|Despite the communications power of the Internet, nothing|
beats good old human interaction when it comes to learning
a new skill.
You can always read a book, listen to a tape, or watch a
video to learn how to do something, but, in the end,
learning from a live teacher who can answer your questions
on the spot works best.
Until recently, the Internet resembled a large "book" of
electronic text and pictures where any extended "human"
interactivity could only take place offline by tele-
conference or in-person meetings.
Now, however, the appearance of cheap "web casting" creates
an inexpensive opportunity for mass interactive
communication between people spread all over the world.
"Web casting" (broadcasting through the web) enables a
presenter to transmit a live presentation over the Internet
to as many as 10,000 participants.
For most online events, participants only need an Internet
connection through a standard phone line and audio
In the post-9/11 era, people simply don't like to travel as
frequently. The meal and hotel costs associated with
attending seminars or other adult education events make it
even harder to attract a full audience.
However, with web casting, you can pull together a large
group of people from around the world at a specific time on
a given day, teach them something, and then let them all
get back to their lives without the traditional
interruptions and expenses of travel.
Web casting enables you to literally present just about any
type of information or educational material you want.
You can do everything from a simple "radio" type
presentation where people passively listen, to a multimedia
presentation complete with Power Point slides and live
tours of actual websites.
At this point, imagination seems to represent the only
limitation as far as what you can do to teach people
through the Internet using this technology.
Currently, large corporations and independent speakers and
entrepreneurs seem to represent the majority of web casting
I believe this comes from the fact that people simply don't
know about it yet and don't understand how to use it.
Once that changes, web casting will go a long way towards
replacing tele-conferencing as the preferred means of long-
In the future, as costs decrease even further, you will
find people using web casting for everything from online
family reunions and sales presentations, to home-based
cooking shows and pay-per-view seminars. As the technology
improves, the potential uses will skyrocket.
As with any new technology, a few drawbacks exist.
Though web casting works with modem speeds as low as 28K,
no one standard has emerged for broadcasting content.
Some services require Real Player, while others require
Microsoft's media player, and, as usual, Mac users often
get left out in the cold without any options.
Right now, search engine giant Google.com rates the best
source of information on how to offer your own web cast.
Simply log on to Google, search for "webcast," and
investigate the ever-growing number of available resources.
About the Author
Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the co-
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