I attended a great presentation today by April Broussard at the ASTD Northeast Florida chapter meeting on tools and approaches to using virtual elements in training. She covered an interesting distinction between webcasting and webinars, with each having similar elements, but also differences.
While some might lump both into the same category, there are differences. Webinars and webcast sessions both involve use of tools to broadcast presentations, including audio/video, over the Internet. But webinars, using common virtual conference platforms like WebEx or GoToMeeting, emphasize more audience interaction. Webcasts, on the other hand, capture and display a presentation and, while they can enable audience participation to some degree, are more intended for larger scale one-way broadcasts.
When looking at virtual conference solutions for training, it helps to understand the differences between these approaches and to target the appropriate vendors for platform solutions depending on your goals. Here’s a helpful article on further comparing web conferencing, web casting, and webinars.