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Real learning in the virtual classroom

Published on 19 July 2013
Updated on 05 April 2024

Daniel Beaudoin is a consultant on humanitarian diplomacy and civil-military affairs, as well as a lecturer on humanitarian diplomacy and aid operations at Tel Aviv University. He joined the online diploma course on Humanitarian Diplomacy offered by DiploFoundation and the IFRC in February 2013. In this short interview we asked Daniel for his reflections on the course, as an academic and a professional with experience in the humanitarian diplomacy field.

We know you’ve been working in the field of humanitarian diplomacy for some time now. Did this course contribute something new to your knowledge or skills in this fieldPhoto of Daniel Beaudoin?

Humanitarian diplomacy and the skill set that comes with it form a central part of my humanitarian mediation and civil-military coordination consulting services. Even after more than a decade at the forefront of humanitarian diplomatic activity, I received refreshing and invaluable guidelines and knowledge in this course.

What did you enjoy most about the course?

I was very pleased to be able to communicate with practitioners from around the globe. I am not a ‘Red Crosser,’ and it was interesting to learn from the experiences of these motivated professionals.

In terms of the topics covered, what was the most valuable or useful aspect of the course for you?

The assignments were very practical; for example the advocacy module allowed me to work with other students on a field in which I had relatively little experience. Also, in addition to the negotiation section where one can never learn enough, the course provided me with invaluable insights for my PhD research. And I already can see how the lectures and the weekly readings will assist me in my teaching at Tel Aviv University.

You teach in a traditional university classroom setting, but I understand the online learning experience was new for you. How did you find the online classroom? Was the online learning format interactive? More so, or less so than you expected?

I particularly liked the feeling of the online classroom. I must admit that at the beginning I wasn’t sure how an online classroom could replicate the more traditional form of the face-to-face teaching experience. I am a lecturer at Tel Aviv University in Israel, and more accustomed to this method. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the virtual classroom was in fact very real. The hypertext format allows all of the students to interact on every module with each other as well as with the lecturers, and the resulting dialogue can be traced since it is never deleted; that is really practical if you want to go back to something another student had ‘said’ in the text. The online experience is made possible by the commitment and engagement of the staff, the lecturers and the tutors. They are always around when you need assistance, and spare no effort to guarantee a professional and personal learning process.

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