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Australian Wool Innovation Limited
Emily King
Manager, Woolgrower Education & Capacity Building
ARTICLES >> Working on your Business

Webinars – Bringing the Information to You

Posted by Bestprac on Apr 09 2012

by Liz Guerin

Keeping up to date with the latest information or innovations has always been a responsibility of producers. However in pastoral areas, this becomes an additional challenge for producers when the tyranny of distance is considered.

A half day workshop or seminar could easily blow out into a three day extravaganza away from the day to day business of running the property when travel times are factored in.

From the Comfort of your Home: Webinars can deliver the most up to date information to you, with minimal time away from your property.

However, with rapid development of various technology, web conferencing or ‘webinars’ are providing a welcome solution to producers in pastoral areas.

A Webinar is essentially a conference using the internet. Visual content of a presentation is shown using the internet, via webcam or PowerPoint®, while the audio component is provided via a concurrent teleconference. This allows people to participate from their home or office anywhere in the world, interact with a live online presenter, ask questions, and provide feedback all in real time.

Long time webinar user, Tony Hamilton, of the Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation, Queensland said that due to the scattered nature of producers, the Leading Sheep project was initially ‘forced’ to take up webinar technology, but it has truly worked in the project’s favour – and producers love it.

“Getting 12 or 15 people together for the day was getting harder and harder because they are so far apart and people are so busy. It is convenient for producers because they don’t have to drive into town and it doesn’t cost them a lot” Mr Hamilton said. “From a project perspective, working with a small extension team and a small budget, it was more economic for us to run a webinar than it was to run a more traditional face-to-face session.”

Mr Hamilton partially attributes the successful use of webinars in the Leading Sheep Queensland to the project being refunded for two additional funding cycles.

“AWI thought what we were doing with webinars was really great” Mr Hamilton said, “And as one of the project objectives is to increase the adoption of new technologies and practices by the Queensland wool industry, we are hitting that mark too.”

One of the reasons that producers participating in Leading Sheep Queensland webinars are so pleased with the technology is that they can kept in touch with key presenters on cutting edge information such as wool marketing, ASBVs or wild dog management with very little inconvenience to themselves in terms of time and travel.

“In the summer months in particular, we run webinars after the ABC Country Hour, that way producers can come inside around midday during the heat, they can get lunch and sit in the air conditioned office and get some information over the webinar, and have a break. By the time they have finished on the webinar, it has cooled down a bit and they can go back out again.” Mr Hamilton said.

Sheep producer, Phil Bell has a pastoral property situated 8 hours west of Brisbane, and 2.5 hours from Roma, and says that webinars are, “the greatest thing since sliced bread and a bit more!”

“Because of the vast distances we have to cover to attend a field day, a technical briefing day, or a product launch, webinars are an ideal way to get technical information, updates and speak with industry people on technical issues” Mr Bell said. “For a face-to-face meeting, I could be leaving the property at 3 in the morning to arrive in time for an 8.30am start. At the end of a full day and concentrating, asking questions and taking notes, I do not want to have to jump in a car and dodge kangaroos just to get home. Webinars are so convenient and cost effective. I can come in at lunch time, eat my lunch while tuned in, participate and ask questions – it’s great.”

Mr Bell says that he does not feel as though he is missing out on any benefits achieved by not physically being there and that ‘networking’ is also achievable in a webinar scenario.

“In a webinar format, we are still able to hear the information presented and then ask questions specific to our own region or situation” Mr Bell said. “Factor in the benefits of convenience and time and savings in terms of travel and accommodation, and webinars are a clear winner!”

The use of webinars has also enabled the Leading Sheep program to respond quickly to issue based topics. Recently following three significant floods in the last 22 months, worms caught many pastoralists by surprise.

“Following 10 weeks of rampant wet weather we were seeing huge worm burdens in sheep flocks and with very little previous experience with worm issues we needed help in a hurry” Mr Bell said. “We had a webinar, which brought people up to speed on the issue quickly and gave producers tools to take action and then we ran follow up events.”

The additional benefit of the quick response to the issue was that pastoralists could see that other producers were in the same position and share information and experiences.

“At a time where your program is interrupted by massive weather events anyway, you are not consuming a whole day travelling and from the comfort of your own home are provided with information and the feeling of not being so ‘isolated’” Mr Bell said.

For people who might be fearful of technology or who have not tried the webinar experience, Mr Bell said it is ‘a piece of cake’ and no more difficult than logging on to internet banking.

“If you can access the internet, and you have a phone, you can participate in a webinar” he said. “For first-time users, it is as simple as being notified of a webinar event by email – and clicking on the attached link to register. On the day of the webinar, start signing in 10 or 15 minutes prior to the start time and step through the process.”

Mr Bell said that there are simply not enough hours in the day or days in the week to attend everything but with the information being brought to you, webinars are just so convenient.

“If you haven’t already given webinars a go, you should! They are cost effective, convenient and stimulate your mind...what’s not to like?”

Last changed: Apr 10 2012



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