Online Learning With Oprah

Last Monday on my way home from work I pondered the logistics of Oprah’s online class. Since I did not even register until an hour before the class it’s pretty obvious there is no limit on seats. I wondered how they would manage the chaos of a million people in a single chat session. Not to mention the bandwidth they would need to stream to that many people.

According to Oprah nothing like this has ever been done before. I can see why! What a huge undertaking!

For those of you who did not attend the session and are curious about it here’s how it worked. You register for an account on and sign in about 30 minutes early to claim your seat. There is a quick download of a plugin after that you get to watch commercials until the show begins. Oprah appears in a live Internet broadcast with Eckhardt Tolle. Oprah interviews Tolle and they have a discussion about the book A New Earth. After about 20 minutes a Skype caller asks a question via video. Oprah and Tolle answer it. Every so often another question comes in from the viewers.

As I mentioned in my last post I had trouble accessing the site live as did many others. So I watched the recording the next day. I have not read the book and was not really interested in the content of the class. I was really there to observe how they did it and what the reactions were from the public. So far I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some people who were really interested in the topic enjoyed the conversation. I’d have to say that the experience for me was much like watching an episode of Oprah on TV. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was expecting either. It’s hard for me to be at my computer and stay focused if I am not actively engaged in the learning process…via chatting, whiteboarding, some sort of interaction. As you can see from the screeshot below there is a workbook that you can fill out and the option to talk with others via a message board. Each message board has over 1,000 posts though! So it is a lot to try and keep up with.

If you are participating in the class I’d love to hear comments from you on your experience.

Oprah Online Class

About Lori Reed

Lori Reed, coauthor of Workplace Learning & Leadership: A Handbook for Library and Non-Profit Trainers, is a learning and communication strategist with more than twenty years experience in learning and development. A 2009 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and a 2010 "One to Watch" for paralibrarians, Lori graduated cum laude from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. Lori is a certified Synchronous Learning Expert and a North Carolina Master Trainer and has traveled across North America speaking about libraries and training.

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