Webinar Induced Sensory Paralysis: All you need to know

An Illustrated Image representing the Webinar (in)action


“Sir, we have a wonderful webinar hosted exclusively for you. This has the latest updates related to COVID-19 and I’m sure you will not get this information anywhere else”

“Sir, since you are not that busy we have come up with an innovative subject which helps to update your knowledge on Cardio-Diabetes”

“This webinar is exclusively for invite-only doctors like you, who want to continue keeping in touch with your patients even during the lockdown. We will teach you about telehealth”

“We will teach you about the webinar and how to access this breakthrough technology”

“We will teach you the ethics of webinar”

“We will teach you how to use a PPE”

We will teach you, engage you, keep you updated, connect you with your peers, entertain you,…… Oh, come on STOP IT!

The pharma seems to be more interested in hosting the webinars than identifying the suitable molecular targets and thus an appropriate vaccine candidate against the novel coronavirus.

On a personal front, this epidemic of Webinars is worse than the COVID-19 pandemic. While the current pandemic kills 2%-5% of those infected, this additional man-made disaster (I still have prejudices that Coronavirus is an Act of Man!) seem to have a higher case fatality rate than the worst of infections ever affected humankind.

The request to attend a webinar has now turned into pesky calls from scamsters. We are left with turning down there at the first hint of understanding it so.

The sensory exhaustion that comes up at the end of a typical webinar, topped with a load full of technical snags, poor/inconsistent video quality issues and honest questions that are best left unanswered by elite panellists leaves one pondering if it was genuinely required for one to attend at all.

Images circulated within the Doctors groups on how they feel about the Webinars

Agreed, that the pharma and its representatives keep us and have kept us updated but what is happening now is that the portal of technology is placed on a higher pedestal over the canvas of trust, relationship and rapport.

The present scenario is creating a brigade of a learning community within the Medical profession, mainly from the younger professionals, who are extremely smart in acquiring knowledge through the digital format and learning skills in a face-to-face format.

And this shift in the learning behaviour is understandable. Let me explain why.

I have seen the pedagogy in the Medical domain evolve over the years. During the formative years of my education in the Medical Schools, the traditional blackboard was sidestepped by the bulky Over Head Projectors (OHPs) as a prominent media used for teaching and learning.

Years later, PowerPoint became a prominent mode of instruction and learning. Of course, I was now teaching in the Medical School. But as the technology metamorphosed by leaps and bounds, the strength in the classes also dwindled. The reason? People believed in on-demand, on the go learning

The challenge is not with the technology. But it is the technique which only repackages centuries-old teaching-learning methods. It’s been close to 1 1/2 decades that the Webinar technology initially entered the market, but there have been no great breakthroughs and even if there was one, it is just on the reach but not any add on features.

Here, I wish to share with you 5 compelling reasons why Webinars is not the best technique, as of yet.

1. There is nothing demanding about on-demand webinars

The major focus of most of the webinars are its speakers and they are usually designed for their comfort. Most of the times even the topics are chosen based on the comfort level of the speakers than those of the participants.

It is also difficult to connect with the speakers during the course of their presentation, thereby seriously compromising discussion and dialogue if at all you go by the true nature of its definition.

2. They catch us off guard

The attention span of 45 minutes was for a face-to-face lecture. Unfortunately, this has been applied directly to the Webinars without much research. I can vouch for this statement since I have undergone a course in Medical Education Technology.

If I have to compare it to a Medical terminology it is like having psychological absence seizures.

3. It’s very transactional

The pace/tone is determined by the content in the PowerPoint than the real-life experiences of the speaker (most of the times). Personally, it just looks like the power points are being flashed right into the face, with the added blue light from the device screens.

4. Conversations are damn serious

And I am serious about it too! If it was the live face-to-face session, I could have always poked my neighbour or give a shout out to my friend sitting in the adjacent rows. And yes, at best also ask direct questions to the speakers.

Therefore, in the true sense, and it is just a screen to face communication and not face to face. Getting to gauge the mood of the speaker is also quite tough and uneasy thereby aborting the unique learning experiences.

5. Doesn’t support activities/exercises

Getting your hands dirty is a key step in acquiring crucial learning experiences. Unfortunately, for the format and the duration, this technology does not support it.

And this is an epiphany!

On a personal front, this technology is a great tool for launching a product. That is akin to launching a trailer of the movie or series on Netflix! Experience is something that can be built, better than for sheer speaker centric knowledge transfer, as is the order of the day. Quite a lot of Indian pharma players have already tried this strategy too.

And if flash death through Webinars was not enough, we came up with more painful and long-standing torture in the form of web(inar) series.

The tenacity of technology is weaker than the comfort of conventional communications and it’s true that technology is mind-blowing. But it must not blow away the rudimentary interests the doctors have in soaking up the extra knowledge. Do remember that most of us still believe in the power of print as most of the doctors believe in scribbling rather than scrolling and this habit is going to die-hard.

What doctors need is evidence and efficacy over experience, Safety over tactics to expand the sensorium.

Too much of too good is too bad, webinars included.

It’s time for a personal and professional makeover for the eternally busy doctors induced by the mother Divine.

Please give us some breathing space !!!
Do not worry, we will wear a mask made at home (No Compliments please) 🙂

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