My journey to teaching writing in a corporate setting continues: For the next month or so I’ll be blogging occasionally about issues related to designing and teaching courses online.
Most of the online training I’ve had so far has been very passive – clicking through screens full of text for hours on end (okay, maybe half-hours, but it sure seemed like hours) and answering the occasional multiple-choice question. In that kind of asynchronous web-based training, the “teacher” remains invisible – the Great & Powerful Oz behind a curtain of html. Web-based training was not a particularly rewarding experience for me as a student; I’m not a passive person. And it’s hard for me to imagine that it’s rewarding for the instructor/designer/creator (or if we’re sticking with the Oz metaphor, the Wizard).
One of the things I enjoy most about training is collecting feedback from the students. Since all of the training I’ve done so far has been real-time, real-world-based, that feedback has come from seeing the light dawn on a student’s face or hearing well-reasoned answers to my questions. So far, no applause. But I’m still hopeful. But Oz, our web-based trainer, will never get to experience those things.
Synchronous instructor-led online training offers slightly more feedback for instructors: they can see and hear the students and interact with them in something close to real-time (though the magic of technology can’t eliminate the awkward pauses of dead air in between speakers). In instructor-led online training, instructors function in much the same way they do in classrooms: as facilitator, expert, authority, resource, coach. Additionally, they are able to personalize instruction to clarify confusions or suggest additional resources. And students are able to ask questions and enrich the “classroom” discussion with their own thoughts and insights. These things are not possible with an asynchronous, web-based program.