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Basics of Webinar Technology

A webinar is essentially a videoconference streaming over the Internet.
Put in a classroom context, a webinar is a teacher giving a lecture to his students in real time, while the students are at their computers all over the world. Webinar is like a video call, with the exception that you can call hundreds of people at the same time.

The foundation of the Webinar technology is streaming video and audio over the Internet. The technology allows you to send a live video feed (typically, from your webcam and microphone) to a number of people on the web.

To receive your video, the users need to log on to the webinar platform using either the login data you provide, or following a publicly-accessible link. You might protect your feed with a password, send the links to a select number of people, or just share a link with the world and welcome everyone to join you.

Alongside video and audio, you can let others see your computer screen or run a Powerpoint presentation which everyone sees in their webinar window. They can’t download your presentation by default, but some platforms allow that, too.

Your audience has tools of feedback and interaction, too. In a typical webinar, users can send text messages to a shared chatroom (e. g., they can send questions on the topic), request the right to speak (send audio from their computer to all webinar participants), and even show themselves in a video feed, as if they were taking the floor in the presentation. In order for a user to speak or start a video feed, the webinar administrator (typically, a teacher) has to grant that user permission, like a conference moderator welcoming the next conference speaker. However, the most typical way of asking questions on a webinar is through text — it’s the easiest and the most polite way.

Technologically, webinars are nothing new. We’ve had video streaming and audio streaming and screen sharing for decades now. What’s new is the combination of these technological traits into an easy-to-use product that you can use in your classroom today.