Thursday, September 24, 2009

First Webinar Status

This morning I rose at 5.45 am in order to have the experience of going on a webinar. A webinar is a web-based seminar, as the link says, and "a key feature of a webinar is its interactive elements - the ability to give, receive and discuss information. Contrast with Webcast, in which the data transmission is one way and does not allow interaction between the presenter and the audience."

So there you have it. This was free webinar, which was just as well in view of what happened. And it was on a subject which I wasn't anxious to know more about; I was happy to listen to the seminar, but wouldn't have been cast down if I'd missed it. Which was just as well.

I'd booked the webinar about a week ago, and worked out from their little dinky linky thing that if it was 3 pm on Wednesday at the place where the webinar was coming from, it was 6 am on Thursday here in New Zealand. It was very kind of them to tell me so.

I gave myself a bit of time to sit down and get set up and discovered the first issue. I had to download a little programme in order to participate. Okay, not such a hassle.

I then realised, of course, that webinars require you to use a phone line, and so I rang the number (in the States) and was told that my access code was invalid, in spite of it being the one they'd sent me. Nothing would persuade the machine voice otherwise.

And then I realised that even if I'd got on the phone, it was going to cost me the price of an international toll call - for the hour I was on there. A change of plan was required (by this time the webinar had well started). I went and got the Skype earphones, and then realised (it was one of those mornings) that the plugs for these earphones are in the back of the computer - not the most accessible of places.

My wife - listening to my pacing back and forth from bed - got up and told me the sensible thing would be to use the laptop, which has a plug in the side. Went and got the laptop from the other room, carefully leaving the earphones behind as I did so.

Got Skype set up, found the earphones after some bewilderment as to how they could have wandered off on their own, and then found that we couldn't ring Skype to Skype, we had to ring a telephone number.

This required topping up the Skype account - in Euros. (Don't ask me why NZ has to use Euros.) Topped up the Skype account, and then discovered that I couldn't just copy and paste the phone number into the Skype box because it was one of those on-screen key pads. Had to go and check the number again. Type it in. Finally hear the sound of the seminar coming to an end and the question time beginning.

Had the joy of listening to questions about a topic I hadn't heard.

Nevertheless, I achieved first webinar status. At the end, when it was all over (it went from 6 to 7 our time) the person hosting the webinar forgot to turn off the connection at their end, and I had the joy of listening to her discussing with one of her colleagues how the thing had gone, how many people had joined in (180) and how few had 'put up their hands' to ask a question. They may be connected still, but I had to go to work.

Photo of a lady in red listening into a webinar by Pete Gray.

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