It was so incredibly convenient! I didn’t have to block out my afternoon, drive across town or even change out of my jeans. Talking from her home at 2 in the morning on the other side of the globe, it felt like Sheila was talking to me personally. Her slides were right there in front of me, I could ask questions as soon as they popped into my head. I could even make a cup of tea without missing anything and check my emails during the less relevant parts.
What was interesting was that Sheila made the comment about being new to webinars and felt a bit strange sending her presentation out into the ether. She also suggested that she has some difficulty with the whole idea of conducting qualitative research on the internet, in particular the lack of face to face contact.
It struck me that the value and benefits of the webinar are very similar to online research communities. Yes there is a loss of the ability to gauge body language and facial expressions and being able to task a group to construct collages.
But there are so many benefits that outweigh those losses. Like me, people are saved of the trouble of travelling to a group venue, putting up with average sandwiches and sitting around with a group of strangers staring at a strangely oversized mirror. So people that would never attend are able to take part.
It’s also a bit like other non-face to face communication channels we use at the office. We share screens when one of us is working out of the office, at home or with our team in NZ; we iChat between offices to ask a quick question or share a passing thought. Ultimately it’s about enhanced creativity, efficiency and productivity and better, smarter outcomes.