Is a webinar best for me? What is a virtual classroom?

By Adam Baudelaire

Your questions answered about eLearning options for professional development.  

With new online learning options available in the Interpreting and translation industry, it’s important to understand the differences and opportunities that online learning offers. 

It can be confusing to understand what online learning means, when it comes to earning the appropriate Personal Development (PD) points and staying current as a translator or Interpreter.

Though face to face seminars are sometimes an excellent option for keeping up to date, they are not always convenient. In our busy lives we often don’t have the time to attend a seminar and so online learning or eLearning plays a part in our ability to stay up to date; not only with our minimum requirements, but for real learning opportunities.

With new offerings from the Australian Centre for Translators & Interpreters (ACTI) coming on the market, it’s helpful to be aware what is on offer.

A young man and a a young woman work at the computer discussing a problem


Is convenient because it can be done anytime. There are no deadlines, no order of work, you just log-in and do the learning when you are ready. You can even pause and return to the training later and the training will be where
you left it. This is particularly helpful if you find yourself with only 15 minutes here and there to do training. Perhaps on the train on the way to work.

Certificates are issued by email usually, when you have completed the training. The resource remains available to you so you can go back to it for exercises.


These are more like events or traditional seminars in that they usually occur at a set time (live). The format is similar also to a seminar, with a presenter talking to a (virtual) audience. They are convenient in that you don’t have to leave your home to ‘attend’ but you must be available at the specific time to do the training and have the technology prepared so that you are ready for the session and are able to participate. They can be excellent if delivered in a virtual classroom manner, where there is a two way learning interaction, but more often, they are merely presentation style with a few questions at the end. Sometimes they are available after the fact as a recording.

Virtual classroom

A virtual classroom is an excellent learning experience if done really well. They can include breakout rooms, live tasks, polls and other activities. There should be the opportunity for learners to feedback into the session. A ‘flipped classroom’ scenario has the student sent the actual theory prior to the class so that the class can be used for interactive discussion and practice.

Compressed learning / offline learning

These are other terms you may hear. They refer to methods of delivering eLearning. Compressing learning can be very effective. Many lectures take a lot of time to get to the actual learning outcomes. Some companies ‘distil’ this information into bite sized pieces so that they can be delivered in just a few minutes. If the legislation supports this approach (the safety industry for instance, does not) then this can be highly effective.

Ever been trying to complete something on your phone and you lose signal? Or perhaps your home Wifi cuts out when you are watching a video? Offline learning downloads all the learning materials first so that you carry them with you. Your results are stored until you next have an internet connection. The software then uploads your results to the learning management system.

About the author: Adam Baudelaire runs the Australian Centre for Translators and Interpreters. He has a 22 years experience training adults and works with Masters level Translators and Interpreters to produce online content the T & I industry. With qualifications in Social Psychology and Gamification for online learning, Adam is passionate about cross cultural communication, social justice and the potential of eLearning to add value to learners.


TAGS: eLearning | Webinar | Virtual classroom | Compressed Learning | Offline Learning | Professional Development

Published: 29/01/2018