Modern teachers face a bewildering array of technological options – finding which ones are effective is a big challenge.

Earl Stevick’s model for effective learning  advocates  concentrated, intuitive, onerous and rational teaching methods combined with kindness and understanding.

These principles require educators to look at learners as individuals rather than as an anonymous target group.

On the face of it,  distance learning via the internet cannot hope to meet these challenging demands but I came away from my first experience of a web-based seminar feeling quite positive about its potential as a resource to supplement traditional classroom methods.

These online presentations go under the hateful heading of  ‘webinars’, a portmanteau word I detest. The one I participated in was run by Oxford University Press  on the topic of teaching academic speaking skills to students learning English as a foreign language.

The experience was as interesting for the contributions of the other participants in the message board as it was for the input by the teacher. In a way I guess this mirrors how interactions work face to face – group dynamics are such that the student to student connection is often as vital as that between teacher and student.

It made me look critically at my teaching style and I realise I’d like to explore ways of being more of a facilitator than an instructor.

Have you participated in a ‘webinar‘?  If so, what were the pros and cons for you?

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