Friday, September 11, 2009

Webinar 101: Part 1 - Getting Started

by Bridget Gilormini

Part 1—Getting Started

A Webinar—short for “Web seminar”—is a great way to attend a workshop without ever having to leave your home or office. Convenient and cost saving, Webinars are presented via the Internet and can reach a large audience. The process for participating is simple—once you know the basics. If you’re new to Webinars, knowing the following three things will help you have a positive experience.

First, you will need a computer with high-speed Internet access. The most current versions of system software and browsers tend to have the features needed to view and interact with a Webinar, so be sure your system is up to date. For example, if you are using Firefox for Mac to access the Internet, be sure you are using Firefox 3.5.2. If you are able to register for a Webinar, you probably will be able to view the Webinar as well.

Second, you will need to have an e-mail address. Information about a Webinar typically is delivered electronically. Once you register online, you’ll receive confirmation information, reminders, notification of any changes, a link to the workshop, evaluations, certificates of attendance, and the like. (If you don’t receive the information you’re expecting, check your junk mail folder. Some e-mail systems interpret Webinar e-mails as spam.)

Some organizations allow you to specify whether they may use your e-mail and registration information for other purposes, such as marketing research, mailing lists, or survey requests. If you want to be sure your personal e-mail address is not shared, you may want to set up an e-mail address just for attending Webinars.

Third, you may want to know that Webinars can be delivered through different software programs. While they have similar features, each has a different way of organizing and delivering the information. Some, for example, allow the presenter to make accommodations such as captioning or audio descriptions. You can request accommodations when you register. PACER uses a tool called GoToWebinar by Citrix. Other popular tools used include: Adobe, iLinc, Saba, Webex, Conference Plus, MicroSoft Live Meeting, and IBM Lotus SameTime.

These three tips should help you feel more comfortable navigating the world of Webinars. If you would like to view an archived Webinar on “How to Attend and Navigate a Webinar,” visit and click on the link for “Webinar 101.”

In Part II of this article, coming next month, we’ll talk about what happens after you register for a Webinar and how to find Webinars in which you are interested.

Did You Know? NEW Accessibility Features in Windows 7

When Windows 7 is released this fall, it will feature several new accessibility enhancements. For example, the Magnifier in Windows 7 will include both a full screen and “lens” mode that focuses on a specific area of the screen. The speech recognition in Windows 7 will offer more advanced voice control so you can compose emails or even surf the Internet without touching the keyboard. To learn more about the accessibility features in Windows 7, visit

STC Consultant’s Corner

Does your school need an AT consultant?

Does your school or district need help selecting, acquiring, or using assistive technology devices or software? Could your school benefit from expert guidance regarding the appropriate strategies or technologies for use in regular or special education settings? If so, the PACER Simon Technology Center can help. Our experienced and knowledgeable assistive technology team can provide a variety of services that include:

  • Training and supporting district teams in the selection, acquisition, and use of assistive technology devices.
  • Consultations regarding any student’s specific assistive technology needs
  • Recommendations regarding appropriate strategies and/or technologies for use in regular or special education settings
  • Development of an assistive technology plan or program
  • Dissemination of information regarding available resources

To learn more about PACER Simon Technology Center consultation services, contact Bridget Gilormini, Simon Technology Center coordinator, at 952-838-9000 to discuss options and rates.

Web Spotlight: Atomic Learning

Atomic Learning has been providing comprehensive online training with short, easy to understand videos for almost 10 years. Their expansive library includes tutorials on software like Microsoft Word to lessons on 21st century skills for the classroom. But most notably they have a large segment on assistive technology.

Atomic Learning’s assistive technology videos lead you step by step on how to use some of the most popular AT solutions available. From Boardmaker to WYNN, each tutorial is broken up into a series of small videos that allow you to quickly learn from the beginning or jump ahead for more advanced tips and techniques. If you are curious about what is available and how the videos look, you can browse their collection and watch the first two videos on any subject for free.

Atomic learning is a subscription-based service. A year of individual access to their library costs $99.99 for just the technology skills and $149.99 for access to their assistive technology library. You can also request a price quote and get a trial subscription for your school. Volume pricing is available at a significant discount to schools, districts, organizations and businesses. Be sure to check with your school or organization to see if they provide access to Atomic Learning before signing up. If a school has a contract with Atomic Learning, then access to the site is extended to attending students and their parents/guardians.

Early Childhood Corner: CELL Infant Practice Guide – Playing with Words

September’s featured CELL Practice Guide focuses on toddlers’ first interactions with letters of the alphabet and developing their letter recognition skills. Before a child learns to read, he or she must be able to identify letters and words and understand how print is different than pictures. To help toddlers become familiar with letters and words, gather together several alphabet toys such as alphabet blocks, magnet or foam letters or create letter toys using items such as alphabet cookie cutters or cut out sponges. Play with your child and describe to them what they are doing with the letters

Access more information about this practice guide Playing with Words.

Product Spotlight: Talking Photo Album

A talking photo album can be a cost effective communication tool to help children and adults who are nonverbal communicate. The Talking Photo Album has 24 pages that each hold a 4”x6” photo. A voice recording up to 10 seconds can be recorded for each page of the device. When a photo, symbol, or text card is inserted, it becomes an effective communication tool.

This tool can be used for to create talking stories, make a communication book, or record step-by-step directions.

Talking photo albums can be used in a variety of ways to increase independence, communication, and support literacy skills. More information about the talking photo album can be found online at:, or

$30 - $50