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What are Webinars?

By R. Kayne
Updated May 16, 2024
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Webinars are Web-based seminars, also known as online workshops. Many companies have begun to offer webinars as an alternative to traditional seminars.

Webinars have many advantages that range from flexibility to cost-effectiveness. People do not have to travel to webinars, but can participate from the comfort of their own homes. This serves the company budget, saving travel expenses while continuing to expand training in a highly competitive market. Registrants can also participate during hours that are convenient for them. Materials such handouts are downloadable and can be printed or kept as reference files.

A common model for webinars might be to offer a five week course during which a different "module" or lecture is uploaded to the site each Monday, for example. The registrants have a week to absorb the information, and unlike a Webcast, a webinar invites participation.

Webinars substitute face-to-face conversation with discussion boards to exchange information and knowledge. At first glance it might seem less effective than meeting in person, but in many ways discussion groups are a more effective means of communication. Discussions remain online to review at any time, and continue to propagate in ways real-life conversations cannot. Speakers commonly participate in discussion groups as well.

When new modules are uploaded to the webinar site, previous modules remain available for review. This is another advantage over real-world seminars, as the material can be revisited in its entirety for the duration of the Webinar. Additionally, links can take participants to dynamic real-world examples, unlike a workshop where the equivalent might be expressed as a Power Point presentation.

Finally, because webinars are digital, the entire course, discussions, and other features are easily archived for review long into the future. Some webinars archive the course online for up to a year, while registrants can save material on their local systems indefinitely (unless otherwise prohibited).

Though live seminars are a valuable tool for businesses, webinars capitalize on the advantages of Internet communication to make training as effective as possible. They can be a cost effective way to give employees the advanced skills they need while saving financial resources. Webinars are run independently and as such have their own structures, rules and conditions.

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