In our society of infinite conveniences, one-on-one connections are increasingly lost as we become more reliant on technology.
Of course, it is easier to jump in front of a computer and quickly look for the information we seek, all without leaving the comfort of our home, or our pajamas.
Over the years a vast amount of online workshops have become available to Pilates teachers anywhere in the world. This is of great benefit to teachers that do not have access to workshops in close proximity, or the funds to travel to study and expand their skills.
However, it begs the question, how do we maximize our learning potential through online workshops to make sure we are still getting the most benefit?
We work every day with live bodies right in front of us.
We make personal connections with our clients, and we make positive changes because of this physical contact.
Is this lost in the online learning environment?
Of course, experiential in-person learning is directly applicable to this one-on-one connection as the student has direct access to other students and the course instructor to observe the concept being discussed in a real-lifePilat moving body. Lesley, a Pilates Teacher in Monterey, CA says: “What is present in a live course and lacking in online courses is “aliveness”. The live interaction of teacher to students, and student-to-student is the essential difference and that makes all the difference”.
But let’s admit, times have changed…A LOT in the last year.
You could say that online workshops forfeit some of this hands-on applicability as the student is exposed only to a 2-dimensional form as the teacher demonstrates the concept on-screen, or through pictures illustrating the example.
But, Educators have figured out how to make this work just as well as in-person training with amazing technology, better visuals, more experiential exploration, and ways to ensure the message has been received.
There are many different forms of learning, and each of us learns differently. One source indicates 7 different styles of learning, and each may indicate a preference toward participation in in-person experiential or online workshops. Below is a summary of these learning styles, and whether the needs are met for each style with online or in-person workshops.
It has been proven that experiential learning in fact accelerates learning and mastery of a skill. As stated in The Benefits of Experiential Learning, “The act of practicing a skill strengthens the neural connections in our brain, making us, in effect “smarter.” Hands-on activities require practice, problem-solving, and decision-making. As student engagement increases through these processes, learning accelerates and retention improves.”
Learning in-person does require and encourages significantly more engagement than when learning from a computer. In online workshops, oftentimes, we observe but don’t participate (sometimes we may not even observe due to distractions pulling us from the task at hand), and we do not have the additional stimuli of other human bodies with which to practice.
In 2018, I polled the Pilates industry on social media about their preferences of online versus in-person workshops. Of the 84 respondents, 92% found greater value in in-person experiential workshops over online workshops. When asked why they prefer one over the other, some of the benefits they stated for live experiential learning include:
- Comradery and a sense of community among fellow teachers – this allows you to expand your network, resources, and support within the Pilates industry
- Connection to the teacher trainer and the ability to tap into their knowledge through questions
- Discussion and sharing of applicable experiences – we learn more from the examples of others, and from the reasoning that accompanies discussion than from the workshop content alone.
- Honing of kinesthetic skills through touch and observation practice.
In regard to online workshops, here are some of the benefits noted:
- Convenience if travel and monetary outlay are not possible
- Useful for theory-only workshops where the student is seeking information versus hands-on learning
In these days of Zoom-ing, and now after teaching 4 Pilates Certification programs and over 30 con ed courses online over the last year, I can confidently say that all of the benefits listed for in-person learning, can easily be achieved through well-thought-out course delivery in the online environment.
And students are grateful to have this opportunity to continue their education.
When it comes to teacher training and keeping your skills up-to-date, finding time to attend workshops can be difficult especially when it involves travel. There is great value in being with people, seeing them move in 3 dimensions, and touching bodies to readily feel the effects of the concepts you are learning, but this can all be achieved online just as effectively with a little planning and resourcefulness.
Regardless of the setting, learning in a group generates discussion, inspires questions, and allows students to share their own first-hand teaching experiences. Lesley further shared about her experience with BOTH formats: “The opportunity to work with other teachers brings all of our clients’ bodies as well as our own (with injuries, aches, and pains) into the room to “round table” ways to move better”.
When looking for training opportunities, ask yourself these questions:
- How do I best learn concepts (learning style)?
- What is the structure of the workshop (theory, practical)?
- What is my goal for attending this workshop (information, strategies to use with clients)?
- What is the value of the course content and what will be gained from the experience?
- Will I get the answers I need?
- Are there opportunities available for me to make attendance possible?
In the end, any education is better than none, and regardless of the method, there is something valuable that will be learned.
Good luck with your future learning!
Interested in finding convenient and accessible ways to continue your learning and add valuable and applicable skills to help your students move better? Click HERE to check out the Body Harmonics Primary Specialist Certificate programs. All Movement Professionals are welcome.
Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-NCPT
Director of US Operations, Body Harmonics Pilates & Movement Institute
Studio Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
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