Remote learning has rules
There are a few simple things that you need to remember whenever you are participating in remote learning. First, you have to be on your toes and follow instructions closely. Don’t miss out on a lesson because you got distracted and left behind.
Secondly, don’t be shy about saying you need help. We all need help at various points in a remote training.
Finally, always be early for remote training. That way you can insure you have everything set up and are ready to start on time.
Get ready in advance
The best advice anyone can give you is to have everything set up in advance. Think about it, you didn’t go buy school supplies on the first day of school, and waiting until the day of the training to get ready means you are going to miss out.
Do all of your preparation work at least 1 to 2 days prior to the start of class.
Request help from the instructor or your IT staff if something doesn’t make sense to you.
And most importantly, don’t wait until the day of class to request help. All classes begin on time and you may have to reschedule if you’re not ready to start with the group.
Check your internet connection
The weakest link in online training can be your internet connection. Remember: having a directly wired connection to your router or modem is better than using Wi Fi, but you should not have any problems taking the training if you’ve got a strong Wi Fi signal.
You shouldn’t depend on your provider’s advertised speed, however, but always measure the connection in the room you will be taking the training using the computer you will be taking the training with.
If you’re not certain if you have a good Wi Fi connection use one of these third-party websites to test your network speed.
Remember, you want to test using the computer you will be taking the training with, in the room where you will be working.
Don’t Use VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it’s been the best way for you to securely connect to your work computer and network drives when working remotely.
But VPN can also cause severe problems when you are in remote training.
You should turn off VPN before you enter the training session. Don’t worry, everything we’re doing is secure and is protected by Microsoft’s cloud.
Avoid Alternate Networks
Another issue that crops up and causes problems in training is when people try to use alternate networks like mobile hotspots. It’s best if you don’t depend on one for your training session.
One caution: if you must use your mobile device as a network connection, be aware that you may rack up data charges that can’t be reimbursed.
You should also avoid any kind of public network, like those found at coffee shops and retail establishments. They’re just not strong enough for attending class.
Must be using desktop or laptop computer
Although mobile devices have software that allow you to attend a Teams meeting, you shouldn’t use them for online training. We’re going to be moving backward and forward through other applications, and you won’t be able to participate if you’re working from a mobile device.
Smaller laptops and computers like a Surface Pro can also cause problems for people attending training because the screen is too small to comfortably work on. Be certain the computer you’re working with has a big-enough screen that you can see everything.
But if you need to use a phone to hear audio, that is fine. Just remember to turn off the speaker and microphone on your computer if you are using a phone for audio.
You’ll want to be certain your computer has a working microphone or that you have a microphone and headset plugged into your computer.
A webcam is also a great tool, but it’s not a requirement for taking the class.
Be sure you perform all of your software updates before class begins, and always try to use a computer that has two monitors for the best experience.
Clear the Decks
One of the nice things about in-person instructor-led training is that you are insulated from the outside world while in the classroom. Unfortunately, remote learners can be plagued by attempts to multi-task during the class.
It’s always a best practice to close all other files and programs before class begins and put aside any phones or other distractions until after class is finished.
Setting up the practice files
It’s important that you set up the practice files before class begins. That way you will be ready to start when class begins.
The steps are actually quite simple.
- First, download the zip archive that contains your practice files to your desktop. An attachment or a link to the files came in your email invitation when you were enrolled in the class.
- Then close Outlook and view your desktop. Find the zip archive on your desktop that you just downloaded. A zip archive has a zipper in the icon.
- Next, right-click on the zip archive and choose Extract All from the dropdown menu.
- In the next window, remove any text that comes after the word Desktop, and then click Extract.
- After the extraction is complete you will have both a folder and the zip archive on your desktop. Look for the zipper on the archive icon so that you can tell the difference.
One important point: Windows will allow you to double-click on a zip archive and then double-click on a file inside of a zip archive to open it, but a lot of things won’t work if you continue in this manner.
It’s always a best practice to Extract the files from a zip archive before you join the class!
Open the Practice Files
Once you’ve got the practice files extracted from the archive, it’s always a good idea to open the practice files you will be using in class before the class begins.
Don’t worry about writing over the practice files with your work in the class. So long as you don’t delete the original zip archive you can always go back and extract the original file.
After you have opened all of the practice files you can then open Microsoft Teams and join the meeting.
Enter the Virtual Classroom
You’ll want to use the Microsoft Teams application to enter the virtual classroom.
If you don’t have the desktop version of Microsoft Teams installed prior to the class, you might have problems.
Take 5 minutes and review the video Checklist for your First Microsoft Teams Meeting if you’re unsure if you have the program installed or not.
With Teams installed, there are plenty of different ways you can join a virtual training. The most straightforward way is to go into your Outlook calendar and double-click on the Teams Meeting in your calendar.
Once you have opened the Meeting Details window, just click on Join Teams Meeting in the Microsoft Outlook Ribbon. When Microsoft Teams opens, remember to turn off your webcam and mute your microphone before you click on the Join Now button. Once you have joined the meeting and it is appropriate, you can turn on your webcam and unmute your microphone to greet all of your fellow classmates.
If you have two displays
If you have two displays or monitors on your computer, you are prepared for the best experience in remote learning. Just position the Teams Meeting window in one display and the practice files in the opposite.
Be certain you Maximize all windows to see everything the best.
If you have one display
Don’t worry, you can still attend class if you’ve only got one display. Just position all windows on top of one another, and be certain to maximize the windows to full-screen.
You will want to pay close attention to the next section of the video about moving between windows.
Please note: some video conferencing software like Microsoft Teams may block access to the Task Bar at the bottom of your screen.
Moving Between Applications
We’re going to be moving back and forth between windows in our class, and you’ll want to be comfortable doing that. The best way to accomplish this is by using the Alt Tab Switcher.
The technique is very simple, but requires you use two fingers.
- Press and hold the Alt button on your keyboard while you tap and release the Tab key. That will bring up a list of all open windows on your computer.
- Keep the Alt key pressed and start typing the Tab key on your keyboard. Each time you press Tab you will move over one window in the list of windows. On my screen today I have pressed Tab twice while holding down the Alt key.
- When the Window you want to switch to is selected, just release your Alt key.
Pressing Alt + Tab again will bring up my list of windows with the last window I was in highlighted. If I release the Alt key now I will return to the previous Window.
The good news is that Alt + Tab goes in a circle. Just keep Alt pressed and continue typing the Tab key until you get to the window you want to open. Then release the Alt key.
Location is everything, or so we’ve been told, and it definitely applies to taking online training.
Make sure you find a spot where you will not be disturbed during the training and avoid public places and busy rooms.
You might even want to put a sign on your door that says “Do not disturb. Online training in progress.”
In fact, it’s to your advantage to disconnect from the rest of the world while you are in training. Go ahead and turn off your phone and stop using any texting software. I would suggest you resist the urge to multi-task and stop trying to read email while in class. With your office door closed and a headphone/microphone combination you can really get something out of your training.
When it comes down to the day of training, there are a few final things you can do to make sure you get the most out of instructor-led remote training.
Be sure you know your work email address and password before starting the class. First timers are going to have to log in and it will be required. Also, be sure you get logged in at least 10 minutes early. If it’s your “first day at school,” you want to give yourself time to acclimate before the class begins. All online classes begin on time and the instructor will not be able to go back over material you miss.
And finally, bring your thinking hat and your list of questions. This is not boring computer based learning you are doing, you have a real-live instructor who can help you find a path to success with the software.