Thanks to the Internet and new technologies, online learning has never been more accessible, efficient, adaptable and fun than in the last few years. There are so many ways to learn remotely from your home, the office, the cafeteria and even while enjoying a picnic outside or traveling across the world. These new technologies provide a wide access to knowledge on every subject and topic available in various formats and options to attend to learners’ diverse learning styles and preferences.
Two of the most popular formats of e-Learning are the webinars and the interactive online lessons in a virtual classroom. At first glance it might seem that both formats provide a similar learning experience, however in reality each of them offers something different and unique that is worth exploring and considering when choosing the best online learning option for yourself or your students.
Webinars and the Interactive Online Lessons – what are they?
The webinars are the online version of the traditional seminars (seminar on the web). They are designed to deliver information to a big audience, usually during live sessions. The format of the webinars is lecture-like with presentations, demonstrations etc with the possibilities for interaction at the end of the session in the form of Q & A, live chat etc.
The Interactive Online Lessons are the online alternative to the traditional lessons held in classrooms They offer a similar learning experience to the in-class lessons including lectures, exercises, activities and ‘students – teacher’ and ‘students – students’ interactions in real time. These interactive online lessons are held in small groups where the activities are based on the teacher – student interaction and peer-to-peer interaction. In most cases students’ engagement is better in smaller groups.
What are the similarities between the Webinars and the Interactive Online Lessons?
Usually both formats are held during live sessions. Their broadcasting requires a stable internet connection and an online platform where the sessions are streamed. In most cases both formats use similar platforms, like an LMS (Learning management system), and tools for presentations, such as PowerPoint, Live Chat, videoconferencing, recording, etc.
What are the main differences between Webinars and Interactive Online Lessons?
Both formats provide a great environment for online learning that suits different styles, needs and preferences.
Webinars are amazing tools for training sessions, marketing strategies and launching of new products, presenting new information and concepts, etc. They are designed to reach a large audience during live sessions. They are one of the most accessible tools for online learning that provide summarized information quickly and efficiently.
The format of the webinar is usually lecture-based. The presenter speaks on a predefined topic and uses multiple features of their choice to provide an engaging and interesting learning session for the participants. Webinars are suitable for small or large groups, depending on the purpose of the presentation.
Pros of webinars
- Focused deliverance of information
The limited interaction between the lecturer and the participants creates the possibilities for the presenter to plan the webinar in detail and focus on the presentation without distractions.
- Webinars are great learning tools when people are looking for summarized training and information they can get in one session
- Webinars are very effective when attending live as well as when watching in replay
They are awesome learning tools for asynchronous studying
- Webinars are tremendous learning solutions for shy students who prefer more passive approaches to studying with less live interaction.
- Webinars are designed to reach large groups of people simultaneously in real time.
Cons of Webinars
- Very limited interaction
- The sessions are not adaptable to different learning styles. They depend on the lecturer’s style, pace and preferences.
- Activities are limited to presentations and demonstrations
- Limited possibilities for getting feedback or performing assessments
The Interactive Online Lessons are designed to bring all the benefits of the traditional lessons in class plus more. Learning sessions are held in virtual classrooms where the teacher and students interact in real time and participate in various learning activities including hands-on experiences.
The main difference between the Interactive Online Lessons and the Webinars is in the level of interaction. Online lessons are designed to work with a small group of people – usually less than 20 students similar to the traditional classes in school. The format of the online lessons includes interaction in real time between the teacher and the students and between the students themselves.
Pros of Interactive Online Lessons:
- Live interaction and hands on activities
- The lessons provide a flexibility for the teacher to adapt the learning material and the activities to students’ learning styles, skills and progress
- Countless possibilities for various activities including working in groups, collaborations, brainstorming sessions and many more
- In depth knowledge – lessons provide the opportunity to dive deep into concepts, subjects and topics
- Collaborative learning – The interactive online lessons are held in small groups which encourages students’ engagement in the process as well as the interaction between the teacher and the students, the communication between the students in class, and fosters collaboration in different team work activities
- The interaction in real time encourages students’ creativity and increases their engagement
- The virtual classroom offers a wide range of features for interactive learning and using multimedia, games, the online whiteboard and the breakout rooms for the most fulfilling learning experience
- Feedback in real time
- Possibilities for including tests and assessment for better gauging of students’ progress
- Online lessons are wonderful tools for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.
Cons of Interactive Online Lessons
- Learning in small groups. The audience is more limited than the webinars.
- Online lessons are more susceptible to distractions
- They are more difficult to plan and predict, because the pace of the lesson depends on students’ engagement and progress.
Webinars and Interactive Online Lessons play important roles in virtual learning and training. They are incredible tools for effective presentation of information, explaining concepts, training, etc. Each of the formats offers unique advantages for the learners. Depending on the topics and the purpose of the training sessions, webinars and online lessons can be used together to provide the most fulfilling learning experience for the students.