management Association
Shel Holtz Webinars http://webinar.holtz.com/faq.htm
Books and Articles
Axelson, Barbara. “Webinars a virtual success; Zapdata.com redefines
search for customers.” B to B (July 31, 2000): 85:32-34.
----. “Webinars cut face time; MShow.com unites dispersed groups in
hours.” B to B (Sept. 11, 2000): 85: 40-42.
Broadbent, Brooke. 2002. ABCs of E-learning. Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer.
Ellet, Bill. “Learning about e-learning in a book.” Training Media
Review (March 2002): 10 (2): 10-12.
Heafey, Sharon I. “Rapid pace of e-learning offers advantages. San
Diego Business Journal (Feb. 5, 2001): 22 (6): 18-20.
Hickey, Kathleen. “Online learning: Web gives new ways to learn about
supply chain and logistics.” TrafficWORLD (Aug. 19, 2002) 17.
Pressly, Thomas R. “E-learning: Strategies for delivering knowledge
in the digital age (review).” The Ohio CPA Journal (April-June 2002): 61
Rosenberg, Marc J. 2001. E-Learning: Strategies for delivering
knowledge in the digital age. McGraw-Hill.