Prior to 2019, corporate C++ training was almost entirely onsite instruction. The pandemic changed this completely. As of this writing, C++ training is still almost entirely online instruction.
What have we learned from almost two years of online instruction?
Instructors want to be in the classroom
The consensus of instructors is that remote classes are a lesser experience for both attendees and instructors. This is probably not a surprise.
Instructors report frustration at attendees that don’t bother to turn on their cameras, making it almost impossible to “read” the class.
But even when high quality cameras are used, it is still easier to read body language and facial clues when in person. We use these clues to determine if attendees are understanding the presented material. We can then decide if we need to repeat, slow down, or speed up.
An additional online instruction issue reported by instructors is the inability to “wander” around the classroom during exercises. Looking over students’ shoulders is a great way to see how well students are understanding the material. Students are more likely to ask for instructor assistance when the instructor is “wandering” passed their desks. This is particularly true of students that may hesitate to ask for help when the instructor is in the front of the room. Remote training sessions do not easily replicate this feature of onsite training.
Online tools showing promise
On the other hand, some instructors are identifying some advantages to online instruction. For example, it is easier for students to share their screen to show what they’ve done with exercises.
As an industry, we are learning to better exploit the features of remote leaning and to overcome some of its limitations. But at this point most instructors feel that, while online training does deliver value, they are looking forward to being back in the classroom for higher quality engagement with attendees.
Will returning to “normal” mean returning to classrooms or is online learning going to become the new norm? My personal opinion is that for teams with a critical mass in one location, the superior quality experience of onsite training will justify its additional expense and inconvenience. But online instruction has proven that it can deliver value and it is here to stay for some situations.