Webinar: attending conferences the virtual way

April 2013 Vol 13 (4)

KATHY HOLLOWAY explains how to attend a conference without leaving the house

It is a well understood that continuing education and ongoing engagement with professional colleagues supports high quality, safe and effective clinical practice. Conferences are recognised as providing an excellent mechanism for achieving both of these goals. However time and expense may preclude your ability to participate in the myriad of relevant international and national conference opportunities available to registered nurses these days.

A quick peruse of the NZNO conference and event site reveals around 50 different workshops, conferences and professional development opportunities available nationally. Some of these may have a webinar option also referred to as an online conference, web meeting, net meeting or virtual meeting. A webinar is an online technology that provides a mechanism for nurses across the world to connect globally to benchmark and develop their practice. The phrase webinar is derived from the combining of web and seminar and is thought to have first been used in the 1990’s.

Webinar technology is a new tool emerging in the world of health and other disciplines, making it possible to connect people beyond conference calls and e-mails. During webinar sessions online participants have the opportunity to watch, listen, use email or text chat to ask questions and have a discussion with the presenter. Within the software there’s a presentation area for slides and document sharing.

With a good internet connection (i.e. broadband) and access to a telephone you have all you need to join a webinar or even organise your own webinar. There are a number of free software applications that can be used to host webinars such as Google Hangouts or Web-Ex that you can register with. For an example see Patricia Benner in a 2010 webinar on Educating Nurses and Physicians: Toward New Horizons hosted by the Carnegie Foundation at www.carnegiefoundation.org/resources-webinar-nursing-and-medical-education.

Webinars are a real-time session that people can log in to and often includes time for questions or discussions either live via chat or by phone. If you don’t manage to make the synchronous broadcast then the webinars can often be accessed later on host websites. Many international health organisations provide webinars for example the CDC, American Nurses Association and Institute of Medicine. In New Zealand recently to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2012 an online, interactive webinar on the topic of strengthening protective factors and instilling hope was held – copies of these presentations are available www.spinz.org.nz/page/239-events-archive+webinar-for-world-suicide-prevention-day-2012.

So let your mouse do your walking and check out your favourite conference sites for webinars or recorded presentations post-conference. Don’t let geography get in the way of broadening your professional horizons – with awareness comes choice.

Dr Kathy Holloway is dean of the Faculty of Health at Whitireia Community Polytechnic.

CHECK THESE OUT

Inspire 2012: Reshaping Australia’s Health Workforce
http://www.inspire2012.org.au/

This is an example of how you might use online technology to attend Health Workforce Australia’s inaugural conference, Inspire 2012: Reshaping Australia’s Health Workforce, held in November 2012. The conference brought together some of the world’s most respected leaders in workforce innovation and reform. Many of the key note presentations from this conference have been captured as streaming video sessions allowing you to experience some of the impact of attending this important Australian conference. [Site accessed 6 April 2013 and last update unknown].

Online Issues in Nursing Journal - Social Media and Communication Technology: New “Friends” in Healthcare
http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/JournalTopics/Social-Media-and-Communication-Technology

An American peer-reviewed publication provides a forum for discussion of issues in current topics of interest to nurses and other health care professionals. The intent of the journal is to present different views on issues that affect nursing research, education, and practice, thus enabling readers to understand the full complexity of a topic. When each new topic is posted, the previous topic becomes available to all viewers. This topic is from September 2012 and has five articles that present existing research and expertise on the emerging presence of social media in healthcare giving nurses an insight into both risks and benefits of social media. Don’t forget to check out our own nursing council’s perspective at 
http://www.nursingcouncil.org.nz/download/309/smedia.pdf [Site accessed 6 April 2013 and last updated February 2013].