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November 16, 2006

A student reviews a web-based class

In the November 2006 newsletter of the STC UK chapter, Mark Buffery of Salford Translations writes about his experience with the web-based version of our XML and Structured Authoring class.

The course consists of 4 half-day sessions (approximately 2 hours in length each), and is presented as a web-based meeting with all participants in direct communication with one another through a telephone conference call. This enables the tutor to field any questions raised during their presentations, as and when they are raised. Once logged on, each participant can view the tutor’s screen in real-time as they demonstrate and talk them through the various functionalities being discussed. This was the first time I had ever attended a webinar, and I was not sure just how effective this would be.

I firmly believe that, in theory, classroom training is better than web-based training. The trouble is that classroom training is also much more expensive than web-based training. Typically, the cost of travel (at least) doubles the basic tuition expense, and when you take into account the time spent traveling to and from the training site, costs are even higher. Web-based training allows you to fit the training into your regular workday. You do miss out on the many delights of the airport security line, but I think you can probably manage to contain your disappointment.

Being in direct vocal contact over the telephone was useful, and a better compromise than I had imagined (being used to the more traditionally reciprocal teaching environment of the classroom or lecture theatre). However, once we had been online for a few minutes, it did not seem so strange.

If you’re considering this or other courses with Scriptorium, please read his article for an overview of how things work from the student’s point of view.

One common question that Mark does not touch on is class times. Our commitment to our students is that we will make every attempt to schedule the class so that class meetings are during regular business hours for each student. Most often, that results in an 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. meeting at our local time (U.S. East Coast). If we have only East Coast and European students, we move the time earlier; if participants are west of us, we move the time later. So far, we have not had any participants dial in from east Asia or Australia, but please feel free to sign up and we’ll make sure we meet at a time that’s reasonable for you.