We live in a world full of distractions—a constant feed of information, noise and entertainment all at our finger tips. Each interruption gains control of our attention and productivity level. The result is a diminishing ability to focus and accomplish tasks. In a virtual learning environment, these ever-present distractions are particularly problematic.
Virtual learning is almost equal to in-person, classroom training in popularity. Virtual training delivery is fast, powerful, flexible and agile—however, it comes with its own set of unique challenges when it comes to learner focus and engagement. Whether you are a trainer planning a virtual learning program, or are considering taking a remote class, here are some tips to make the most of the virtual learning experience:
- Choose the proper audio/visual equipment: So many virtual training courses tout the ability to train anywhere using any type of device. Before you pop open your laptop, tablet or phone in the middle of the coffee shop, consider how these devices either enhance or detract from the learning experience. Consider using dual monitor screens for training so that you can view courseware and presentation materials on one screen and interact with the instructor and classmates on the other. Likewise, use a noise-canceling headset so that you can tune out the environment and focus more on the learning at hand.
- Ensure you have the proper technical support: There is nothing worse than dealing with technical problems during a virtual training class. To thwart any potential difficulties, ensure your hardware/software is up to par with class standards and recommendations. Research the appropriate technical support number and keep this number handy so you can jump back into the virtual classroom quickly.
- Distraction-free learning environment: When choosing an appropriate space to learn, think about the potential distractions: background noise, other people, pets, neighbors, even a nice view can all disturb your concentration when you need to focus on learning. Home, office or coffee shop is not an ideal location to take virtual training—as each are filled with a host of potential distractions.
- Prepare with the proper nutrition: There is a direct correlation between thirst/hunger and concentration. You may have heard of the term “hangry,” which means you are so hungry that the lack of food causes you to become angry, frustrated, or both. However, before you reach for the candy bar, consider foods that elevate concentration, provide energy and promote mental function—such as high-protein, low carbohydrate snacks.
- Log-off or silence email: It is well-known fact that email is a productivity/learning killer. Resist all temptations to check email during training and designate breaks for this activity. Completely shut down email clients on your phone and other nearby devices—as seeing mail notifications are equally distracting.
- Silence cell phones and instant messaging: Like email, our phones are filled with a multitude of distractions--apps and texts that ding, beep and chime are all begging for an instant response. Unless you’re expecting an important call or text—set an “away message” on your voicemail and instant message to set expectations of those trying to contact you.
- Don't train where you might be tempted to work: The full inbox, the report waiting to be reviewed, pile of papers needing to be filed—all of these are potential distractions to your training. If you must train at your office, remember the rule: out of sight, out of mind. Clear your entire desk before training—put your inbox tray in a drawer or closet, place open papers in a folder, cover whiteboards, etc.
With these few tips to eliminate distractions you can have a great virtual learning experience.
MicroTek has published many resources on virtual training, particularly as it relates to hybrid learning. Visit our Resources Page on our website to view the full library. Download our ebook below for more great best practices on virtual learning.