And no matter how busy you may be, one thing is certain: it’s important to continue your education so that you can continue to learn and grow. Employees or potential employees must stay up to speed on their area of expertise so they can add value on the job. So, ongoing training is essential; yet it is another big consumer of your valuable work and personal time. Who has the time, or money, to take off from work for several days to go to class? Even if you can do, get into a traditional face-to-face course, if you are extremely busy at work, inevitably, your training will be interrupted by work responsibilities, thus making the training much less
Tips to Make Your Online Training Experience a Good One
For live online training to be a valuable experience, the participant must make a commitment to the training. It is very, very easy to get distracted during training, thus negating the benefits of the online experience. Virtual training can be an excellent option for continuing education but only if the student decides to make the most of his or her training experience. The following tips can ensure you have an excellent virtual training experience.
- Test your connection a day or two before the first class session. This is so simple to do yet is seldom done. Make sure you have a smooth start to class by verifying your connection a day or two early; don’t wait to sign in for the very first time 5 minutes before the class starts.
- Get in early to every session. It is extremely distracting to the instructor and to other
participants when a student joins a session late; especially during the first session when people are meeting each other and getting to know the technology. Be courteous and get into class 5-10 minutes early every session. Your instructor will appreciate your effort and you’ll be more mentally prepared for class.
- Make sure you have a working headset. There may be nothing more distracting in a virtual training setting than audio problems. Not having a working microphone translates to no participation in class. A microphone that does not work slows the class down and is distracting and irritating to the other participants. It is essential to get a good headset that works. Make sure to test it ahead of time; well before the first class, to make sure all of the appropriate settings are correct.
- Participate! Virtual training requires more effort from the participants. To get the most out of class requires students to make an active effort to participate in class. Nonverbal communication is lost in virtual training so verbal communication becomes that much more important.
- Ask questions to the instructor and to the other participants.
- Share your experiences during class; tell stories.
- Discuss how you can apply the topics covered in class.
- Absolutely no multi-tasking! Self-discipline is the key for successful virtual training. It is so easy to get distracted, to multitask, and to do other things during class. This is, perhaps, the most challenging aspect of virtual training. Shut down all other applications. No e-mail, no messaging, no other work. Do what you have to do so that you can fully concentrate on the class. After all, you are taking the class for a reason. Make the most of the time you have in each virtual session.
- Prepare, read ahead, and review the material before class. If you are prepared, then it is easier to participate in class. Participation is a vital element for successful virtual training. You’ll get more from the materials and it will be easier to see how to apply the concepts if you simply spend some time preparing for each class. Also, make sure you complete any assigned homework. Homework, usually, is an effort by the instructor to help students with the practical application of the material so not doing homework only makes your training less effective.
- Network and make new friends. Part of the uniqueness of virtual training is the variety of people who can attend class at the same time. Virtual training opens up participation from people in different business, different locations and different cultures all over the world. To get the most out of virtual training, participants should network and make new friends. You have a unique chance to get to know people you might otherwise never have the chance to meet. Suggestions:
- Communicate with the instructor – before, during, and after class.
- Make an effort to get to know your fellow classmates.
- Send links, articles, or examples to the class and then discuss during virtual sessions.
Avoid These Typical Online Training Mistakes
The tips listed above will certainly enhance a student’s virtual training experience. In addition to those suggestions are a few mistakes a participant should avoid making.
- Eating during class. Inevitably, you’ll get called on to answer a question and your mouth will be full. No eating during class!
- Not paying attention. When you multitask, it is very hard to pay attention. When a student is asked a question and there is silence or no reply or the student asks the instructor to repeat the question that means the student was simply not paying attention. Busted! Don’t be that guy!
- Not muting your microphone. Hearing background noise, listening to a student eating or typing, or listening to work discussions is not what the rest of the class wants to hear. Make sure your microphone is muted.
- Coming to class unprepared. There is limited time in virtual training sessions. Often reading case studies, for example,
- Silence. For a virtual class to be successful participants must be proactive in terms of participation, raising their hand, and offering their thoughts and opinions. Taking a class and remaining silent is not only doing you a disservice, it is unfair to the instructor and to the class.
Harry Rever is Director of Six Sigma for International Institute for Learning. He has taught hundreds of virtual training classes over the years on a full range of management topics. He is a dynamic presenter and practitioner of Six Sigma and Project Management with an innate ability to teach the concepts of quality improvement in an understandable and more importantly, applicable manner. With over twenty three years as a project manager, process improvement consultant and trainer, Harry has numerous examples of what works (and what doesn’t) when managing projects and applying statistical process improvement concepts. He has experience leading people including supervising project managers, quality analysts, and sales teams. Harry has trained thousands of employees on Six Sigma, process improvement, and project management and he frequently presents at conferences and seminars. He has certifications as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt, Six Sigma Black Belt, Quality Manager, Quality Consultant, and Project Management Professional. Harry earned his MBA from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and has Bachelors degrees in Marketing and Management from Texas Tech University. He is a senior member of ASQ and a member of PMI.