Sept. 29--Even though the technology has been around for years to hold webinars, those video seminars broadcast over the Internet are becoming more popular as people become more accustomed to online training.
Locally, electric motor company Baldor and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, for example, have webinars set for October.
Improved Internet bandwidth, software reliability and travel budget cuts from the Great Recession are contributing factors, says Milan Hall of the Heartland Center for Leadership Development and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Neb.
"They are indeed becoming more popular," Hall said. "The technology that enables them has improved dramatically and the price has gone down. There is broader bandwidth, but the software has also become more sophisticated. And there's also the fact that going through the recession, training budgets took a big whack. Some were just frozen and nobody traveled. The reality is, if people want to continue their training or expertise, they are more likely now to attend a webinar."
Hall and Craig Schroeder of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship will co-host a series of webinars the University of Arkansas will present in October. The series starts Wednesday and is focused on attracting young families to their hometowns.
There are various ways someone can take part in a webinar: Watch or listen to the live broadcast by computer, and interact by calling in by phone; or attend a meeting with several others and view an interactive presentation being screened, much like the distance education programs that are offered by centers of higher learning. Medical centers, including Fort Smith's local hospitals, also use similar technology, with more specialized cameras for close-up examinations and dedicated Internet servers, for doctors to remotely diagnose and treat patients.
"They are a wonderful vehicle," Mark Peterson, professor of Community and Economic Development with the UA System Division of Agriculture, says of the web seminars. "You can pipe in someone from anywhere. It's a really slick tool."
Baldor will broadcast a webinar on energy efficiency at 3 p.m.Oct. 30. The Baldor webinar will feature its Installed Base Evaluation team showing how they use state-of-the-art data collection equipment to conduct a survey of motors and mechanical products. The raw data are then analyzed to produce a comprehensive report for the customer.
To sign up for the Baldor webinar, call Kay Cabaniss at (864) 281-2486, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those wishing to attend the economic development webinar "Strategies to Recruit Alumni and Young Families to Your Community," the cost is $189 if you organize a separate event, or it is free if you attend the broadcasts at the four Arkansas locations: Conway'sBrewer-Hegeman Conference Center at University of Central Arkansas; Little Rock'sUniversity of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service headquarters, 2301 S. University Ave.; Dumas' Delta Technology Education Center; and Jonesboro'sArkansas State University Delta Center for Economic Development.
The first in the series of economic development webinars focuses on analyzing community assets and audiences. The second is "Crafting Your Message," on community branding; and the third, "Building a Winning Game Plan," focuses on connecting with newcomers or those who are returning.
While a dial-up strength 1.5 to 3 megabytes per second would allow for a low-resolution video broadcast, a higher definition image can be achieved with a 5 megabyte per second signal, says Sam Boyster, director of information technology at the UA.
Jerry Smith, director of the Center for Regional and Community Development at ASU, said he was impressed with the seminar produced by the Heartland Center for Leadership Development and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and expects this latest one "will be even better because they have so many more case studies now."
The Heartland webinars draw on considerable research and experience in revitalizing rural communities.
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