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Winter 2002/2003
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Free, Live Training Seminars Teach Thousands Online

  a live broadcast in progress
A live broadcast in progress.

A sign posted outside the third floor conference room reads: "Quiet please!" People inside seem hurried, but focused. A tangle of wires and an array of computers crowd the conference table at the center of the room. The Esri instructor sits squarely in front of a keyboard, computer screen, and microphone. It's almost 9 a.m. Suddenly, all movement comes to a standstill.

"Welcome to today's Live Training Seminar, Introduction to Programming using VBA. If you can hear my voice, you have successfully connected to our broadcast." So begins another free training seminar, broadcast live each month from the Esri Virtual Campus. The seminar will last one hour and be repeated twice more over the course of the day. It will reach more than 700 people around the world.

Even though participants can hear but not see the presenter, Live Training Seminars are highly interactive and surprisingly personal. The presenter answers questions in real time and can ask participants questions (e.g., "How many of you are using ArcView 8.3?"). These questions help presenters tailor their presentations for their audience, just as they would in a classroom. Most seminars also include a software demonstration to show how particular GIS tasks are performed.

GIS Programmer/Analyst Melissa Northey likes the fact that she always gets a "front row seat" at the Live Training Seminars. She says that seeing a seminar on her desktop is "much easier than traveling for a live seminar and having to sit in the back of a huge room where you can't see the screen."

Mapping/Design Technician Trena Plummer echoes the sentiment expressed by many attendees from rural areas where training opportunities are limited. She calls the seminars "a great tool for those of us who work a long way from a major center where training is much more readily available."

Kay McKinney, who works for an emergency management agency, likes the "tips and tricks" that the seminars offer. "I am grateful for the chance to quickly learn anything that will make my job easier," says McKinney.

The Esri Virtual Campus started broadcasting Live Training Seminars in late 2001. "We wanted something engaging and interactive for our 175,000 campus members," says Nick Frunzi, director of Esri's Educational Services. "Most of the Web courses at the campus are self-study. We wanted educational offerings that would bring GIS professionals together in this virtual environment."

For a nominal fee, the Virtual Campus can provide a recorded version of any live seminar that can be heard any time, a printable version of the presentation slides, a transcript of the top questions and answers from the related live event, a hands-on software exercise with accompanying data, an optional exam to assess comprehension, and a certificate of completion for successfully taking the exam. These recorded versions are called Web Workshops.

For more information about Web courses, to view a schedule of upcoming free Live Training Seminars, or to discover Web Workshops, visit Esri Training and Education.

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