So e-learning can’t emulate (good) face-to-face training?

The e-learning sector has had a problem for a long time. A lot of e-learning isn’t inspiring the learners and has very little impact. More and more decision-makers know this and their reluctance shows. Many organisations I work with in the non-profit sector haven’t made the move yet. They are worried.

They are worried about losing the magic of the wonderful face-to-face workshops they run. If you are one of them, I’m with you – it’s in this sector that I have attended the best workshops with the best facilitators. It’s in this sector that I have done some seriously deep and life-changing learning… in the classroom.

I get annoyed then when authors claim that one of the reasons why we’re let down by e-learning is because it’s too much like the classroom. What classroom? The boring lecture given by someone with no teaching skills? OK, I get that. Let’s not emulate that in our e-learning.

But wait, how about some of the other classrooms? Passionate facilitators, meaningful group work around real work problems, deep conversations, great networking with fabulous peers… – those are real too. I’ve been lucky to participate in very inspiring face-to-face training. Many organisations out there run these gems every day.

When I design eWorkshops and train e-facilitators, these are the learning experiences I have in mind. E-learning needs to be more like that, not less. That’s exactly what we’re missing in the great majority of online programmes. And no, webinars are not the solution – read why here and here.

When highly successful face-to-face facilitators participate in a eWorkshop and love it, this means a lot to me. Why? Because more than anyone else, they value the very important human touch, the voice of the learner, the significance of well-designed group activities, and solid learner support. In an e-learning sector dominated by tech, data, games and other bells-and-whistles, it’s great to be in an online environment where we get to focus on ‘learning’ rather than on all the ‘e’(tech).

And when eWorkshops inspire highly talented face-to-face facilitators to reflect on their own work – that goes much deeper than a mere stamp of approval. Last year my friend and colleague Val Uccellani (Global Learning Partners) wrote the blog post ‘3 things seasoned facilitators can learn from e-facilitation’.

Last week I shared this piece with my group in the e-facilitation workshop which is currently running. It really resonated with those people who are worried. It gives them confidence that their e-learning programmes can retain the magic of their great face-to-face training.

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