You Teach Wine Online?
March 3, 2012 7 Comments
Many of my colleagues- and most of my friends – find it quirky that I teach wine classes online. Just about every time the subject comes up, I get asked, point-blank, “How does that work”? The simple answer is that I teach an academic, theory-based professional wine studies course…not the type of wine tasting class one might take at the local wine bar.
Of course, most people still don’t get it. However, I can tell you that online wine courses are big business. Over the past five years I have taught up to three online wine courses at a time, each worth three college credits and lasting between six and eleven weeks, and they’ve all been full, most with a waiting list of students eager to join.
The basics of my online wine class, like all the other online classes I teach, revolves around reading, online chats, individual and group assignments, and discussion forums. Here is a typical week worth of classroom assignments and activities:
- Two or three chapters of assigned reading in a text book or other assigned readings.
- Two or three “online chats” which resemble the “webinars” that most of us are familiar with. I design the visuals, provide a lecture, and using teleconferencing or the platform’s chat function, create an interactive classroom for about an hour at a time (it’s exhausting). These are recorded and available for viewing on the online class platform.
- One or two discussion forums where I post a discussion topic and students can, over the course of the week, post their ideas and opinions. Facilitiating an online discussion is certainly a learned skill.
- An individual or group written assignment. Feedback on written assignments in a online classroom is paramount, and assignment-specific rubrics need to be designed and made available to students at the beginning of class.
Ok, I still know what you are thinking…”but how do you teach wine online”? In this type of class, it is not about tasting (although it can be done, more on that at a later date). To give you a better idea of how this works, here are some examples of discussion forum topics I have used in teaching wine online.
Discussion forum topic: A customer in your fine dining restaurant orders the following three-course meal: Scallop Ceviche with Candied Jalapeno, Roast Pork Loin with Apricot Glaze served with Couscous and Grilled Asparagus, followed by a cheese plate with Gorgonzola, Brie, and Manchego Cheeses. Your customer is dining alone, and would like you to suggest one bottle of wine that would go well with all three courses. What wine would you recommend to him and why?
Discussion forum topic: A customer in your wine bar has just “discovered” Chianti and it is his “new favorite wine”. He requests a glass of Chianti, but you do not carry Chianti, or any Sangiovese-based wine for that matter. What wine would you recommend to him and why? Be sure and describe the attributes that your chosen wine has in common with Sangiovese-based wine, how it differs from a Sangiovese-based wine, and what it is about this wine that you feel would appeal to your customer.
Discussion forum topic: You are the food and beverage director of a large resort hotel. You are holding a training session for six new servers and are discussing the wine list. One of your new recruits is surprised that your wine list includes a large selection of rosé. She wrinkles her nose and says something like “that’s what my mom drinks – it’s like Kool-Aid! I thought this was a fancy place”! How would you address her comment?
Stay tuned later this week for further discussion of teaching wine online, including examples of individual and group project assignments. In the meantime, if you have any questions about online teaching, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org