Virtual training is becoming more and more common in our industry with an added emphasis on acquiring the knowledge needed to excel at a chosen software quickly and efficiently. Generally, most of us just simply don't have time to go sit in a classroom or incur the travel expense to take an in-person class.
Make no mistake, as an instructor, I love being in the trenches of a classroom environment; face-to-face with students and TPM will continue to offer all of our courses in person. However, one of the myths that seem to be prevalent in the industry is that, in online courses, you lose some of the “feel” of a classroom environment. Let's talk about how TPM is changing challenging that myth!
We’ve all been there, we’ve all had those bad experiences while taking virtual courses. You are expected to sit and listen to an instructor lecture all day and you are provided with very little opportunity for relevant feedback or personal engagement. In those classes, you may even feel you would be better off watching a video elsewhere, which is not appetizing.
At TPM, our training environment is engaging because our instructors ask for feedback and encourage students to turn on their cameras and be a part of the class (although the camera is optional). Our instructors make it a point to have their camera and microphone on, and they ask questions to the class to keep you engaged in the topic. TPM also ensures that the typical tech issues with connectivity and access are addressed before class with our “Tech Checks.” During these “Tech Checks,” every student will have one-on-one time with the instructor to ensure that the student has a good experience. Because of this personalized one-on-one interaction, the environment will feel familiar to the student even before the class starts as it allows the student to connect with the instructor and discuss any challenges that they may face.
Our virtual environment is constructed to engage students. When you log into a TPM virtual machine, all of your tools are set up for class, and your progress is saved from day-to-day. If you need to disconnect to go to lunch - no problem - the virtual machine will stay on as though you walked away from your physical computer.
TPM also recommends that students have two screens – this is truly the key to the best experience. Having two screens ensures that students can see the instructor and presentation on one screen while the main screen is reserved for following along during the course on the virtual machine. The two-screen method is powerful because it allows students to focus on their work while allowing for the opportunity to glance over at the instructor just like in a real classroom.
In fact, the two-screen method actually makes learning more beneficial than an in-person class because the instructor also utilizes two screens. The instructor’s second screen allows for them to see the student’s progress throughout the class. Utilizing this second screen, an instructor can see if a student is falling behind and can seamlessly get them back on track and assist with any questions or issues that may arise. Overall, this virtual method makes for a faster, smoother experience when compared to an in-classroom environment where an instructor may have to walk over to students, one-by-one, and explain each step when the student falls behind. Our instructors at TPM also have the ability to share student screens with the entire class. This allows the instructor to show the steps again if needed, making it much easier for everyone in the classroom to share the same experience. This type of engagement will help auditory, visual, and tactile learning types because you get a healthy mix of all three. You will hear, see, and perform the tasks in concert with the instructors.
Now that we have addressed some common misconceptions of virtual learning and how we at TPM do it differently, we should also note that virtual training has a much lower cost when compared to in-person learning. TPM will ship the required book, a headset, and additional items in our care package upon a student’s registration for the course. This care package will ensure that every student has all of the items they need for the course before the start. Without the need for travel and food costs, it is much cheaper for the student to attend our virtual sessions, especially for those who are required to fly, drive great distances or stay in a hotel.
From the comfort of your home or office, virtual training is often much more comfortable with your shoes off!