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June 23, 2008

Defining 'Webinar'

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Senior Editor


Much is heard these days about Webinars, a new way of conducting meeting on the Web. There are many advantages to Webinars, one of which is that typically no software installation or complicated setup is needed.
But what exactly is a Webinar? One definition is to say that a Webinar is essentially the same thing as a Web conference — an online live meeting or presentation. Each participant sits at his or her computer, either at work or at home, and interacts with other participants and/or a moderator using Web-based tools.
While they function in a similar way, Web conferences and Webinars are somewhat different. The former involves a smallish group of people, all of whom typically are participating in the event in an active manner. An example might be a team of geographically distributed employees who gather in a Web conference to work on a project — perhaps collectively editing a document or designing some graphic design elements.
A Webinar involves a much larger group of people, most of whom are passive observers or learners during most of the online event. This is similar to an in-person “seminar,” where an audience learns something from a presenter. As examples, a Webinar might be used as a tool for demonstrating a product to potential customers, or to conduct a training session for employees.
An example of a solution that makes Webinars possible is Packetel’s (News - Alert) Turbo Meeting. This is an online service that allows people to attend or participate in a Webinar without having to install any software on their local computers. The interface is designed to be simple and intuitive for anyone familiar with using the World Wide Web, so there is, for all and intents and purposes, no learning curve.
A variety of different Turbo Meeting subscription plans are available for companies and organizations that have different needs. For example, a very small business that simply needs a Web conferencing tool for its employees to collaborate might subscribe to the 3-way conference plan for $12.90 per month. A very large enterprise that needs to conduct training Webinars for a globally distributed workforce might opt for the $285 per three months plan, which supports multiple hosts and up to 100 attendees.
To learn more about online seminars, please visit the Webinar channel on TMCnet.com, brought to you by Packetel.


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