In a previous blog post, I spoke about the benefits of online training and why you might consider it as a viable option for taking a hands-on training class. In this post, I’m going to provide some tips, showing you how to get the most of your online training class.
I have delivered many online events as an instructor and attended several as an attendee. I have also been a producer for Learning Tree, helping online attendees get the most of the class they are attending online.
You don’t need super-fast fiber broadband to attend a training class online, but your internet connection should be able to cope with audio and visual streaming. To ensure that you have a workstation set up with all that you need to attend the course online, run through the pre-course evaluation and checks. It’s very important to validate in advance to ensure you have a 100% quality experience. It will allow you to work through any issue before the class starts and you don’t waste class time trying to fix any technical issues. But, if any problem does occur, you will have that same live team of technical experts to help orient you during the course.
One of the benefits of taking a course online is that you can take the course from anywhere, using AnyWare! Whilst I joked about taking a class from the beach and drinking Margaritas in the afternoon break in my previous post, you do want to learn and get the most out of your course. I generally prefer a quiet room with no distractions so I can concentrate fully on what is being said. How you learn will differ from how I learn, so set the environment up to best suit your needs — do try to avoid distractions.
A couple examples of what I would call bad environments, not conducive to learning (these are real examples of students who entered a class of mine):
One of the key criteria in making online attendees feel part of the class is two-way communications. Completing the daily audio check will ensure that the audio/sound settings are setup optimally for you, including the sound level on your microphone and headphone volumes.
Often, especially with the more technical courses, online attendees will sit and listen, but leave their mic off, say it is not working, or they can’t get it to work. One of the key benefits of live training is the ability ask questions and engage with your instructor. Using a microphone will help this engagement. It will also help you engage with the rest of the class too.
You might know the answer to a question somebody in class asks, and you can share with everyone. One of the key observations instructors make when teaching online attendees is interaction with the online attendees is more difficult. You can help this by using your microphone.
This is perhaps not as important as a two-way microphone. Although for some courses, the camera is very helpful. Even if it’s not a requirement, it allows your classmates get to see you which helps put a face to the voice and more likely to include you in discussions.
Again, this is not essential — you can still take a course with one monitor. However, having two monitors will improve your experience. You can have the AnyWare classroom setup on one monitor and the lab/VM/Whiteboard on another.
It will make working with the class and labs a very simple process without having to change the windows being displayed on the screen, and you can keep an eye on both at the same time.
Having your microphone setup is important, but also knowing how the AnyWare system works will help you.
For example, use the chat if you have a simple question that doesn’t need to be answered right away — your instructor will get back to you, or someone else online might also respond. If your question is urgent, you can combine the chat with the ‘chime in’ button to get the instructors attention. You can also reply to questions that instructors ask using the vote button, and use the raise hand button if you need help.
Getting involved with the class allows the instructor to understand you better, as well as help build interactions. It also ensures the person teaching the class that the course is everything you need to make you more effective when you go back to work.
Also, if you step away from the console — maybe your phone has rung, a parcel has been delivered, or someone has stolen your car and the police have just arrived (true story) — set your status to away. The instructor will know you’re not there and won’t try to interact with you or ask you questions.
I have said the importance of turning on your microphone and now I’m telling you to mute it. “Make your mind up Ellis!” I can hear you scream at me. Have the microphone set up and ready to go, and then mute it unless you have something to say.
Most microphones have a handy little mute button on the device itself, or you can mute it in the console. It will improve the sound for everyone, and it will mean we won’t hear you arguing with your spouse on the phone or overhear phone calls from the office. I think the professor here wished he had a mute button and an off switch.
Last in my list, but not least — in fact, it’s the most important — the key to getting the most out of instructor-led training is to listen, learn, do, and then ask questions. Questions will allow you to tailor the material to ensure that you can apply what you learn to your own environment.
Do this regularly throughout the course. Don’t leave your questions until the last day. Ask them when they are relevant to the material. Trust me, your instructor will be happy to answer your questions and I suspect the answers will help other people in the course too.
Most of my points about how to get the most of your online training course relate to creating an environment that allows you to attend a class online by allowing you to listen, learn, and the ask questions.
Asking questions is the key whether this is through your microphone audio, the text chat pod, or Morse code. Ask questions to use the knowledge of your instructor, and the rest of your classmates to help apply what is being taught in your own environment.