It seems that eLearning is the new normal – at least for now. As a learner, this means you may be immersed in a new format that is very different from a traditional, in-person classroom environment. Both in-person and online training have their own unique advantages, and you’ll likely be engaging in both over the course of your career. As a result, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with online training sooner rather than later!
How Live Online Training Works
Online courses often use the same video conferencing software that you may use at work – Zoom, ON24, Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, etc. This is essentially your home during an online course.
Your training provider or school will invite you to join a group, and your instructor will start each class with a video/audio conference call. You’ll be able to hear your instructor and view slide decks or their shared screen as they demonstrate tasks. In many ways, this mirrors what your instructor would do in an in-person class using a projector, smartboard or the like.
With live online training, you generally have the opportunity to communicate with your instructor and fellow classmates through the chat box and access files that your instructor shares. Your instructor may mute everyone’s microphones or disable webcams so students can focus on the lecture but then turn these features on during discussions.
Most online classes are shorter than physical classes to ensure that everyone stays alert. The remaining time is used for discussion or for students who want individual help.
After the class is over, your instructor will likely share a recording so you can watch the class again as needed. Tests and quizzes may be performed using video conferencing software or a learning management system (LMS).
What to Do Immediately Before Your First Online Class
Before your class starts, you’ll want to do a few things to get the most out of the experience:
- Free up your bandwidth. Unplug your Google Home, Amazon Echo or other virtual assistant and ask your family members to unplug from online games or streaming services to guarantee internet bandwidth during your session.
- Test your audio. You may need to enable audio in your conferencing software and operating system or adjust the levels. If you have a microphone, turn down the volume on your speakers to a lower level to prevent an audio feedback loop that lowers the quality.
- Get a notepad ready. Paper notetaking is still valuable during online training, as it allows you to summarize key details that you find valuable. It’s also an easy way to make note of questions you’d like to ask your instructor later.
- Take a bathroom break. This is pretty self-explanatory – prepare for your class as if you’re going on a long car ride.
- Connect to your session 5 minutes early. This allows you to resolve any last-minute connection and audio issues and ensure you don’t miss any important information at the beginning of the class.
A little IT training humor – don’t be John:
Instructor: Glad you could join us, John.
John: Sorry for being late – the traffic was horrendous.
Instructor: John, this is an online class.
John: Yes, yes, it was network traffic.
Live Online Training Etiquette and Other Tips
If you’ve never attended an online class, you’ll learn what to do and what not do to pretty quickly. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your virtual experience:
- Note and adhere to your instructor’s rules of engagement. Your instructor will let you know how and when you can interact during an online course to ensure that everyone has a good online experience. For example, in larger classes your instructor may request that you do not enable your microphone or webcam, and wait for designated times to ask questions.
- Use online course etiquette. The same rules that apply in a physical classroom environment also apply online. Don’t make comments in the text chat that would be considered inappropriate.
- Dress for a physical class. If your computer has a webcam, there’s always the chance you may accidentally share your video, and your whole class could see you on their screens. Make sure you are presentable.
- Don’t be afraid to participate. As with any class, the more you participate with your instructor and classmates, the more you’ll get out of the class. And participating online is much easier than participating in a physical classroom environment because everyone has the opportunity to add to the chat box.
- Communicate with your instructor. Let them know if you are unable to attend class – either because of technical difficulties or traditional absence. If you’re having technical difficulties, they may be able to help you quickly or forward your issue to tech support for assistance. And if you have to miss a class, your instructor can send you information and a link to the recording of class so you can catch up.
- After the class, review the session video and any notes. This will allow you to consolidate key concepts as well as prepare questions that you can ask during the next session.
As we all shift our routines to accommodate for distance learning, these tips and tricks will not only help you get the most from your online training, but they may even help you at work. The etiquette associated with online learning holds true for virtual meetings as well. Do you homework, be prepared and get ready to learn from home.
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