Instructor-Led Training Still Worthwhile Even in a Virtual World

A great IT instructor can make a big difference in effective learning.

I have an almost 17-year-old son, Gregory, who's just started taking an SAT prep class offered through our Round Rock school district. It came as an amazingly pleasant surprise to me that he's been effusing enthusiastically about his experience even though it's "only" a virtual online class.


Gregory had, quite frankly, been dreading this upcoming educational encounter. So it's been terrific to see him take a strong interest — he's been almost literally on fire this week — because of a capable, dedicated, and obviously talented instructor.


What's the "Good News?"


Gregory's instructor is named Mr. Nguyen. I'm going to reproduce some of Gregory's comments about that no-doubt august personage to provide a flavor of what he's been saying since his class kicked off on Monday (Jan. 25).


"I learned more in the last hour-and-a-half than I do in most weeks at school."

"I wish all my classes were this interesting, and this much fun."

"Mr. Nguyen said he got a perfect score for both SATs, and that we can do the same if we follow his advice."

"I am learning the BEST TRICKS to remember stuff for vocabulary and math."


I wanted to share these comments because I think they show that if a serially blas� teenager can get this wound up about taking an instructor-led class, then pretty much everybody who's juggling family, work, and learning should be able to do the same.


I've got to admit that I'm pleasantly surprised to observe that the "great teacher effect" is still as potent and powerful as ever. It's also nice to be reminded that the educational experience can be personal and powerful, even when it is socially distant and virtual.


What Does This Mean for IT Pros?


A live instructor can have a powerful effect on IT learning.

It's no surprise that the instructor makes a huge difference in the educational experience that people can expect from classes they take across all walks of life, including IT. As I think back on my own educational experiences, I still remember great teachers as far back as 6th grade.


Each of them, in their own special way, made enduring impacts on my life and my skills and abilities. The best of them reshaped my understanding of how things and people work, learn, and thrive. What this means to IT pros (and everybody else) is that identifying a top-notch instructor is a KEY ELEMENT in identifying any ILT (instructor-led training) class you might want to take, ever.


In large part, this depends on doing your homework. First and foremost, this means checking in on feedback from those who've taken a class you think might interest you. Your goal is to understand what others have experienced, and to be on the lookout for peak experiences.


Needless to say, you'll want to pay special attention to instructor info: ratings, reactions, plaudits and kudos, or dings and nicks. I'd also advise finding active community sites around class subject matter, and searching for comments or critiques on a class of potential interest.


If you don't find any such feedback, then ask to hear from prior attendees. Be sure to offer an e-mail address, in case they want to keep their comments more or less private instead of "going public."


The Word Is "Out There!"


As you look around for training opportunities, be sure to check out the big course delivery platforms such as edX, Coursera, Udemy and so forth. Some of these platforms offer courses from top-notch universities (such as MIT, Harvard, Princeton, and so forth) or from world-class big names. Often, such classes are pre-recorded, so you may not actually get to interact with that instructor.


Even so, the quality of instruction and supporting materials are truly amazing. Believe it or not, you can still get the same kind of buzz from some of the best of these classes even when those classes aren't live.


A great IT instructor can make a big difference in effective learning.

Here again, you can find them through the buzz that surrounds them through ratings and reviews on those various course delivery platforms, through third-party course rating sites — for example,,, and so forth, and from online communities around course topics or related professional associations.


Do yourself a favor. If you're looking to do some learning, and need a shot in the arm, energy- and enthusiasm-wise, find yourself a kick-butt course on a subject of interest. You may find that it not only helps you learn something you want or need to know, but it also boosts your zest for life in general.


Shoot! I just had it happen to me second-hand, by seeing a family member catch that high. If it works for me (and my son), it should do the same for you. If you're lucky, you'll catch fire and pass it on to those around you, too. Learn a lot, and have fun.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.