Home checklist when preparing for your Live On-line class

20 March

Training will continue as organizations have to prepare for new rules, regulations, policies and procedures that happen as a result of the unpredicted impacts of Covid-19.  The quicker organizations can pivot to provide solutions and services for what’s to come, the greater value they can gain.

Since training must continue, you must prepare yourself to take a class in a potentially new way, using Live On-line technology.  Although available since the very late 1990’s, Live On-line learning has seen a significant increase in capability and richness over the last few years, especially with the advent of SaaS applications. These applications can be seamless integrated into a Live On-line class to provide an environment just like complicated cloud-based systems at work.

The challenge really isn’t the richness of the technology or the quality of the solution to provide high level interaction, powerful real-world labs, great content, outstanding live instruction and interaction with peers.  The real challenge is being properly prepared to get the most out of the experience. 

Here is a down and dirty checklist to help you be prepared:

Bandwidth: Very simply put, do you have the internet speed to ensure you can hear the class loud can clear and they can hear you.  Nothing is worse than an unstable internet connection during a virtual class.  Here are some tips:

  • You can call in for voice and watch the slides and interact over the computer, it works very well and saves bandwidth
  • Some classes allow you to not show your video.  But right now, video adds a dimension that we all need (some level of human contact)
  • Whom else is on your data pipe. With everyone home, stream and other internet activities can be happening which significantly erodes quality.  Get the rest of the home team aware of your needs
  • Hard wire over wireless.  If possible, can you use an ethernet cable to plug into your router instead of going wireless.  It is a much better experience

Tools:  Do you have the tools you need to make the class as rewarding as possible, here are those critical tools:

  • A great headset.  You will be on the class for a while. Headsets can get uncomfortable, quickly, take it from a guy who worked the drive thru at McDonalds. Ear buds will not cut it.  Also, some ear buds don’t have microphones. You might want to try out a Wi-Fi headset, it allows you to get some water, move around and not miss any class.  If you do, just remember not to go to the bathroom with it!
  • A camera.  Do you have a camera connected to your computer?  Most laptops do but a number of desktops don’t, and people still have desktops at home. Also getting a privacy cover for your laptop computer is a nice addition, it is easy how fast “someone” can activate your laptop camera
  • A bigger monitor (not a need to have but it is a great nice to have).  Running dual monitor (laptop monitor and external one) helps you see your material (use your material will be electronic) and watch the class at the same time in a font that will not require superhuman vision.
  • And just to repeat the above, good bandwidth is a tool and it is critical
  • In this section we did not discuss remote connectivity software or collaboration tools.  That is because the company you will train with will provide those. Also, you don’t want too focus too much on those tools.  You want to focus on what you are learning and ensure those tools (remote classroom system and collaboration software) help in that and not hinder

Room environment: This seems to be one of the biggest problems people are facing with remote working, finding a comfortable place to work without distractions. Here are some options to consider:

Prepare your space in advance

  • If you can have a room where the door can be closed, if not consider a noise cancelling headset, that helps a lot
  • Have some snacks and drink close at hand
  • A comfortable chair is critical, there are a lot of secondhand stores and used business furniture outlets with great chairs, and some will ship to you
  • Soften the lighting if possible, the glare will cause eye strain which makes you feel very fatigued.

Miscellaneous Items:  Think of these as a hodgepodge of ideas and thoughts to make your experience the best it can be:

  • You are in training, TURN OFF THE WORK. It is much easier to pivot back to work in a Live On-line classroom, only you can control that
  • Look for Live On-line classes that run 3 to 5 hours instead of a full day.  It helps control the urge to work (you know you will have time to get back at it) and reduces fatigue
  • Interact in the class, why not. You can share your thoughts, enhancing the learning
  • Don’t worry about what you look like, who cares, it will be just nice to see other people and other people want to see other people
  • Play around with the virtual background settings of the tool.   Several tools allow you to add personalized backgrounds, it can be fun

Nothing beats face to face live communication, we know that but when it isn’t available there are real alternatives now that provide as close to the real thing as possible, with some added conveniences the real thing doesn’t provide.  Think about this, you now don’t worry about where to park, the best route to get the training location, what to wear (at least form the waist down) or where to go for lunch.