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A web-based seminar (webinar) is a conference that is hosted in near real-time over the Internet. Webinars allow groups in remote geographic locations to listen and participate in the same conference regardless of the geographic distance between them. Webinars also have interactive elements such as two-way audio (VoIP) and video that allows the presenters and participants to discuss the information as it is presented.
Some common uses for webinars include meetings, remote training and workshops. Webinars can also be recorded for later viewing or distribution, but this removes the interactive elements for later viewers. In this sense, a recorded webinar becomes a webcast - a presentation that includes one-way audio and video without any interaction between speakers and listeners.
Webinars use Internet technologies, particularly TCP/IP connections. Generally, some software must be downloaded by people who want to join a webinar. Before a webinar, participants are usually provided with a means of interfacing via email, common calendars or other collaboration mechanisms in preparation for the event. Some webinars also provide for anonymous participation, while others identify the current speaker by a user ID or code name. Both methods protect the identity of the audience participant.
Webinars may include extra features, such as:
Vendors that host webinar services may charge by the minute, by a flat monthly fee, or by the number of audience participants. Significant vendors of Web-based seminars include BigBlueButton, Fuze Meeting, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Openmeetings, Skype and WebTrain, among many others.
Web-based seminars may be provided as a hosting service, as web-based software or as an appliance, which requires hardware and may also be called in-house or on-premise Web conferencing.