One of the most enjoyable aspects of tutoring our courses are the live “vivas” – a chance for DeeAnna and I to talk individually to each of our students. These talks, held over the telephone, through a videolink, or in a chat room, take place twice during our larger trainings – once at the end of the Foundational Course in CyberCulture and then again on completion of the written work in the Specialist Certificate portion.
We used to call them “oral examinations”, but that seemed very formal for what is essentially a check-in to ensure the learning is being taken on board, to clear up any misunderstandings about the work, and to clarify any parts that may be unclear or need further unpicking. It is also a chance for us to exemplify our message that communication is at the heart of all we do – whether in a learning environment or working with the clients we serve. To truly model our belief that communication is communication whatever technology we use (including those chairs Douglas Adams talked about), moving away from the written feedback we give at the end of every lesson towards the live conversation and back again allows the concept of the importance of blending technologies to emerge.
But what I really love about these conversations is hearing how the learning is being applied to each student’s work environment – whether a therapist, coach, support worker or other human wellbeing professional. This gives us a chance to drill down into how the student can take the learning forward, not only for their own ongoing development but for the good of the clients and the wider profession. I can get flavours of this through our ongoing written dialogue throughout the course, where the ideas the student has take hold and start blossoming – but it is the live conversation that allows not just the brainstorming part between two people, but also the infectious enthusiasm we both get as those ideas start to be fleshed out. There is nothing more satisfying than to hear the course content come to life when the student finds their niche – recent examples have been around how to reach and serve the suicidal client better, the use of blogging for co-education for senior Supervisors, the creation of a virtual gallery for those interested in showcasing art therapy techniques, and how best to de-stigmatise mental health services for children and young people.
The students on our courses are the pioneers of the profession. Sure, we give them the tools to work effectively and ethically online, and I honestly applaud any practitioner who seeks the training so necessary to do so (whether they are trained with us and the Online Therapy Institute or not).
But it is hearing the spark igniting the fuse towards meaningful ground breaking online work as each student applies the technology that makes my day during these vivas. Fostering that spark and helping to turn it into a realistically better way to be present for our colleagues and clients in any therapeutic field is intensely satisfying for us as tutors and mentors. It’s simply a privilege to see how our courses can startle a new thought into action for each and every student who joins us.