Aug 28 2009

Making webinar software more open

I’ve always found webinar software like WebEx, Elluminate, or GoToMeeting to be constraining and, because they try to be a “total solution” they don’t play well with other uses or software. Because they’re popular they’re used in situations where they’re inappropriate. The Digital Habitats wiki, for example, doesn’t go into enough detail about their uses in community settings.

Yesterday I noticed an interesting webinar format that solves one of the persistent boundary and participation problems that I see with this kind of software. Intronetworks held a webinar on “community management as a job.” I was late to the presentation, so when the GoToMeeting screen first came up, the first thing that caught my eye was that Twitter IDs were used to identify the speakers:

Intronetwork speakers

Like many such webinars, the audio channel was really the main thing. But I realized that a twitter stream with the hashtag “introchat” was the main visual. There were some slides, but visually the audience was asking questions, making comments, inviting others into the session. In the course of an hour there were almost 500 tweets. Huge audience participation relative to what the sages on the stage were offering.

It felt like the beginning of a community of practice of community managers. At least a drop-in jam session of one.

Two years ago I wrote about the Intronetworks software and was kind of critical about the hard boundaries between “inside” and “outside” their application here and here. (That may be because people want those boundaries, however.) Interesting to see them innovate by using webinar software in such an open way.

(Cross-posted from my blog on LearningAlliances.)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Making webinar software more open”

  1. Twitter Comment

    Reflecting on #introchat Intronetwork webinar yesterday: [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  2. John,

    Interesting observation. The back story here is that we are trying to spur conversations on a series of topics related to Social Media – with real answers, from people in the trenches. A conversation is two-way, otherwise it is shouting. The problem for us with GoToMeeting is that there is no chat – so, we started using Twitter (TweetChat) and having it on the screen at the same time – this has served us well and solves the problem of no chat and allows the audience to help each other. It is an elegant example of informal learning at it’s best. People that have login problems are helped by others, rather than me (as organizer).

    On the topic of our platform, I have re-read your posts from earlier (2007) and would encourage you to check us out now. We are on V8 and have made very dramatic changes to the system. We are still running the network for the Masie Conference, and have several open networks you could join to get a sense of how it works.

    If you are a Veteran or know families/friends of vets:
    If you just want to take a spin:

    Would love to have your critical feedback. We are constantly improving our educational outreach through the webinar process and our platform as new ideas surface.


  3. Twitter Comment

    Making webinar software more open
    I’ve always found webinar software like WebEx , Elluminate , or GoT.. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. John Smith says:

    Thanks, Mark,

    I also wondered about the lag between the time I posted something and the time when it appeared. With most chat software it’s so instantaneous that you don’t think about it, but with a complex circuit (from Tweetdeck to Twitter to or whatever and back to GoToMeeting) it seems like there is a lot that can go wrong or take longer than you’d want. Did you notice that? (Couldn’t have been just me.)

    Also, when I’m organizing a community meeting (or a meeting that’s supposed to coax a community into coalescing a bit more) one of the things I do is produce an easy to scan version of a chat transcript. The idea is that scanning the transcript can draw people into the conversation afterward or next time. Still thinking about just what’s most important to include or leave out in such an artifact. Scrolling back through the pages of seems less than ideal. Again, this is an issue for reducing the boundaries around a community event. (The togetherness and separation polarity that we discuss in the book.)

  5. Nancy White says:

    Great tech stewardship observation and Cool work around on no chat. I strongly avoid any web meeting that either has no chat or only allows one to one chat (usually with the “moderator”) as that is antithetical to the types of meeting I plan, facilitate or participate in. That one has to even consider a work around to something as basic as chat still blows me away.

    What I like about this particular option is that it reflects the topic of the conversation.

    What is also interesting is to see SO MANY new CoPs on online community management sprouting up (again.) These flowerings are cool. (And btw, The Online Facilitation community — which is partially about community management, just celebrated 10 years!)

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