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Communication characterizes the exchange of information data between two persons, entities of messaging devices. It is an integral part of the day-to-day lives. With the advancement of technology, communication has become increasingly simplified, efficient and effective. It can be done via different ICT devices such as the computers, IPhones, IPads and tablets among others. Social informatics aims at investigating the effects of such ICT communication tools to cultural or institutional settings. This essay is a social informatics study that is aimed at finding out how free webinar platforms can ease and facilitate communication to a group of online conference participants.
How do free webinar platforms facilitate the efficiency of communication, to a group of participants, via online conferencing?
On Tuesday 14 April 2015, I took part in the Danish-Chinese Business Forum as a junior delegate for my nation. The Forum is an independent, non-profit-generating executive network, which aims to strengthen the business ties between China and Denmark. Since I could not attend the forum in person, I followed the proceedings of the event via an online free webinar platform. Webinars are free online ICT platforms that can be used by institutions or corporations to host online conferencing sessions with a target group. The only essentials I was obligated to have to participate in the conference was a computer with a webcam and good internet connection.
In the recent years, webinars have become convenient tools for holding conferences, corporate or educational. The platforms are easy to use and can be accessed for free on the internet. Social informatics is the field of study that analyzes the effects of communication and information tools in both institutional and cultural contexts. I decided to use this topic since it has a close relation to social informatics and ICT. It portrays how this communication and information tool affects an institutional context. Institutional context, in this case, being the forum’s global participants who followed the proceedings using the free webinar platforms.
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The following are the subordinate questions that will be used in the creating this social informatics study.
- Which people can use the free webinar platforms for communication?
- What is the process of using the free webinar platform?
- Which forms of communication are available on the free webinar platforms?
- Which widgets can be used on the free webinar platforms?
- How can you manage the participants contact list? How is managing the contact list beneficial?
Data Collection Methods
In this study, I will use three forms of data collection methods. The methods are focus groups, questionnaire surveys, and historical data collection and analysis. The three are the most efficient of all data collecting methods since they are thorough and can give a detailed and factual report on the subject matter.
In this research, focus groups will be effective in obtaining detailed information on individual and group feelings about webinar platforms. This is because I will bring together twenty persons in groups of five and ask them about free webinars. All the participants will have a prior experience in using webinar platforms in the past. Focus group method will be an essential technique for attaining the interviewees’ perception and opinions of the webinar platforms. It will also save time and money to carry out the study as compared to using individual interviews. The method can be used on small webinars of ten to twenty-five participants to very large webinars of more than one hundred and fifty participants. Focus groups will give me the chance to seek clarifications on various responses attained during the study.
Historical Data Collection and Analysis Methods
In this method, I will identify five forum platforms, which discuss five different forms of free webinar platforms. The forums discussed will be dated five years back and must have a large number of participants. By using this method, I will read and summarize the reviews of all the participants on the free webinar forums. I will base my report on the appropriateness of the free webinar platforms on the positive responses collected on the forum platforms. This method will give a more precise report on the appropriateness of free webinar platforms since statistical findings of all the forum reports will be analyzed.
This method will entail filling out research questions on online free webinars on a printed document. All the participants of the research will possess past experience in the use webinar platforms. This will be a practical data collection method excellent for collecting substantial information about free webinars from a large number of persons. In this method, I will compare the validity and reliability of data by analyzing the responses attained from each participant. In this method, the results of the questionnaire will also be quantified by using a software package. I will ask interviewees’ questions like, “what did you like about a webinar platform?” “Were you able to communicate with the speaker during the session?”
Conferring to the outcomes of the study carried out, webinar platforms eases the communication between a speaker and a team of participants during an online conferencing session. This is done using interactive webinars that permit a speaker and participants to have a direct online conversation. The webinars are easy to use since they do not require a person to install any software to operate. Users are just required to visit a free webinar offering website, register for an account and later using the login details to access a webinar session. Upon logging into the platform, a conference participants can access a virtual room where a live stream of an ongoing conference is relayed. Through the platform, users can access various communication data sharing functions like whiteboards, sharing screen and document support.
From the research, numerous persons and groupings can use the free online platforms. The platforms can be used for education purposes where a teacher can teach students via video conferencing. It can also be used by the corporate sector where a manager can address his/her staff members on various issues. Some of the respondents to the questionnaire pointed out that they used the free webinar platforms for religious purposes. The focus groups reports pointed out that there are numerous features availed on the online webinar platforms. Some of the features include session recording application, VoIP, social media integration, screen sharing, live chat and text chat.
In the ICT sector, social media plays an important part in communication. In the study, past historical data indicated that the online webinar platforms supported different social media widgets. The common widgets in all the platforms included Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and G-talk. Such widgets facilitated the sharing of information regarding different webinar sessions in social media platforms. The participants of the session also pointed out that it was possible to manage the contact list of all the attendees of a webinar session. Such is done using the platform’s automation systems that track the attendees’ names and contact information.
Such information is used to invite all the participants to future web conferencing events. The contacts aid the webinar sessions’ speakers to contact and connect with all the participants in the social media networks. The study participants also stated that the contact list helps the speakers to attain the webinars analysis reports. The reports are used by the speakers to rank the highly potential participants in a webinar session and also to understand the participants better. The results of the study revealed that webinars are efficient communication tools in the ICT sector.