The Conference Comes to You: Webcasts, Web Conferences, and Webinars
A webcast is a way of broadcasting over the Internet — analogous to a broadcast television program. The primary purpose of a webcast is to transmit a message to a large number of people. For example, "CDC's Act Against AIDS used a webcast is another example of webcasting. You can participate from your own computer, and often can interact by phone or online through the webcasting program. Webcasts can be captured and made available for later viewing/listening. Because they tend to be high bandwidth video feeds, they are usually viewed streaming on the web, rather than downloaded to the user's computer.Web conferences are used to conduct live meetings or presentations where you can sit at your own computer and can connect to other participants via the Internet. The primary purpose of a web conference is to collaborate with others who are not physically in the same place at the same time. It is analogous to a business/team meeting. Web conferencing tends to be most useful to smaller groups or teams of people.
A webinar, on the other hand, is a specific type of web conference — a web-based seminar. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience. A webinar can be very collaborative and include polling and question and answer sessions. In some cases, the presenter may speak over a standard telephone line, pointing out information being presented on-screen and the audience can respond over their own telephones. Our HIV.gov webinar on Underserved Communities and New Media Use is one example of this type of web conference. The primary purpose of a webinar is to train. It is analogous to a training seminar. Webinars can be posted online for later viewing, but, because they often include phone and desktop sharing/slide presentations, it is harder to capture the entire experience.
So, how can individuals and organizations use webcasts, web conferences, and webinars to respond to HIV? One way is to host meetings with colleagues in the HIV community from across the country and around the world. You can also use webcasts to share HIV information, as we did for our webcast on the state of AIDS in the U.S. are an example of this type of use.
Two of the many vendors that offer services for online meetings are WebExExit Disclaimer and GoTo WebinarExit Disclaimer. Both vendors can record meetings and presentations. Still feeling confused about the distinction between these types of communication? Infinite Conferencing has an article that further clarifies the distinction between webinars, webcasts, and web conferences.
Do you find webcasts, web conferences and webinars a useful way to receive HIV information? What do you see as the trade-offs between this type of virtual meeting, and more traditional in-person meetings and conferences? Leave a comment and tell us about it!