In the summer of 2013, in my last term at the University of Calgary, I took a course on E-Learning and wrote a paper on delivering karate lessons using distance education techniques. While I have always maintained that karate should be experienced in the company of others, in person, and face-to-face (I even rant about it here), the paper was an interesting exploration into the possible pedagogical benefits of distance learning.
Flash forward to 2020. My M.Ed. from the UofC hangs proudly on the wall, technology has evolved, and I am now the proud owner/operator of my own Dojo. However, the worldwide phenomenon caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to social/physical distancing, has forced the temporary closure of the (physical) Dojo. And thanks to a government-imposed shutdown (apparently “karate sensei” is not an essential service), I find myself missing teaching, missing my students, and feeling some serious symptoms of karate withdrawal. But it is allowing me to revisit my paper and test its validity.
You can read my paper on E-Learning here1.
Following the example of many of my fellow karate teachers, I have set up a series of lessons delivered through Zoom. And, after applying some of the findings of my own paper, the Dojo went live, online, on March 31. The initial meeting was a great success. Many students turned out for the inaugural Zoom class and feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We have now broken out into smaller, age-specific and content-based meetings that allow me to zero in on the specific needs of each student (as suggested by Fink, 2013).
This is no substitute for in-person training but it does scratch an itch and keeps us engaged. I look forward to the day that we can all get back together in the Dojo to sweat it out. I am also curious to know how many computer monitors will fall victim to a misdirected side kick.
To join our Zoom classes, click here.