Susan Kistler on Tools for Producing Webinars

My name is Susan Kistler and I am the AEA Executive Director and contributor of each Saturday’s aea365 post. Since January of 2010, AEA has offered a members-only free series of Coffee Break Webinars. Each is recorded, and we now have over 50 in the archive. I have received a number of inquiries from evaluators noting that they need to produce webinars for their work, be it for a web-based meetings, evaluation capacity building training, or to collaborate with colleagues around the world.

Today, I am sharing the list of tools we use to produce, record, and distribute AEA’s webinars. I need first to share a few caveats: (a) AEA does not have staff available to provide tech support for any product, (b) the opinions below are my own and not that of AEA, (c) as an association, AEA does not endorse any product, and (d) it is your responsibility to determine whether any item is appropriate for your own work.

Rad Resource – Registration, Delivery, Recording, and Follow-up Surveying – GoToWebinar from Citrix: GoToWebinar allows people to register for a coffee break webinar (but does not process payments), provides a platform for delivering the webinar itself, records the webinar, and administers a short survey to attendees post-event. It is a relatively no-frills platform that is simple to use and our plan accommodates up to 1000 attendees. Normally $4800/year, AEA receives a steeply discounted rate through a donation program at TechSoup. A key feature of GoToWebinar allows attendees to listen through VOIP for free, saving long-distance costs, a major consideration for supporting international attendees. On the downside, we have regular recording challenges that result in a corrupted recording file (see editing), and occasionally sound quality can be variable, a ‘feature’ of VOIP that applies to all VOIP-enabled systems.

Rad Resource – Camtasia Studio: Camtasia rescues us when there has been an encryption error by re-recording from the corrupted file, and we use it for minor editing as well. We use Camtasia, at $299, for other specialized recording as well.

Rad Resource – Corel VideoStudio Pro: A second video editor, used in particular for tweaking sound variability on some recordings, CVS is $49.

Rad Resource – Vimeo: Once a recording is edited and the sound normalized if needed, we upload to Vimeo, for video hosting. Vimeo is much less expensive, and more feature-rich as a video host than our regular web hosting service. We pay $59/year for an upgraded plus account so that videos are advertisement-free and played only on the website.

Rad Resource – HigherLogic: Finally, once the video has been uploaded and formatted for Vimeo, with AEA’s preferred settings and color scheme, we copy the embed code and embed it as an entry in AEA’s members-only eLibrary. Like AEA’s public eLibrary, Thought Leaders Forum, TIG microsites, and other community features, the webinars archive is part of the Higher Logic community platform. In this way, the recorded webinar appears as an integrated part of AEA’s web site assets, yet the video throughput does not slow down the rest of the site and takes advantage of Vimeo’s video services. Higher Logic is built specifically for associations, but embed codes work on many other platforms.

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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