12 October 2020 (Monday) - On-Line Parasitology Course

I got to spend the afternoon on a distance-based over-the-internet interactive teaching session today. It’s no secret that I’m not the world’s greatest parasitologist – I was hoping for so much…

The first session was utterly disjointed. There was no structure or plan to it. The speaker spent the first fifteen minutes saying a lot without actually saying anything, and then spent forty-five minutes jumping from one topic to another seemingly at random with absolutely no connection between one sentence and the next. Occasionally the presenter would write on the screen… I say “write” – my six-year-old grandson could scribble neater.

There was then a quiz. We were presented with various pictures. First of all we had to identify the parasite, and then we had to select up to four reasons to support our reasoning. Identifying the parasite was easy - we just had to find the right picture in the accompanying pdf file (!), but justifying our answers wasn't so simple as the questions weren't well worded.

We had a tea break, then the presenter went through the answers. It was rather frustrating to score zero on one answer when having been told to select two of four answers we then found that all four were correct (as we'd thought). We scored eighty-nine per cent on the qiz as a whole (having only lost marks on the arguable reasoning), but I thought it very unfair that the speaker wasn't very constructive in telling people who'd made mistakes that they should not guess if they don't know, and implied that people were stupid for doing so.

And the answer session could have been prepared far better on the software - jumping from screen to screen did not work when we could only see the bottom tenth of the picture to which the speaker was referring.

Having done a post-graduate certificate in distance-based learning a few years ago it struck me that the speaker did pretty much everything I'd been told not to do.

 Mind you it is easy to be negative... and experts in any field are rarely good teachers. In the past I've done sessions like this which have involved taking a day off work, leaving home at silly o'clock, travelling to London at great expense and inconvenience and not getting home till late (having spent much of the day cooped up like a sardine). Distance-based training over thin Internet really is the way forward.

And as an added bonus, doing something like this was one of this year’s appraisal objectives…

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