A webinar (short for Web-based seminar) is a presentation or meeting that is transmitted over the Internet and accessed only by computer. Webinars are not passive experiences; they allow for synchronous interaction between attendees. Webinars provide an excellent opportunity for our distant students and faculty to receive instructional service and assistance from, and discuss with or ask questions of, librarians based out of SMU's Twin Cities campus.
How does a webinar work? Basically a webinar provides the same learning experience as an in-person instruction session; the only difference is that the librarian is not physically present in the classroom. To begin the webinar, the instructor needs to make sure the audio and visual technology is working (see below). The instructor will then click a link, provided in an email from the librarian, to access the webinar. The students and instructor will then watch, via LCD projector, the librarian work on the computer screen and hear her narrate her actions. Questions can be asked at any time, and interruptions are definitely welcome. This technology works well for library instruction on any subject because TC Library's collection is heavily digital.
Saint Mary's uses the webinar software GoToMeeting. In order to successfully attend a webinar, students will need to see the librarian's presentation and hear the librarian speak. The technologies needed for the visual part of the presentation are a computer and an LCD projector. What happens during a webinar is that the instructor will click a link (provided in an email) and that link temporarily connects the instructor's and librarian's computers through GoToMeeting. Whatever is on the librarian's computer screen can be viewed by the classroom, be this a PowerPoint presentation, database, or website. There are several options for audio technology. Teleconferencing is one option for small classrooms; the librarian can be on speakerphone and everyone can talk back and forth. Another option is to use the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) connection provided by the webinar software. The librarian's voice will be projected through the LCD projector's speakers and you and your students will talk into microphones. If no microphone is available, GoToMeeting has a chat box so questions can be asked via chat.
TCLibrary has prepared "how to" guides to help you with the webinar set up.
Instructors who are interested in scheduling a library instruction session via webinar should request library instruction at least two weeks before the requested class time. Please specify on the instruction request form that you would prefer the session to be conducted via webinar. Also specify the type of audio connection you would prefer. The librarian will work with IT, site coordinators, and you to ensure the technology is in place to conduct the webinar.
For more information, please contact your librarian.