5 Steps to Maximize Classroom Learning With a Live Instructor

I suspect many of you would agree that traditional classroom learning is competing more everyday with new technology-based alternatives such as webinars, self-paced e-learning, mobile apps, and much more.

Personally, I like having all of the new options, but I was reminded recently that the more traditional method of having a knowledgeable, skilled instructor in front of a live audience can be a powerful way to learn.

I was lucky enough to have such an instructor at our local community college back in October. I went there to participate in a one-day communications skills class taught by a local consultant named Judy Zinn.

I figured it would be valuable to hear and watch another instructor deliver on topics that were in my area of expertise. Fortunately, I was right.

And while much of the credit goes to Judy, I also took some actions to help ensure I would get the best ROI possible for my time spent in her class.

Here are five steps that you may find can have a very positive impact on your learning experience with a live instructor.

  • Arrive with the context, “I want to maximize my time here!” The mental frame you put around the situation will heavily influence your behaviors and what you take away. Get your mind and your body ready for a great learning experience.
  • Commit to full engagement by sitting near the front, listening attentively and asking good, relevant questions. All of these actions signal to the instructor that you are there to learn, as well as to support her. Doing these things will allow you to hear more, observe more and will let you connect more quickly with her.
  • “Break the ice” with the instructor at one of the breaks or at lunch.  Try to get some one-on-one conversation so you can learn more about her, ask for book suggestions, or ask specific questions that may not be of interest to the other students. I always look at a class as the potential starting point for a new relationship.
  • Take copious notes that connect you to new ideas and resources. In Judy’s class, I picked up new tidbits of information, book titles, stories and good examples that I hadn’t heard before. Later at home, I used my notes and the Internet to dig deeper into a number of topics.
  • Follow-up with a thank you. Everyone wants to feel appreciated. It’s part of being human, so do the right thing and follow-up appropriately. I thanked Judy in a short email which included some links to articles I thought she would enjoy. I also sent a handwritten note of thanks. In my experience, a handwritten note is viewed much differently and more positively than an email.

The beauty of these five steps is that they typically add value that far exceeds the small amount of extra effort it takes to complete them.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Eric Hoffer

Question: What methods do you use to maximize your learning with an instructor in a traditional classroom setting?