Preclass Remote System Check

20120502-064740.jpg6:00AM One customer calls in.

Switched him from Chrome to IE. Had him configure his corporate proxy details. Everything works.

“Your system is now ready for class. It will be a good one – the instructor [not me] is excellent. You will enjoy the class. Good-bye!”

Two more sessions are on my schedule for today, one at 8:00AM and the last at 1:00PM MST. We stagger them like that to make them available at convenient times in all North American time zones.

We present our training both in-person and remotely. The class I did last week in Seoul was in-person. I fly. I jet-lag. I walk around during labs, look over shoulders and help when someone is stuck or has a question. Sometimes you see a face that says, “I don’t have a frickin’ clue,” so you sit down and work through issues, often background or a missing prerequisite. It happens and we deal with it. That’s what instructors are for, those individual needs.

This morning’s customer, however, will be taking a remote class next week. His instructor will be on the phone sharing his computer’s display so the customer can see what he is doing. And later, the customer will connect to a different system where they can run our software and work the lab exercises. The instructor can see the desktop of that remote lab system to help out when needed, but that’s all the instructor can see.

We don’t see faces in remote classes. That lost look doesn’t come across.

And we never hear the confession, “I don’t know that I don’t know something.”

So while it’s nice for instructors (and sometimes the customer) to avoid the inconvenience, discomfort and expense of travel, it’s also true that we lose bandwidth in a remote class. We lose body language and, with that loss, we don’t see confusion, panic or “I already know this” boredom. We ask more questions to try compensate but an individual’s shyness can be a significant obstacle.

So, I jot down some additional notes, solely for the eyes of his instructor: “Strong Indian accent. No problems understanding spoken English. Talks softer than usual and mumbles when uncertain. Waited a long time before asking a question and only then when he was directly asked. Technical skills with computer fully adequate.”

This morning’s preclass remote system check verifies the technology and settings needed for class. It’s a dry run. Phone, computer displayed lecture and then lab computer system settings have been verified. The customer’s technology is ready.

And with the personal notes, we have a start on understanding this individual and how he will, or won’t, be likely to interact during class next week.

I have two more sessions today.

[Yawn!]

Time for another coffee before starting the 8:00AM session.

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