If you had asked me 10 years ago if I had any plans of offering wine courses online, I would have called you crazy. Back then it was standard to offer classroom wine courses where students were taught about both the theory and the tasting of wine. As I believe goes for many subjects that are currently widely taught online, I would have never believed it even possible to study wine through distance learning.
Needless to say, I have changed my opinion 180 degrees and now mainly see the benefits of online learning. External factors, like the pandemic, but also the wish for a better life-work balance and more flexibility in free time have contributed to the creation and exponential growth of online wine study. That’s why, when WSET launched the Online Classroom, I was immediately on board.
Let’s first have a look at the advantages of online wine study. I will then explain you how the WSET Online Classroom, the online platform on which our WSET courses are offered, works.
What are the benefits of studying wine online?
– No travels, no driving (see also Enjoy wine)
After a long day’s work, you don’t have to find a babysitter and rush to class. Also there is no need to spit out every sip you take.
– Study any time
Some days or weeks require more of your attention at work or home. Manage your own schedule and study in the quieter moments.
– Study anywhere
As long as you have your mobile device with you, you are not bound by space. Take advantage of the lost hours commuting to work or the time waiting in airports.
– Study at your own pace
Take more time if you need it or work ahead.
– Enjoy wine
Invite friends over to finish the bottles of the wines you tasted for your wine course. Remember, the best way to learn is to teach!
– Mentor at your disposal
You have the opportunity to interact with a WSET certified educator. Use the weekly live zoom sessions or the chat function, if you have any doubts or questions.
– Be social or not
You can interact with students worldwide using the chat and forum. Or you can keep a low profile and not mingle at all. It’s totally up to you.
– Fully online
The WSET Level 1 and 2 courses can be fully completed online without having to leave your house, including the exam.
– Materials home delivered
Even the materials, like the study pack and optional tasting kit (a set of wine samples called Vinottes), will be delivered to your door step.
How does the WSET Online Classroom work?
– Each course has a set start and finish date, with clear guidelines on progression. The course duration for Level 1, 2 and 3 are 4, 5 and 9 weeks respectively.
– There are no fixed times to log-on. Since there is no ‘live’ delivery of content, you decide when to study.
– The learning management system used for the WSET Online courses is Canvas. A very user-friendly application that offers a variety of tools.
– You will learn through a range of activities: videos of wine regions, recorded wine tasting tutorials, wine quizzes, recommended reading, independent and/or group assignments and discussion groups.
– You are guided by a WSET tutor, who’ll provide feedback on any assigned exercises and respond to course-related queries. You can contact the tutor any time for the duration of the scheduled course. The tutor also organizes weekly live chat sessions.
– The courses are completed with a theory exam, which for Levels 1 and 2 can either be taken by computer via Remote Invigilation or in-person on location (Little Big Wines organizes the exams in Eindhoven).
– The Level 3 exam also includes a blind-tasting of two wines, meaning that it has to be sat in-person.
– For Level 3 you are required to attend a tasting calibration session to prepare well for the tasting exam (both the tasting session and exam take place in Eindhoven).
Aren’t there any downsides to studying wine online, you might wonder.
Well, there is one important factor that might be an issue for some of us wine lovers. Online learning requires a lot of self-motivation. Regular access and participation in the course online activities is essential for this way of study.
I do wonder what wine education will look like 10 years from now. Will we be longing for old-fashioned classroom courses? Or will we be learning about wine using super futuristic technological gadgets?
For now let us just enjoy the advantages of online learning with a delicious glass of wine next to our keyboard.