Last semester (Spring 2012), I worked on a collabortive project with students in my International Technical Communication class (Minnesota State University, Mankato) along with students from the German university Hochschule Karlsruhe – Technik und Wirtschaft (Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences). I met with my German counterparts throughout the semester and my Mankato-based team completed a project that documented webinar best practices for online learning and collaboration.
Introduction to the report
With the increasingly global nature of business and education, both have been challenged with adapting current models to facilitate learning to accommodate diverse and globally located audiences.
From the business perspective, webinars are an inexpensive, quick way to reach out to users and employees while still maintaining a semblance of personal contact—using a webinar’s video component, this face-to-face (F2F) capability of a webinar allows for collaboration and interaction among the webinar’s participants. This is preferable to a ‘static’ recording or pre-recorded tutorial that is ‘mass produced’ with a general audience in mind (for example, “customers” or “employees”) but cannot compare to the personal aspect that a webinar has.
For education, an example of one pedagogical proponent of webinar and F2F technology is the social constructivist pedagogy. The constructionist pedagogy believes that for true learning to occur, students need to experience knowledge outside of their individual framework and this concept is advanced by “collaborative learning”, which Bruffee defines as “a process that constitutes fields or disciplines of study. Collaborative learning is based on the rationale that the task of learning to think and write as a knowledgeable peer is not solely an individual and mental endeavor but instead occurs through interaction” (Thralls and Blyler 1993, 251).