RVelectricity: Is presenting RV electricity seminars online a good idea?

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By Mike Sokol

Dear Readers,
Like many of you, I have no idea what’s going to happen with cancellation of any of the RV rallies and shows in the upcoming year. As I’m writing this, I’m getting ready for my seminar at the FMCA rally in Tucson at the end of the month, but there’s a chance that it will be rescheduled or even canceled. These are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls. [UPDATE: FMCA canceled the Expo as of Friday, March 13.]

This is right on the heels of all face-to-face classes being shut down at the University where I teach. We now have to convert our curriculum to all online classes in a matter of days. This is pretty complicated for me since I teach mostly practicum classes, which involves setting up and tuning sound systems, mixing live bands, recording performances, etc. That means I have to create webinars and online meetings for dozens of my students beginning this Tuesday. Yikes!!!

While some of my teaching colleagues are struggling with the webcast technology, luckily I have all the video cameras, controllers, microphones and PowerPoint presentations anyone could ask for. And as any of you who’ve attended one of my RVelectricity seminars has seen, I’m already pretty good at integrating overhead cameras into my tabletop electricity demonstrations.

So the idea of creating online RVelectricity webinars has been percolating in my mind for the couple of years, and indeed I’ve tried them a few times, but with only moderate success. Technically these trial webinars worked pretty well, except for when my Internet Service Provider was under attack and kept killing my connection every hour. But I now have a cellular backup network in place so that’s no longer a problem.

So my plan is to begin doing weekly webcasts of my RVelectricity seminars starting the end of March. Because I have a few potential sponsors of these webinars I won’t have to charge anyone for attending online classes. And I can break them down into a 30-minute session each week on different topics such as generator grounding/bonding, battery charging, wattage calculations, etc.

All you have to do is take the survey below letting me know if you’re interested, and which webinar/training platform you might like to use and I’ll take it from there. Also, please comment about the various topics you would like me to present first. That will help in my planning.

And since getting this all set up is taking a huge chunk of my time, which means I can’t even do my normal day job for the next month, any donation you can do to my I Like Mike campaign would be greatly appreciated.

surveyHopefully things will settle down soon and I’ll be able to continue with my on-site seminars at RV rallies and shows, but I’m preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

So please take the following survey, even if you’re not interested in online classes. If you would like to take part in my online RVelectricity webinars, please indicate which platform you might use. I may be able to stream this to multiple webinar platforms – if I’m clever enough. Or if you know of some other webinar software that might work for this, please let me know in the comments below. Right now Zoom looks like the platform of choice, but I’m looking at all possibilities.

Would you like to participate in Mike’s online RVelectricity Webinars beginning in April, and if so which media platform?

Thanks very much for your help with this. Let’s play safe out there….

And please donate to my I Like Mike Campaign if possible. Just click the button below for more information. And thank you very much for your support.

Mike_Info_Button_Only_150

 

 

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign.

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35 Comments
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Joseph Weinstein
6 months ago

I am grateful for your dedication to raising the knowledge level of all of us. I would suggest that you add a donate button to all of your classes and ask for at least a $5.00 donation for each class. If you are going to provide this service to us, we should be willing to support your efforts. We should support your need to purchase equipment and give you something for your time. $5.00….come on folks!

Mike Sokol
6 months ago

I’ll run a survey this week to see if there’s interest in this type of financial support for my webinars. But my previous live streams had only a handful of viewers (less than 100) so I’m not sure how much that support will add up to. As you can see above, only 400 readers answered the survey, while my silly survey last year about selecting mustard or ketchup on hotdogs had 10 times the number of you responding. So hotdog condiments got 10x the interest of RVelectricity webinars. You can see why I’m not optimistic about this.

Mike Sokol
5 months ago

I finally have a few small sponsors interested in supporting this, so I won’t have to charge you viewers a penny. I want to keep this knowledge as accessible as possible for everyone.

LiVan_Life
6 months ago

Selected Zoom but all formats work alright for us.

Arvis Copley
6 months ago

I would like very much to see this kind of information presented online. The format is not important to me but I use a tablet for everything. We are full time residents in our RV so sometimes we don’t have WiFi and cell signal is not the best. Some kind of archive would be great.

TomS
6 months ago

Its been over 15 years since I endured web conferencing so I have no option, I’m sure any are better than I used in the past.

David
6 months ago

I am retired from IT and have used Webex many times and reluctantly used GoToMeeting with one vendor which offered no choice, but I have never heard of Zoom heretofore. YouTube Live may be tempting, but I have been on meetings which bots began to interrupt with sexually oriented advertising. I don’t know how they found us, but between bots and idiots making political statements, I left the meeting. Therefore, I view YouTube as the least likely platform, even though it is the easiest for the end user to understand.

TravelingMan
6 months ago
Reply to  David

Kinda like Craigslist anymore…

Bill
6 months ago

Mike –

I would really like to “attend” your seminars, but you need to tell me a couple things. First, what will be the cost to me to get the software and any required hardware. WebX, ZoomVideo, and GoToMeeting are all aimed at corporate meetings, which in turn implies two way communications, which them implies expensive software – not to mention extra hardware. Do you anticipate a one-way (lecture) format, or a two-way (question and answer) format?

Second, as others have already noted, I would like to be able to participate at a time of my choosing, rather than a pre-announced fixed time. I don’t demand this, but it would increase my interest.

Can you tell us more about what you have in mind?

Thanks

Bill

Mike Sokol
6 months ago
Reply to  Bill

Any of the webinar platforms I’m considering would be free to the audience (that’s you) even the ones that let you participate as a group meeting. Of course it’s not free for me, but it’s pretty reasonable. Zoom Webinar can have up to 100 logged in participants with cameras on their computers or smartphones, plus another 10,000 watchers who can still send text messages to the host (that’s me). Zoom doesn’t require that you even install software since it can be accessed from a web browser. And it will simulcast to YouTube and Facebook. Everything can be recorded to a Cloud Server as well as Facebook/YouTube. So unless I find something better, this could be the webinar software I start with.

Daniel Pankiewicz
6 months ago

If you could just put in on youtube (than going live) it would be much better because going live there are many reasons someone may not be able to watch it right than and there. Just my thought.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago

The live webinars would include feedback and questions from the viewers, all of which would be recorded and catalogued for you to play back at any time. The best of both worlds, actually.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago

These would be live recordings that you could access at any time and bandwidth you had available.

TravelingMan
6 months ago

Mike,

You do a great job and I’m sure most everyone who reads your information really appreciates it. It’s usually basic enough for those less technical but not boring to those who have a background in this and fact check you often.

But think about where people are when they read this. Many might do it on Saturday AM while having coffee. Some might read randomly throughout the week or month. If they are full-timers who constantly rely on your information, they may in remote areas camping and enjoying life.

The point is that many are probably busy with their own lives and they read this when they get a chance. Not on a schedule (my personal scheduled went away when I retired). Webinars are tough as you have to set a time for everyone to attend. Great for the occasional hot topic, but for routine topics, it will be tough. And for just some of the reasons above, they may like to attend but just can’t. That’s going to limit your intended audience.

Is is possible to create educational videos (basic, intermediate, advanced – troubleshooting) and post them on line for a reasonable subscription fee or if you have sponsors, then no fee? If sponsors, we get it that that means commercials every two seconds. I would personally request that they be at the end of the video….But videos can be viewed at a convenience or in the hour-of-need. I often come to this periodical when I am interested in a topic and need information. I also check the archives. I would love to go to a centralized location for all my “understanding” needs.

Just a suggestion…

TravelingMan
6 months ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

I would also propose the idea of limiting videos to 15 minute sessions. People have a genuine interest but a limited attention span.

As a bonus, making instructional videos also frees your time to whenever you have it to make them.

Having them on a separate web-site might also increase your subscription base.

THEN, have polls or radial buttons inserted on a topic to find out if people might have an interest in a future Webiner. If enough interest is there, then schedule accordingly. For those interested and who have subscribed, be sure to send a followup email stating when and where (on the web) that will occur.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

All great ideas, but it would cost a few thousand dollars a month for an IT specialist to manage it. However that’s my plan going forward.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago
Reply to  TravelingMan

Yes, that’s what I can do eventually, but this still need some kind of sponsorship or grant funding so I can spend the hundreds (even thousands) of hours it will take to do this properly. I just don’t want to use Adsense to pay for this.

TravelingMan
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Thank you!

jim
6 months ago

I suspect that I would attend from time-to-time based on the topic. I have used some of these technologies in the past, but don’t know enough about any of the current versions to comment on which is best or which I would “like” to use.

Ralph Pinney
6 months ago

Great idea! I suspect this would draw a significant number of attendees as well as lots of people viewing the recording afterwards. I would be ok with a nominal fee.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago
Reply to  Ralph Pinney

I’m trying to keep it free for consumers to watch, but I would charge RV technicians a fee to access the most technical content.

Robert E Staples
6 months ago

Mike, I think this is great news! I’ve tried to attend several of your seminars, but couldn’t make the time and location work for me. I like that your planning for interactive sessions, the Q&A is one of the best parts. I’m sure you will record those so people can study them in their own time.
I’m most interested in intermediate to advanced topics, but I’ve read everything you’ve posted so far and it is all interesting and useful.
I’m hoping you will be pleasantly surprised at how successful you will be.
Thanks so much for all you do,
Bob S

agesilaus
6 months ago

I’d watch them, I’ve already picked up several tips from your posts here. You can’t have too much knowledge after all.

Bill T
6 months ago

Would be great if I could access each seminar on an as required basis. The material you present Mike is interesting, but I don’t always have the time to watch it all at once. Thanks.

Ed K
6 months ago

Not sure what YouTube Live is, but I do like the information you have to present and I do watch YouTube so if YouTube Live and YouTube are one and the same, I am in for it.

Mike Sokol
6 months ago

I was studying Zoom last night, and it appears that it will simulcast to Facebook live and YouTube live as well as record the entire session to the cloud for later viewing. Plus I can have up to 100 attendees around the world on their own Video cameras that can be brought up full screen at any time for the group, as well as 10,000 attendees also watching on their own computers or smartphones. The cost for this level of Zoom with the add-ons is pretty reasonable at a few hundred dollars a month. This could become my primary webinar platform.

Drew
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

Mike, I don’t like webinars where all you do is try to listen carefully. There’s no one to look at, no scenes or demonstrations. They seem suited to very short presentations where there’s a limited amount of material covered. Thanks for doing a great job!

Wolfe
6 months ago

I’m NOT an expert on webinar presentation tech, I’d heavily lean towards YouTube for being ubiquitous and definitely having a bandwidth control… since many viewers will have very limited connections, being able to downgrade the data rate is critical. If other services have this ability, be sure to clearly point out that control.