by Thomas MacEntee | Jun 30, 2011
Often what seems "all the rage" and "so easy for others" can be confusing and new-fangled for others. Here's an insider's guide to genealogy webinars including how they work, how to find them, tips and tricks and much more.
Think of a genealogy webinar as a live television broadcast about your favorite topic - genealogy! The presenter is "broadcasting" from one location to hundreds or even thousands of different locations, including yours.
How to you tune in? You go to the webinar listings on the Internet, select one and then "register" for the webinar. Enter your email address, your name and a few other details. Some webinars are free but some require a registration fee via credit card or other payment methods.
Next, you set a reminder for yourself and when the "broadcast" is about to begin, you "tune in" by going to your computer, logging into the webinar site, turning on your computer speakers and then learn! You will be able to view a presentation on your computer screen and listen to live audio as well.
Usually a host or moderator will welcome the attendees and then introduce the speaker. The speaker will present slides with images and text to convey the concepts. For some webinars you can even interact with the instructor and other attendees using a headset and microphone or by typing a question or message into a field.
That's all there is to it - your very own genealogy television broadcast delivered right to your home or office or even a genealogy society meeting!
You may have heard your friends or members from your genealogy society mention a great webinar they attended online. You also might hear others mention webinars on Facebook or perhaps on blog posts. The concept sounds great, right? You get to learn about a genealogy topic at your computer at home or in the office on your schedule - and some are even free! So how do you find them?
One of the best places to find genealogy-related webinars is GeneaWebinars (http://www.geneawebinars.com). This site serves as a free community resource listing all types of webinars including those presented by genealogy vendors, genealogy societies as well as individuals. Click the Calendar tab to view the upcoming webinars, click on a listing and you'll find more information including how to register for the webinar.
There are many factors to consider when selecting a genealogy webinar:
Keep in mind that just because you've found the right webinar for you, there still might be one big barrier to your successfully enjoying the webinar: technology.
Check the webinar description or the registration page for the minimum technical requirements needed to successfully run the webinar. Most platforms now require a DSL, cable or broadband Internet connection - dial up will not suffice. Also, if you are still running Windows 95 or don't have enough computer memory you won't be able to connect or you won't be able to see or hear the presentation. For Mac users, make sure that the platform used for the webinar is Mac-compatible.
Another recommendation: don't rely on your computer speakers for sound. Invest in a pair of computer speakers (about $10) or a good headset with microphone (about $15) for your computer. You will find that doing so greatly improves the webinar experience.
Once you've selected which webinar you want to attend, and you've registered for the webinar, here are some tips and tricks on getting the most out of a genealogy webinar:
As someone who presents and produces webinars in the genealogy community, very often a participant will ask this question: "Can I play the recording or the CD of the webinar at my next genealogy society meeting? Can I reproduce the handouts?"
The answer really depends upon the person, company or organization producing the webinar. Realize that if the webinar is sold on a CD or DVD or it is behind a members-only pay wall, you must treat the webinar recording like any other piece of intellectual property. Ask for permission and let the webinar provider know under what circumstances you intend to present the content.
My personal view is this: I encourage genealogy societies to play my webinars at meetings, especially for smaller societies that perhaps cannot afford a guest speaker. I also allow my handouts to be distributed as long as my copyright statement remains intact on the document. I have found that by doing so, I get more attendees at my future webinars and I've even seen an increase in actual CD sales from those folks who've watched the webinar in a genealogy society meeting.
Webinars are becoming more popular as a means of delivering quality educational content in the genealogy community. This method has also allowed those with limited budgets and those with physical impairments who can't travel to participate in "virtual" sessions on family history. The subjects covered are numerous and you owe it to yourself to experience online genealogy education using the webinar format.
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