Learning by Training ; going online



Thanks to advanced information and communication technology, people all over the world can see and talk to each other, aided by cameras and microphones, online. The Covid-19 global travel restrictions have boosted the use of online interactions such as meetings, education and training beyond expectation, raking in billions for those entrepreneurs who offer the best software.

Whilst this seems a great and gratifying solution to save humanity, the planet and nature, there are some flaws in thinking that through technology we can stay educated and informed, because we have to fly less, drive less and can work from home. Sure, to stay home and train people all over the world has its advantages, but somehow it is not the same. When I see students on my computer screen, talk to them and show them a Power Point presentation, it just seems too boring. No laughs, fewer remarks, less discussion, because first of all we can’t see and feel the whole group is real because they are only virtually with us. This makes the quality of the lessons suffer from isolation and, I may even conclude, less humane.

The humane value of talking to a group of people who are sitting together (without social distance or facemasks) is being underestimated because after all we are social beings needing compassion, friendship, respect, love. These conditions for survival, in my view, can’t be reproduced by technology. On the contrary, dehumanisation through the internet may prove to be detrimental to our continued existence and should not be our goal, but merely a temporary means.

Over the last few months I have trained online in about ten different countries and must also admit that it works, but not as well as teaching in classrooms where I can read people’s faces, sense they have a question or understand that my reasoning is baffling them by their body language. This of course hinders building a teacher/student relationship. It does not work as it does in the classroom: perhaps a student wants to tell me something but he can’t find the words and I won’t notice this because I can only see his face and not his expression by means of a tiny and limited computer camera.

Therefore, I do believe that despite the enormous growth in online training and education availability, it is but a transitory necessity and not something that global communities should pursue. At this time I am experimenting on how to improve my online trainer/student interaction, but I haven’t been able to figure it out just yet. During my courses I show them slides, documents, even short films about shipping or storage, but being there, for example on a tanker or actually in an oil terminal, certainly enhances the value of education, because after all, a virtual reality is like a surreality, which then depends on the perception of such a reality through a camera or microphone, which will be filtering it, perhaps causing confusion. I will be doing my best to train those who are open to learning as a human being.

This is the latest in a series of articles by Arend van Campen, founder of TankTerminalTraining. More information on the company’s activities can be found at www.tankterminaltraining.com. Those interested in responding personally can contact him directly at arendvc@tankterminaltraining.com.


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