From Web to Work: Online Seminars Are the Route to Top-Notch, Cost-Effective Education

Article excerpt

The economy is taking a bite out of education dollars: between climate change and budgets affecting travel options, and the necessity to maintain technological relevance in a fast-moving marketplace, use of web seminars as an educational tool has grown logarithmically in the past several years. Online learning is becoming the next big thing, prompting popular ordine tech sites such as Technorati.com to offer webinars on how to provide webinars.

Like many budget-minded nonprofits, the American Society on Aging (ASA) has moved toward conducting web seminars for its constituency and the field of aging. This past year was seminal for its web seminar program: in October, ASA switched over to a new web seminar delivery platform, GoToWebinar, to increase program attendance capacity. The new platform allows audio through attendees' computer speakers or headsets (VOIP), and eliminates having to call a toll number for audio (this option is still available). Attendees can also receive e-mail reminders of upcoming events through pre-registration.

With event numbers, satisfaction rates and attendance rapidly growing, the program expanded to include sponsored web seminar events and series open to the public (many featuring complimentary Continuing Education Units, or CEUs). Those who miss live events can take advantage of the recordings by accessing ASA's website, www. asaging. org/webseminars.

TAKING THE CREDIT

ASA also now offers CEUs for a nominal fee to those who attend the live web seminars or view a previously recorded seminar. And thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Family Caregiver Support Series by Home Instead Senior Care, free CEUs are available for attendees of that series. CEUs definitely enhance attendance: the first of six events in the Family Caregiver Support Series drew more than 450 participants. "[The session was] very educational, and I plan on it sharing with my classes I teach in caregiving," said one attendee involved in the caregiving industry who took the "Connecting Older Adults and Caregivers" web seminar.

ASA is focusing on improving its online education delivery methods because me web seminars align with ASA's mission to enhance the knowledge and skills of its members. In an era when nonprofits have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn, cost-effectiveness and ease of access have caused online learning to jump in popularity. …