Many years ago, I worked at a very large and well known training company. I taught Windows, and all of the Microsoft applications. My classes were a full day of training, with about 35 students each day. At the end of each class, the instructors would gather the evaluation forms, and set up their classrooms for the next day. In the process, we would all meet and talk about how our classes went…did our blond bombshell Theresa get another marriage proposal? How many times did that old pc in Rick’s class shut down? And did I get straight 5’s again? Evaluations were on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the best. The word got out after several months that I was on a roll, and in each class every student gave me solid 5’s. I really couldn’t tell anyone how it happened because I didn’t know myself. Well that roll lasted for about 7 years and then l moved into the virtual world of training.

Training virtually is just as effective as training in person. It’s just different and you have to adjust to that difference. You must take all the methods used in the brick and mortar classroom that gain attention and encourage learning, and adapt  by using tools. Cisco Webex Training Center, for example, was specifically developed to mimic the actions that happen in a classroom, like breakouts and collaborative whiteboarding.

After years of teaching in the virtual classroom, one day I was thinking back on the days I spent with all my training colleagues at that training company and how they would joke about my straight 5’s. Just then, I realized why I was consistently getting those high scores. My secret sauce… In every class, I made a point to connect with each student. I would personally welcome each student that walked through the door with a handshake and warm introduction. I would pass by a desk during the day and touch a shoulder or an arm. I would actively listen and answer questions during breaks. I made a personal connection with each and every person at some point in the day. So now, after almost 20 years of training in the virtual classroom, I am often asked if that personal connection can ever be made online. And my answer is Yes, Yes, Yes!  Simply put on a smile and turn on your web cam!

I remember teaching a class on customer service skills. We turned on our web cams and throughout the 3-hour class utilized annotation tools, feedback buttons, polls and breakout sessions. 3 months later, I got an email with a picture of three woman waving at me. They were from my customer service class. Evidentially they had formed a bond during breakouts and the other activities we did during class. One of the women had a baby and the other two from Miami and Detroit went to see her and the new baby girl in Chicago. When asked what that was like, they all said it was as if they had known each other. And in a way they did…that’s what video does.

People underestimate the power of video. It’s not about the perfect lighting and background, or if you’re having a bad hair day or not. It’s about the natural bond that develops when one person can see another – the result is trust. Learning is about taking risks and practicing something new. It is about being able to ask that question you might think is dumb in front of others, or admitting you just don’t understand. In order for learning to take place, it’s the responsibility of the instructor to make sure the environment of the virtual classroom is a safe and friendly place. Imagine how you would feel if you were sitting in a brick and mortar classroom all day where the instructor and all the other students had a paper bag over their head. Not only would that hinder your learning, but at the end of the day you would walk away feeling very isolated. It’s no different in the virtual classroom when video isn’t being used. Cisco Webex Training Center was designed for interaction between the students and between the instructor and the students…but you have to use the tools!

Simplify the delivery of highly effective, online learning to anyone, anywhere, without sacrificing effectiveness with Cisco Webex Training. 


Linda Uli

Training Manager

Digital Learning Experience