Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Will on-line webinar* training ever replace face-to-face seminars?







The short answer has to be a firm “no”. When I started running webinars* over three years ago now, it was never my intention to usurp the important role played by training and information sessions in a classroom, seminar room or conference setting. Nothing can replace the immediate interaction with the speaker, the lunchtime chats with colleagues, or that exchange of views (and business cards) over a coffee at break-time.

But there was a definite and crying need for an extra arrow to add to the quiver of good continuing professional development (CPD) offered by professional institutes, universities, and commercial enterprises.

Translators are a mixed lot. Many of us work from home because we love the independent life-style that free-lancing provides. Some live a long way from any city centre; many care for children and/or elderly relatives. Family commitments and too much work often make it difficult to get away from the office.

Webinars are a quick and easy way of keeping totally up to the minute on every aspect of a translator’s life without leaving home or office. The only equipment needed is a reasonable PC or Mac and a good broadband connection. Many events, such as those provided by CAT tool vendors, are free. Professional organisations such as ITI and ATA have been putting on webinars (through eCPD) at reasonable cost for a couple of years now, and since 2010 eCPD Ltd (my company, I declare an interest here) has run dozens of webinars for translators and interpreters. We have covered subjects from Terminology Management to PDF files, from Translation Techniques to Chemistry for Translators. For a full list of webinars coming up later this year see this link, and most of our past webinars are now available on demand. Some eCPD webinars are free. For the sake of fairness, I mention also that ProZ offers a programme of training webinars too.

Seats at a webinar are very reasonably priced, usually at £20 (about $31 or €25), and anyone worried about not being able to make the live session can be assured that a recording will be made available afterwards for viewing as often as desired@ at no extra charge.

Once they have got to grips with the fact that they cannot actually see their audience, our speakers have reported that they have greatly enjoyed the experience of talking to attendees who may be logging in from Peru, Australia, Russia, or Taiwan. They find it exciting and exhilarating. Webinars also make it possible to draw on the expertise of experts based in many different parts of the world, the USA, Australia, France and Spain, for example.

Attendees appreciate the fact that we try to keep the cost of webinar places as low as possible. At eCPD Webinars we are translators ourselves and know that the translators budgets for CPD are often tight. My colleagues and I are aware of what translators and interpreters are asking for and try to provide training and information on topics that translators want.

Some of the most popular webinars have been the “Specialising in … “ series. These include sessions on financial translation, legal translation, medical translation, sub-titling and many others. We are currently planning a session on “specialising in technical translation” for the new year.

This autumn sees a new venture – a series of language-specific translation workshops (German, French and Spanish in both directions). If these prove popular (and seats are strictly limited to ensure that we can keep to the workshop format), we will try some other language combinations.

I make no apology for promoting eCPD Webinars in this blog. I strongly believe that attending webinars – from whichever provider you choose - forms an important part of a translator’s portfolio of reasonably priced continuing professional development (continuing education) – especially when travelling to on-site training is difficult. After all, that’s why I started eCPD Webinars in the first place!


And remember: "It's what we learn after we know it all that really counts." (Quips and Quotes by E.C. McKenzie ).

Webinar: a seminar presentation or workshop made available via the Internet.
·      @ For a minimum of 90 days