This is my first experience delivering courses online myself. so to speak. I was involved in the delivery of The Pyramid Group's English for Doctors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil but as an author (hence the 'English for Medical Purposes:Doctors' book) and adviser.
The English for Healthcare Professionals' course on English360 aims to provide both ESP language content but also very specific work-place content e.g. vocabulary for hospital charts, procedures etc.
In a sense, EHP follows on from 'Cambridge English for Nursing' Intermediate Plus whilst also offering materials for medical, pharmaceutical, physiotherapy etc students. This is always the dilemma for ESP writers. How specific should the language be? My view is that there must be a balance between being able to use regular,everyday communication skills (asking for info, giving instructions) with the understanding of the terms needed to convert an everyday conversation to a healthcare conversation.To achieve this, a knowledge of the terms used (medical terminology, acronyms,abbreviations and jargon) is needed. And this is a big area to teach, especially without a medical background!
I remember a great talk given by Cleve Miller of English 360 where he drew a diagram of his view of the best blended learning model. Leave the classroom experience to practice of role plays and spoken English, he said (in essence). Go to a blended option for practice of vocab and grammar. I like this model especially as I feel that classroom teachers seem to be falling lower on the pecking order as we become enamoured with technology. Don't get me wrong - I love the little Xrtanormal videos I've been making lately to complement my online courses. Some of you may have seen them. Despite this, I have two issues with the videos:
1. The language can be a bit clunky and sometimes the pronunciation of terms is a bit off - could be my fault as a novice.
2. There is little, if any, scope to produce non-verbal communication especially culturally based non-verbal communication.I was Skyping with Suzanne Burlage the other day and lamenting this very fact. Suzanne is currently looking at inter-cultural communication in the healthcare setting for a MA in Intercultural communication I met Suzanne at a talk I was giving and we got talking about the amount of training healthcare workers have (or don't have) in cultural sensitivity. I am very interested in this topic having taught Cultural Diversity in Nursing in Australia a few years ago and would love to be able to reflect some of it in my videos. This is where the class-room teacher comes in (or the Skype teacher). Some times you just have to show what you mean, don't you?