5 Tips to Make the Most of Live Online Courses

Continuous Learning and Organizational Development - © Performance Management Consultants

Online courses can be valuable tools to hone your skills and develop new ones. They can be a great opportunity to break out of the daily grind and actually invest some time into self-improvement. That is, of course, if they can actually provide value.

Each type of learning environment has its pros and cons. In-person training has a lot of benefits over eLearning (on-demand) courses. There’s something inherently more engaging about actually being able to interact with an instructor and other trainees in real time. On-demand online courses (typically available as pre-recorded video modules) have their place and can be a great way to learn, but they require a great deal of focus and self-direction which can be difficult with the myriad distractions available to the attendee. They also require self-discipline as there isn’t anyone waiting for you to show up at a set time, making them catalysts for procrastination.

As the world grows more and more virtual, and the convenience of join-from-anywhere training courses begins to make them ubiquitous, live, instructor-led, online courses have emerged as a “best of both worlds” alternative. While the course is still online and delivered in a virtual format, it occurs in real time and facilitates an environment that is more engaging, with real-time instruction, interaction with other participants, and feedback.

It’s more than just a replacement for in-person training, or an improvement on pre-recorded online courses. Live online training offers a ton of positive new benefits for trainees, so long as you’re equipped to realize them. Here’s what you need to know:

The Value of Live Online Training

The first step to getting the most out of live instructor-led online training is to accept that, while different from in-classroom training, it has many advantages to leverage, making it a particularly useful education medium.

1. Leverage the value of “live”: While pre-recorded online eLearning may offer many of the conveniences of live online classes, it lacks the two-way exchange with an instructor, that can make in-person education that much more engaging (and effective).

Live online training gives you the opportunity to connect directly with someone in real time with a question, point of clarification, or simply wanting more info on the subject. This can allow for a more holistic appreciation and understanding of the material presented.

The social learning effect is undisputed. A question asked by one participant may spark a question from another, and before you know it, an engaging and thoughtful discussion has taken place that never would have happened had the group not come together.

2. Ability to pivot: A good instructor will understand their audience and customize the activities and case studies towards a specific industry or scenario to make them more relevant to learners. One of the most important concepts of adult learning is being able to contextualize what is learned; adults need to know “how does this apply to me?”. This is definitely an area where instructor-led online classes outshine their on-demand counterparts.

3. Dynamic learning environment: Using a virtual platform for your training means you also have access to the many benefits technology can offer. From breakout rooms and file sharing to anonymous polls (with instant results) and whiteboards, online training offers educators and trainees access to an experience that rivals an in-person classroom scenario. And just like in-person, a good instructor will include a variety of activities to keep participants focused, engaged, and even moving around. The best instructors know that sitting in front of a screen for hours on end is not conducive to productive learning and will include more frequent breaks and activities to balance out the session.

4. Smaller class sizes: In-person workshops can typically accommodate larger groups than an online class. That’s because the technology can get in the way of a fluid learning experience, so training providers tend to limit class sizes. However, this can work to your benefit. Having a smaller class – virtual or not – will always give you more time with the instructor. That time can invaluable in getting exactly what you need from the course.

5. More efficient: One of the best parts of any online training is the efficiency with which it can be conducted and attended. If a course is held in-person at a set location, you need to figure out transportation to and from the class – something that takes both time and money. With live online training, attending the class from anywhere means a more time and cost-efficient solution for attendees.

This is especially important for remote team members. If you’re like many modern workers with the ability to do so, you don’t prioritize proximity to the office, instead leveraging the technology at hand to work from anywhere. Live online training facilitates this lifestyle, without incurring lengthy travel or missed education opportunities.

Leveraging the Value of Live Online Courses

Live online training is a unique educational opportunity, and if taken advantage of, can be a great way to develop your knowledge base and skillset. But for most of us, we learned to learn in-person, and that means making the leap to virtual training might require a bit of a transition.

  • One important thing to remember is that live online training is, in fact, live! And this means that you can ask-real time questions from your instructor and connect with your fellow trainees to engage with the material. It can become easy to forget you’re in a live education setting when you’re sitting in your home office, but by taking advantage of the real-time instruction, you can develop a deeper, more comprehensive appreciation for the subject matter.
  • Another thing to consider is the environment in which you take your training. In-person education usually means a quiet room free from distractions which allows you to focus on the material presented – something not always possible for us at home. To ensure you’re able to focus, consider using headphones that reduce ambient noise so it’s easier to hear what’s being taught. Using a microphone or headset so that your instructor and fellow trainees can clearly hear you is another great idea. This also means you might want to skip the noisy cafe if that’s your go-to work space!
  • Virtual training classes tend to be more condensed to avoid the pitfalls that come from excessive screen time, and to ensure everyone can remain focused for the duration of the session. What that means, however, is that ensuring you’re paying the attention the whole time is a must. Try to avoid multitasking by keeping your phone at arms-length, and only having the training material open in your browser – this can help to avoid the temptation of checking your email, which can really compromise the absorption of material.


As the world grows increasingly virtual, it becomes imperative to develop strategies that take advantage of online classes to actually improve learning. Live online training offers the positive aspects of in-person training, with all the efficiency and convenience of on-demand online courses.

By ensuring you’ve set up an environment conducive to virtual learning, leverage the in-person communication opportunities and discourage distraction, you can take full advantage of these benefits. Why not sign up for an online course today?

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