Magazine article Information Today

Webinar Overload

Magazine article Information Today

Webinar Overload

Article excerpt


What's one word you hate? Why?


[-]laststandman 8 points 2 months ago Webinar, because I hate webinars and that stupid word they coined to describe them.

[-]LadyMegatron 2 points 2 months ago WINEBAR!

( whats_one_word_you_hate_why/cfcqr7s)

In this era of doing more with less--which has gone on ad nauseam, IMHO--the organization where I work has started offering its training via live webinars. Basically, these are no-frills continuing education courses for behavioral health providers, with straightforward what-you-see-is-what-you-get titles and agendas. By and large, these work pretty well. For one thing, the online presentations are well-staffed, with a presenter or two, a technology person, someone to manage the online chat, questions, etc. Registration is capped at a reasonable number of participants so there can be interaction.

Now, I'll admit right up front that I've never been a real fan of webinars. Most of the ones I've experienced have been in the format of "you look at PowerPoint slides while I/we drone on." If there is no ceiling on registration, so many people sign up that there is little or no opportunity to interact with the speakers or ask questions. On the upside, you can often just sit there at your desk doing other things, passively absorbing the audio, and glancing over at the computer screen every once in a while to eyeball a few slides. Until, you know, there are audio problems and you then have to call in on an actual telephone to hear what's going on. Then again, you can just download the thing after the fact and play it at your leisure.

The library profession, alas, has engaged in a protracted love affair with the webinar. A colleague who works in a large academic library told me recently that not a day goes by that she doesn't receive at least three emails touting upcoming webinars. "I suppose I could sit on the computer all day and watch these things," she said, "but who would do my job?"

Useful Webinars

Not every webinar is an utter waste of time. For example, I've acquired actual useful information from the U.S. Government Printing Office's (GPO) ongoing series of educational webinars. I highly recommend them for people who work with (or are interested in) government documents ( training-and-events).

Webinars tend to be most useful when they are relatively brief and tightly focused on a single, tangible topic. For example, see Collecting Usage Statistics for eGovernment Resources, available at the URL mentioned previously. And when do webinars tend to be least useful?

Not-So-Useful Webinars

Sometimes, you can just look at the title of the event and surmise that it may not be worth your time or bandwidth. For example, you should tread judiciously when you see a lot of "cutting-edge" technology or business buzzwords. Tread extra-judiciously if this year's "cutting-edge" terminology is the same as last year's "cutting-edge" terminology.

Maybe I'm just getting old and cranky, but I find myself becoming particularly agitated when confronted with eye-rolling examples of the library profession's attempts to appear hip and "with it." You know what I mean: those unfortunate slideshows about tattooed librarians, hipster librarians, sexy/hunky librarians, and librarian fashionistas. (The media usually doesn't help. If I had a dollar for every story I've seen about how "libraries aren't just about books these days," I could retire to a quiet life of knitting, baseball-watching, and sending email rants to politicians. …

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