Without a doubt the genealogy world is filling up with webinars. These Internet or 'web' based seminars, from which the term webinar is based, have become a popular and practical means of instruction for beginners and experienced genealogists alike.
The technology is really not that new, at least in 'technology' terms - it's been around for a few years. Initially I was introduced to the technology through my 'day' job. Web based meetings were a means to providing instruction and explanations of new business processes with colleagues and/or clients irrespective of their geographic location. The technology also allowed people to collaborate by meeting on-line to view and work on a document they could all see and discuss at the same time.
Training, for example, could be offered without the costs to participants and their organizations for travel and accommodation to attend 'traditional' in-class "courses." The ability to record these sessions meant that the training could be offered time and again as new staff joined the organization and the 'webinar' content only needed to be changed if the business processes changed. Although viewing the recorded version of the training lacked the interactive component of the 'live' version, that is the ability to ask questions, it was still was an efficient means of training.
The genealogy community, always quick to embrace advances in technology, has picked up on this impressive means to share best practises, tips and techniques. I have enjoyed attending a number of live webinars but because other commitments also impose on my time, I have greatly benefited from viewing recorded sessions. Although I can't raise my hand and ask a question when viewing a recorded webinar, I still benefit from the core instruction. I still learn.
I have two recommendations. First, check the website for your favourite genealogy database software. The software providers have certainly discovered that webinars are a powerful way to help those using their product get the most from the software's features. I use RootsMagic 4 and enjoy learning about the features and shortcuts that I probably would not have found on my own. Maybe it's a 'guy' thing but I tend not to read the instruction manual (hardcopy or on-line) and sometimes wander around the software menus hoping that intuitively I'll just figure it out. I have used and own most of the major genealogy database software available so I don't limit myself to one 'brand' on software webinar but pick and choose the instruction I think best suits my needs.
My second recommendation is that you visit the Utah Genealogical Association site and take advantage of their 'special time limited' offer to view a number of webinar presentations. My favourite so far - "How Mature Are You (Genealogically)?" by Robert Raymond, Deputy CGO of FamilySearch.org. Robert explains a genealogy maturity model that allows you to systematically complete a self-assessment of your present genealogy skill or practise levels in some key areas. The real benefit of this evaluation is to then provide you with the basis to determine your priorities for establishing a self improvement plan. Robert explains the model in easy to understand terms with the added benefit that the presentation syllabus is available through the FamilySearch wiki. The Utah Genealogical Association is making this and other presentations available until August 1, 2011 so don't delay too long in checking it out.
If you are looking for a break from searching through records or you're feeling a little down about not being able to attend every genealogy conference on the continent, relax and learn in the comfort of your home by inviting the experts in through a webinar.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with RootsMagic nor have I received any form of compensation for noting that RootsMagic is my current preferred genealogy database software.