For health and convenience reasons, online classes, sessions, and seminars have never been so popular as they are now. If you are interested in delving into the world of virtual classes but are new to online learning and instruction, here are some handy tips and tricks of the e-trade.
Online classes can be one-on-one, in which case you will interact directly with an instructor, or group, during which you will be tuning in with multiple attendees, like a video conference.
Get to know your platform (before class)
You know what they say about the early bird…
You might get more from your class by showing up a few minutes early. Instructors will sometimes join classes early to answer questions or just to chat. It’s also a nice way to connect with other attendees.
Understand the interaction plan
Some instructors will answer questions in a chat screen, but not all classes are open for interaction. Many platforms, like Zoom, allow you to text during the session, while others will have Q&A periods at specified times.
If you have ever been on a conference call with an unidentified screeching or shuffling noise in the background, you’ll know the importance of muting during virtual classes. Some instructors will automatically mute all attendees, but if not, make sure you do it yourself.
To camera or not to camera?
In most cases, you will have the choice to turn on your camera so the instructor and other attendees can see you. This is up to you, but understand that the room you are in, and any other people or animals present may show up on camera. If you are doing some kind of physical class, like ergonomic adjustments or yoga, you may wish to use the camera so the instructor can see what you are doing. (In such cases, you might want to make the bed or close the door to the office first!)
On some online platforms, like Zoom, you can upload a photo background that obscures the room you are in, so other attendees will see the Golden Gate Bridge or a tropical beach instead of your living room couch.
Get dressed. No, seriously.
Even lawyers need to remember to wear clothing when attending online meetings. Even if you intend to keep the camera off—don’t take the risk. Wear a shirt.
A virtual class or session is just like any other class in many ways. Try to log on in a timely manner, and mark the class on your schedule so you don’t forget. This is, of course, especially important for one-on-one sessions.
Be mindful of others in your actual space.
If you are playing music or using props during a class, remember that others may be able to hear you if you live in a building with other residents—be mindful of dropping kettlebells on the floor or blaring “Eye of the Tiger” from your laptop at 7 am.
Marcy is the SVP of People and Communications at Zeel. In addition to overseeing the humans of Zeel, Marcy has written about workplace topics for more than 20 years both at Zeel and as VP of Content for Vault.com, a career information web site and publisher.