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24 D+C Vol.42.2015:1 open online courses (MOOCs), completely automated distance learning and so on. There is a sense of opti- mism in the industry, and the number of solutions and learning platforms is expanding so fast that it is hard to keep track (see box, p. 23). However, it takes tailor-made approaches to improve the impact of workshops. What began in the seminar room con- tinues in virtual reality with the same participants. The sense of continuity inspires trust. Lasting relationships People who know their colleagues personally and share the experience of valuable mutual criticism are not afraid to post their work online. Moreover, partici- pants who know each other deliver feedback with greater sensitivity. They are also more open to sugges- tions. The continuity of the relationships matters. And so does interactivity. The main advantage of e-learn- ing is that the group, including the instructors, can share ideas after an attendance phase has ended. Staying in touch is lively and fun. In regard to journal- istic exercises, moreover, all participants benefit from interactive feedback. Success depends less on the specifics of the digital platform than on whether instructors want to use the platform and understand how to do so. If instructors approach e-learning half-heartedly because they just see it as annoying extra step, participants will not fully engage either. Indeed, the instructors must consider the blended-learning approach with face-to-face and online phases as an integrated whole. E-learning is hard work. The approach requires instructors’ atten- tion and hours of work. Time and money are needed. If either is in short supply, the work that was begun in the face-to-face seminar will not continue online in any meaningful way. Therefore, blended-learning courses do not cost less money than conventional ones. Their advantage is that they are more effective. The quality of the feedback is essential. Instruc- tors must deliver it sensitively, precisely and honestly. Such care is especially important online because in- structors cannot react to participants on the spot when using an e-learning platform. They cannot see if their criticism has upset trainees or even caused tears to flow, and they cannot spontaneously modify their remarks accordingly. Utter sensitivity is required par- ticularly when feedback is made visible to all course participants. The process of assigning exercises and providing feedback can be repeated multiple times online. Par- ticipants complete assignments on their computers whilst keeping up with other personal and profession- al obligations. A great advantage of e-learning is that it lets participants log on at home and work their own pace. It allows people to reconcile their desire for fur- ther education with their other duties concerning family or employment. The important thing is to add e-learning phases to face-to-face workshops in order to help students make full use of what they learn and incorporate it into their daily routines. People who spend a month acquiring new skills and ideas are certainly more likely to apply them consistently than those who are only exposed to a week of training. Werner Eggert is the founder and director of the Interlink Academy for Dialog and Journalism. He accepts assignments as consultant and instructor. His achievements include the planning and implementation of blended-learning projects for Bertelsmann, the media corporation. [email protected] academy Networking matters – course participants share lunch in Accra. Dembowski