Why eWorkshops instead of webinars?

We have been developing eWorkshops for many years and our clients and their learners love them. Because they work best in a linear constructivist learning management system (LMS), we set them up in Moodle.

We use the eWorkshop model when it is important that people bring their own work experiences to the learning event and when the learning outcomes are best achieved when people learn together. They work best for subjects where there aren’t clear right and wrong answers, where there are a lot of ‘grey zones’, where answers depend on people’s own context, and where participants benefit from networking opportunities.

In fact these are the same reasons why in the past we would have suggested to have (keep) a face-to-face workshop instead of offering e-learning. Not anymore though. If we want a strong ‘human’ touch in our e-learning then eWorkshops are usually the answer.

eWorkshops are collaborative and facilitated problem-based online learning events that are run over a number of weeks and typically require 4-6 hours commitment per week. Most (if not all) of the work is done asynchronously.

eWorkshops are very different to webinars or virtual classrooms, which are run ‘real time’ (everyone logs in at the same time). Webinars have serious limitations and are in fact too challenging to run in the majority of our clients’ programmes. The reasons range from the cheer number of time zones to multiple clashing time schedules, various access problems as well as just basic inconvenience. They tend to be time-consuming and stressful, and offer very little added value considering the effort invested to run them.

Moreover, most webinars are presentations alongside a Q&A – mostly what we call “instructivist” or a “sage on stage” model and … well, I really don’t believe that’s the way adults (want to) learn. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a problem with having a narrated presentation in a course – I just always wonder why everyone needs to log in at the same time to watch them.

Asynchronous discussions and collaborative work potentially offer so much more depth. Unlike in the typical webinar, in eWorkshops there is space to adhere to true constructivist adult learning principles.

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