As a past qualified teacher,


As a past qualified teacher, examiner and qualification writer, distance learning as an aim is fine – but delivery systems are so problematic, I suspect not the area where a newcomer starting from scratch has a lot of hope. In the education world there are lots of conventions at the very least and often plenty of rules – plus you have the tricky subject of learning styles to cope with.

Let me try to explain.

To save money, one of the exam boards tried to use distance communication tools for their examiner training. The first thing that really caused issues was the huge range of IT/computer ability of the people. Some very, very intelligent people incapable of setting the software up, incapable of operating it, and incapable of coping with this style of learning. We would have a screen with the ability for us to read text documents – by integrating with word, that you had running, Excel for spreadsheets, media player for videos and audio files. The system had a small box where you could type in text, which would be displayed, with your name, on everyones screen. There was a button to ‘put you hand up’ so the trainer could stop and ask you to talk, you then pressed a key and everyone could hear your voice. You could click on yes or no boxes, and even clap! Wonderful, but it failed on every level. Some people could not talk, some could not hear, many couldn’t seem to get multiple windows open, and on one session, the trainer managed to start elton john singing on an audio file, but couldn’t stop it again. The trainer herself couldn’t cope with the constant interruptions, claps, hand ups, and text messages. After just one session, it had to be abandoned and they actually lost a number of examiners who just could not cope with it. In the end, they had to have an IT support person present for each on line session – a total shambles. As a learning experience very poor.

If you want to do this kind of thing, then it will cost. As a trainer you will feel impotent and out of control – you have no idea whatsoever of who is doing well and who isn’t – and I would suggest this is a subject that needs very particular skills from the presenter. It is nothing like teaching a group in person. I ran one session and while I am happy with technology, the pace was snail like – always having to ask Fred (19) to slow down, and to wait for Mary (50) to click on her OK button so we could move on. As the trainer you have no way of knowing if they understand you. If they click the tick button, did they really finish the task, or just read the text box where the 19 year old gave the game away, and give up on their own work and just replicate what he said. As an educator, I hated it with a passion. Despite costing a lot of money – the board continued as they were spending less than having real meetings. For communication to work, it must be two way and accurate. You have no idea about accuracy at a distance.

Jus look at the one-way youtube videos. The majority are pathetic, and flawed. Some are well planned, but poorly carried out, a tiny number get it right – and even when they do, it is often the wrong style for somebody else – who sees the same material and learns nothing!

Best of luck

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