When you need to provide educational events such as customer onboarding or continuing education, you might be wondering what the difference is between GoToWebinar and GoToTraining and which platform is best. I’ve been working with GoToWebinar and GoToTraining for more than 10 years…literally since they were just ideas, not even fully coded. To this day, I use both on a regular basis.
While a feature comparison chart is fine, it doesn’t really put the differences into context, especially when your intention is to deliver training. The point of this article, then, is to expand on the differences between each platform for online education.
Online Conference Versus Online Training
To start, in terms of overall feature set, there really is a difference in the level of interaction between the two platforms.
- GoToWebinar is like attending a conference where speakers engage with the audience in a one-to-many scenario. Interaction is essentially limited to polling and Q&A just like it would be at any large conference. If you want to deliver training using GoToWebinar, it’s conducive to presenting information in a more formal fashion, to large groups, and when you want to have formal guest speakers.
- GoToTraining is like attending a workshop. Participants join unmuted by default, just like when people trickle into a training room and everyone can hear each other. Participants can interact using chat, testing, polling, draw tools, pre-course work, and webcam. GoToTraining is conducive to teaching both small groups and larger groups where higher interaction is key to your learning outcomes.
Both platforms offer custom registration forms, and registration is hosted within the applications themselves. Choose from a list of common registration questions or create a custom question or two to get to know your audience before the event (and even help you adjust your learning content accordingly). Then send out or post the registration link. You can also determine if attendees are automatically or manually approved upon registration. One major difference:
- GoToWebinar offers a Source Tracking feature. Let’s say you offer public customer onboarding training and you provide the registration links through multiple outlets or third parties, Source Tracking enables you to create unique registration links to help you track campaign efforts.
Because GoToWebinar is like a conference experience, and GoToTraining is like a workshop experience, there is a difference in the assigned roles that are available in each platform.
- GoToWebinar has the following roles: organizer, panelist and presenter. The organizer is the person scheduling and managing the webinar. You can have more than one organizer during the webinar to help you manage it. A panelist is essentially a guest speaker and may or may not present their desktop, but cannot manage the webinar itself. The presenter is the person sharing their presentation (desktop) with the audience. As you can see, these roles offer more formality and control. A typical webinar may have two organizers and two or more panelists. The panelists may take turns sharing their piece of the presentation. The organizer will manage things like changing presenters and monitoring Q&A.
- GoToTraining has the following roles: organizer and presenter. Usually the organizer is also the trainer and is the person presenting their desktop as well as managing various aspects of the training. You can promote anyone in-session to be an organizer to assist with larger audiences. As part of your interaction toolkit, you can make anyone in your audience a presenter. This is helpful when you want participants to share in the learning, check for understanding, or model learned behavior in real time.
Materials and Handouts
- In GoToWebinar you can upload up to five handouts to your webinar event. This is great for adding workbooks or other materials to assist with your training. One caveat: handouts can only be viewed and downloaded in-session, so for working documents, you’ll want to spend a few minutes during housekeeping to guide participants in downloading any docs you want them to work on in-session. The Handouts pane shows up for the attendee like this:
- One of my favorite features in GoToTraining is Materials. You can add materials such as handouts, workbooks, and external links. But more than that, you can make your materials accessible before, during and after your training. When you mark any materials as available before the training, participants will receive a confirmation email with links to view any materials. This means you can extend your training beyond the in-session time. Here’s what it looks like after a registrant clicks the Materials link in their confirmation and reminder emails:
Again keeping in mind the formality of a conference and the more informal nature of a workshop, audio works differently in the two platforms.
- When webinar staff (organizers and panelists) join a GoToWebinar event, they are initially joined in a subconference. This means you can talk freely with each other, do a sound check, and review any last minute details privately without the audience hearing. When you click “Start Broadcast,” all attendees can then hear you but are in listen-only mode by default. If you want to engage your audience in verbal discussion or Q&A, you can unmute individual attendee lines. GoToWebinar includes a practice mode so that you can launch your webinar privately with webinar staff to run through slides or practice webcams before allowing attendees to join.
- In contrast to this, GoToTraining participants join the training unmuted by default and can hear you, the organizer, and each other. However, you can mute all lines at any time. Muting all lines is helpful when you have larger groups joining your GoToTraining session, or when participants join from outside your organization (public training) and you want to create an environment of privacy.
Both platforms offer polling. On either GoToWebinar or GoToTraining, you can use polling to gather data that can help you adjust your content to a specific audience in real time, or even use it as a type of engaging pre- and post-testing.
Both GoToWebinar and GoToTraining include webcam. The difference is that in GoToWebinar, you will most likely only use webcams for your panelists who are presenting, as it tends to be a more formal affair. In GoToTraining, you might use the webcam feature with your participants when engaging in interactive activities such as small group discussions or role plays.
Q&A Versus Chat
Two features that often get confused within the two platforms are Q&A and Chat.
- GoToWebinar has the unique Q&A feature. This enables audiences to submit text questions throughout the presentation. However, there are some important things to know about Q&A. Only organizers can view the questions submitted. Questions are private and other members in the audience cannot see them. This level of control is important for large-scale webinars or when you want to keep audience questions private for organizer-viewing only. There is a Chat function, but it is only for the webinar staff to be able to communicate with each other in-session.
- GoToTraining does not have Q&A, but includes the Chat function. An organizer can adjust chat permission levels so that participants can either chat freely (even with each other) or chat only with the organizer, or the organizer can turn the chat off completely.
Sharing video is unique to GoToWebinar. You can upload up to 5 videos to the webinar. It’s important to note that as of this writing, video sharing is still in beta and the audio for video streams only through computer speakers (VoIP) or through a mobile device; anyone listening through a phone needs to either switch to computer audio or join the webinar through a mobile device.
If you want to share video in your GoToTraining session, my recommendation is to upload your clips to Vimeo, YouTube, or even a hidden page on your website. You can then add the links to the videos on your Materials page and make the links accessible as you choose, either before or during. Participants can view the clips prior to your training, or you can ask them to view a clip during your webinar as an activity. It will then stream on their end using their computer and browser settings.
Survey Versus Evaluation
It’s important to seek feedback on any events you hold and to give your participants a voice. Both platforms include built-in functions to survey the audience. GoToWebinar calls it a Survey, GoToTraining calls it an Evaluation. The Survey and Evaluation can be launched after the webinar ends or included in the follow-up email. In my experience, higher response rates occur when the survey is launched directly after the webinar, and it’s helpful to announce it to the audience before you end the presentation. If you want to see a few examples of good survey questions, take a look at 8 Best Webinar Practices for 2019.
GoToWebinar includes an option to send a certificate along with the follow-up email. It is built into the system and cannot be customized at this time. The certificate will include the webinar title, the name of the participant, the date of the webinar, and the name of the organizer. It looks like this:
Additional Features in GoToTraining
The Library is one of my favorite features. You can upload and store documents and external links (to online articles or webpages, for example). You can also store tests, polls, and evaluations. Add one or more materials into your training and make them accessible before, during and after the training. Corporate accounts can share materials in the Library.
If you offer multiple customer training sessions, the Catalog feature enables you to create and publish one or more online course catalogs. Then when you set up a training, you can add it to a specific catalog and your online catalog is automatically updated to include the new training.
Testing is definitely an important feature if you are delivering any kind of compliance or continuing education training. Any tests you create can be saved to your GoToTraining Library for re-use. Make the test accessible before, during or after the training. You can also determine if participants are able to see their results after they take the test. One of the ways I use testing is to give the test both at the beginning and at the end of the training so that participants can see the improvements they’ve made.
One last feature I want to call out is the Timer. Unique to GoToTraining, use the timer to manage activities and breaks. When you turn on the timer, participants will see the timer in the GoToTraining viewer window and they can easily keep track of how much time is left.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I have been using both GoToWebinar and GoToTraining for more than 10 years and I have used them both for educational events. GoToWebinar was initially designed for marketers and sales professionals so the features are geared toward that type of user delivering to a large, mostly passive, audience. Still, you can easily use it for customer onboarding, just be aware of some of the limitations in engagement.
GoToTraining was obviously designed for trainers (I did a lot of testing and feedback with the original UX design team). It’s more feature-rich on participant interaction than GoToWebinar. If you plan to use it for large audiences, be aware of the difference in how audio works, the chat function, video sharing, and the organizer role.
Here’s to your success!
Corena Bahr is a Consultant & Trainer helping experts at corporations and global firms deliver world-class webinars for client outreach and customer onboarding. She teaches experts how to create a human connection with a virtual audience, structure content for engagement, and how to use the “bells & whistles” of webinar platforms to drive business goals. Corena is also a LinkedIn Learning course author and public speaker.