How to make up a meeting online
Some e-clubs, like Finland's Rotary E-Club of Verkkorotary, meet via Web-conferencing software. Photo illustration by Stan Watts
I love my Rotary club. My weekly lunch meeting at the Rotary Club of Deerfield, Illinois, USA, has become a regular and welcome part of my life.
Yet, even the most dedicated Rotarians find it hard to achieve that loftiest of club goals -- 100 percent attendance. And when a career change placed me at RI headquarters in Evanston, I found myself a good 25 to 30 miles from my club’s home base.
It was after this move that an occasional make-up at one of Rotary's 14 officially chartered e-clubs, part of a pilot program that runs through 2010, became appealing. What if I could make up online and not have to pay another club’s lunch fee?
But I soon discovered that the e-clubs strongly encourage a donation commensurate with what you'd pay at your usual meeting. (Payment options range from PayPal to secure online credit card transactions.) That said, making up a meeting at an e-club still represented an attractive option. Here’s how to go about it.
Find a club that speaks your language. Paring down the list to English-speaking ones ruled out one of the most intriguing choices, Finland's Rotary E-Club of Verkkorotary, which meets via Web-conferencing software Centra every Tuesday at 21:00 in Finland (13:00 for me). But only six meetings each year (the second meeting of even months) are conducted in English. The rest, alas, are in Finnish.
If that schedule is convenient for your make-up, you’ll need an Internet connection of at least 512 kilobits a second, a computer with Windows XP or Vista, a headset, and a webcam. Try to connect to the conference room link at least 15 minutes beforehand, as first-time log-on takes some time.
Picking a program
Even after weeding out the non-English-speaking e-clubs from my list, my choices were considerable. Unfettered by the typical restraints of geography, an e-club beckons any Rotarian in need of a make-up at any time and in any place.
E-clubs generally have two requirements for a make-up: Spend 30 minutes on their site reading from a collection of Rotary-related programs, and complete a make-up request form, which includes answering a few questions about what you read. (Don't worry, the questions are reflective, not multiple choice.)
The Rotary E-Club of District 7890 offered a particularly tempting option for me -- the ability to complete a make-up by reading one or more of the news articles on the RI Web site. Since that is what my day job as multimedia editor for RI's site requires, this sounded easy. But The Four-Way Test nudged me onto the more honest path of checking out their other weekly programs and depositing the required post to its online discussion forum.
The flexibility and convenience of an e-club make-up can't be beat. Once on a club's site, just click the link for make-ups and follow the simple instructions.
Learn more about e-clubs.
Read more How to articles from January's The Rotarian.