Rethinking the “Webinar”: Sage on Screen, Guide on Side, or Both?

Reda Sadki Writing

By Donna Murdoch, Ed. D. for The Geneva Learning Foundation A search for the keyword “webinar” on Google reveals over 85 million hits. How do we develop webinars, how do we hold webinars, and how do we engage people during webinars?  The same questions could be asked of lectures, because in most contexts, webinars are a lecture seen and heard through the glass of a screen instead of a cavernous lecture hall.  The literature suggests that lectures do not provide the support and activity learners need to stay engaged.  “Sage on Stage” has been replaced by “Guide on the Side” (King, 1993) in most face to face contexts, or at least the effort is made.  Is the same effort made when there is a screen between the webinar participant and the “sage”? The paragraph below is an excerpt from a 2018 article published by J. Ubah in Advances in Social Science Research. Spaces have been left …

Empty (schnaars/

Why we secretly hate webinars

Reda Sadki Learning strategy

Webinars reproduce the structure and format of the formal training workshop in an online space. The sole positive distinction for participants is that they may now participate from anywhere. However, to ask questions or otherwise contribute requires one to be present at a specific time (synchronously). Recordings of webinars are usually made available, so in theory we may catch up after the event but lose the ability to connect to others… and seldom actually do. If there wasn’t time (or justification) when it happened, that is unlikely to change later. Like the face-to-face workshops they emulate, webinars require us to stop work in order to learn, which we can seldom afford or justify. They are mostly transmissive, as the available tools (Webex, for example) do not facilitate conversation. By default, most facilitators will mute everyone in a conference to avoid an unintelligible cacophony of multiple squawking voices. Despite the existence …