Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Learning in a wine bar (well sort of)

Imagine your favourite wine bar or pub early on a Saturday evening. You are the first of your friends to arrive, you get a drink and sit back and relax. As you wait you notice the hubble bubble noise of excited friends chatting to each other, late arrivers are greeted with enthusiasm, bar staff are buzzing as they energetically work to keep the punters happy. There is a great vibe about the place and your friends haven’t even arrived yet.

This my friends is synonymous with the learning environment of your favourite synchronous classroom. Yes a learning environment that is vibrant and enjoyable. A learning establishment where you can chat in class, in fact chatting in class is positively encouraged.

Learning in an online synchronous classroom

Where do I find such a classroom you ask? How can this be possible you ask? Well to answer your first question I will direct you to insync training whose business is online synchronous classroom training and where they specialize in creating skilled online synchronous training facilitators whose job it is to facilitate the buzzing vibrant classroom that in my opinion is akin to the hubble bubble excitement that can be found in your favourite wine bar on a saturday night out.

However a skilled online synchronous training facilitator alone is not enough, the other essential and vital ingredient to enjoy this unique learning environment is your participation.

Just as in the wine bar you’ll be encouraged to share stories and experiences, meet new friends and enjoy interacting with your mates. In addition you have the opportunity to help and support fellow classmates, share knowledge, learn from your classmates, work with your classmates, share jokes with your classmates and just damn well enjoy yourself.

Amongst the tools available to the synchronous classroom facilitator to encourage collaboration amongst participants are interactive whiteboards, application sharing, text chat, instant surveys and quizzes, breakout rooms and of course the facilitator themselves who will be able to stimulate interaction, give confidence to participants and generally keep the buzz going.

To complete the learning experience and to gain maximum benefit, pre and post classroom homework is also another essential ingredient.

In summary be prepared to participate, be prepared to do homework and be prepared to enjoy yourself and have fun.

[MY COMMENT: This blog is a reflection of my feelings on the potential of the synchronous classroom. It has been written after a couple of beers the two hour online classes of the insynch online synchronous facilitation certificate , a course which I am enrolled on. What have I learnt? I have learnt that technology issues aside the important elements of a synchronous classroom are a skilled facilitator, participation from the class and making the time for and being prepared to do the homework.]

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