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  1. #1

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    Etiquette when training

    Is it really appropriate during a training session to be surfing the internet and checking your personal email?

    I attended a training course over the last couple of days which the person sitting next to me kept checking her email, bank account, general surfing whilst the trainer was conducting the session, instead of following what was going on in the training.

    There was access to the internet, but unless it is on a break and you ask the trainer if you can use it, then I don't think it is really appropriate and is quite rude and disrespectful.

    Or have times changed that it is kind of the done thing these days?
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    I've not been in a training situation where this has happened, but I have been in similar situations in a lot of university lectures (of varying levels) and it happens all the time. I do it sometimes myself.

    In any type of passive learning situation, you're going to have people mentally checked out, especially after the limits of one's attention span are reached. Many choose to divide their attention and this is not a phenomenon specific to technology - it's just a new method to deal with the same old problem. Daydreaming, doodling, etc are similar self-distraction methods and have nothing to do with technology. People have always been doing it.

    Personally, I am still listening to the instructor when I do such things. Certainly not with my full attention, but I am still picking up key details and will "tune back in" when I hear something I figure is relevant to me. But if a lecture/lesson/session is not fully engaging me, I often have to find ways to keep my mind active lest I start getting sleepy. If I'm fully rested and alert, I find I do it less. If the session is more interactive, engaging and fast-paced, I don't do it at all.

    I'm not saying it's a completely appropriate thing to do... but I do understand why people do it. I've been on the other end of things and have been the presenter with people doing it to me... and yeah, it can come off as disrespectful - but it's also a hint to me that maybe I need to change gears or design a better session so that people don't feel the need to do that.

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    Ditto about the self-distraction methods. I've read about studies that actually claimed people who doodled during meetings actually remember more of the meeting. But it's a different thing from reading things on the Internet.

    My friend, when she was in law school, would often surf the Internet during large lectures, and chat with me online. Sometimes she would tell me that someone in front of her was shopping online. Obviously you can't do that in a discussion class, and I would find it rude in a small setting when you're supposed to be actively participating in a group.

    But if it's a lecture-type thing where you're being talked at and you need to keep awake somehow, all methods are fair!

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    you don't say what kind of training session it was, but as someone who monitored training classes and attended them, it is not unusual for people to do this.


    If my company sent me to a training class that I didn't want to go to or feel that I would gain anything new from, I might be checking my email or surfing. With SMART phones, no one really would know what you are doing. Do I think it is ethical? Not really, but I can understand the checking out of a training session especially if the lecturer is boring or monotone.

    If it is a mandatory training with the same old, same old material to meet some regulatory agency's requirement, it is even harder to maintaining attention.

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    As was mentioned, we don't know what kind of training this was but if it was pure lecture then this is probably more common than you think. I am back at school and last semester all my classes were lectures. I was constantly checking in to here and other websites. I would look around the class and 95% of the laptops were logged in to Facebook, that is no exaggeration.
    -Brian
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    The training was an Excel course with 7 people. All the computers were set up so the screens were facing the middle of the room so you could see what everyone was doing on their computers. It was only two half days.

    It wasn't at my workplace but with an external provider. All the people attending would have had their companies paying for them to attend and everyone was doing it to improve their work skills.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigB08822 View Post
    As was mentioned, we don't know what kind of training this was but if it was pure lecture then this is probably more common than you think. I am back at school and last semester all my classes were lectures. I was constantly checking in to here and other websites. I would look around the class and 95% of the laptops were logged in to Facebook, that is no exaggeration.
    And those 95% are going to get a big surprise when the material that they were tuning out on is on the exam, or when some future employer assumes that they know the material because it was in a course that they have credit for.

    I totally agree that some lecturers are snoringly dull, but that doesn't mean that the audience has to completely disengage from the material.
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

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    So, AW...if you were 'fully engaged' in the training, how do you know the others were browsing and checking email?
    Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...

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    When my team and I give trainings, I have noticed people do it to us often. I don't have a problem with it. It's more than normal these days. They don't need to wait till break and they most certainly don't have to ask for my permission to check their email. My take is if I was offended by that, I would be in the wrong business.

    And when I attend trainings, I check and answer my emails and do other low level work from time to time when it hits a lull. I try not to do intense work, like running analysis or compose long emails to the big boss. Sometimes I would tell the trainer that it might look like I am working but I am actually taking notes of her lecture.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post
    So, AW...if you were 'fully engaged' in the training, how do you know the others were browsing and checking email?
    Their screen was right next to mine. You couldn't help but see it. So did the trainer. I did find it distracting.

    However if you were training someone and they kept checking the internet, how would you feel?

    But I am also asking the question if these days it is an acceptable thing. Sounds like it is from the responses here.
    Last edited by Aussie Willy; 07-07-2010 at 06:24 AM.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

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    I teach junior high students. If they're not engaged, they're the fastest to 'check out'. It happens regularly in meetings, conferences. It may be a lack of interest on the part of the participants, it may be a lack of dynamic presentation -- the engagement factor, or it just may be that the person who has checked out already has the skills in question and is only there because they have to be.

    I'm still not sure how what someone else was doing on a machine next to you could be distracting if you were focused on your own work.
    Haunting the Princess of Pink since 20/07/11...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Really View Post

    I'm still not sure how what someone else was doing on a machine next to you could be distracting if you were focused on your own work.
    I agree. Unless someone is poking you in the ribs saying "look at this" or they're singing along to a music video I really don't see why you care.
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    It probably is more common than you think, AW. If I was the trainer, and this was happening, I'd just think that the person is an adult and their choice to pay attention or not. I wouldn't call them out on it. It's not junior high. Maybe the person next to you knew the material and was bored. I don't know. It sounds like it was distracting to you because you were offended that they weren't paying attention and you were (or were trying to). What they do in their training time is their problem, not yours. Maybe a little bit of MYOB was appropriate in this case? Whether it's "appropriate" or not, it's your choice to pay attention and get as much out of the course as you can....just like it's the choice of the person next to you to not do so.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormy View Post
    It probably is more common than you think, AW. If I was the trainer, and this was happening, I'd just think that the person is an adult and their choice to pay attention or not. I wouldn't call them out on it. It's not junior high. Maybe the person next to you knew the material and was bored. I don't know. It sounds like it was distracting to you because you were offended that they weren't paying attention and you were (or were trying to). What they do in their training time is their problem, not yours.
    ITA with that.

    Why is it distracting to you if other people chose not to get everything out of the course? That does not hinder you.

    Just let them be and don't waste your energy to be offended or distracted by it.

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    If I had been in AW's position would I notice? Yeah, I would, I tend to notice everything that's going on, particularly in a work situation I'm always aware of everything going on around me.

    Would it distract or bother me? No. I'm not that easily distracted even if aware.

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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    I agree. Unless someone is poking you in the ribs saying "look at this" or they're singing along to a music video I really don't see why you care.
    Ditto. I usually will mentally check out (and god knows an Excel course would make me stop paying attention fairly quick) in a lecture situation. Chances are I've already got the information I need or will figure it out on my own--I don't learn listening to someone talk at me. (In the mandatory academic courses we had to take for culinary school because it was attached to a college I doubt I paid any attention at all. Still got As, because it's not like the material was difficult or really required any explanation beyond the book.)

    But then my job sends me to things where I'm making the presentation or manning the booth. There's not a lot of post-graduate lecture courses for our business.

  17. #17
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    I'm a trainer--I have to yell at people when I see them online or on their phones.

    I'm salaried and train hourly staff, so I wouldn't be as comfortable yelling at someone if they were a peer or superior of mine.

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    The trouble is that studies are showing that we are not as good at multitasking as we thing we are and we cannot read FSU and absorb other information as easily as we think we can.

    I always had students who thought they could do their Spanish homework and pay attention to the history discussion. And sometimes I let them. They were the ones who would say things in the test review session like "Where's this from? We never went over this." And I would respond something like this: "We spent a class period and a half on it and watched a video clip yesterday." The students would then ask what page it was on in the book. Oh. Too bad for them. It was one line in the book and I expanded on the topic in lecture and discussion and through the video, all of which they ignored.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anita18 View Post
    Ditto about the self-distraction methods. I've read about studies that actually claimed people who doodled during meetings actually remember more of the meeting. But it's a different thing from reading things on the Internet.
    Not necessarily. Tactile learners think better when doing something with their hands--and keyboarding counts for that. It would make a difference depending on how engaged the person was in the reading, but someone who is bouncing around on the internet isn't really focusing on what is on the screen.

    Most people hear only 30% of what is said in lecture. That's because the human brain works much faster than human speech, so everyone--not just people who are overtly doing something else--wanders mentally during lectures. The less engaging the lecture, the more the mind wanders. Sometimes it pretty much runs away and isn't there any more, leaving behind a mere shell of a person who is taking up a seat .

    That said......

    Quote Originally Posted by Stormy View Post
    It probably is more common than you think, AW. If I was the trainer, and this was happening, I'd just think that the person is an adult and their choice to pay attention or not. I wouldn't call them out on it. It's not junior high.
    The entire point of having computers set up in a circle like that is to discourage people from surfing the internet when the trainer is talking. As a trainer, I would absolutely consider it rude, common or not, (not to mention the tapping of the keys can be a real distraction to others, whether users realize it or not), but it would be both unprofessional and counterproductive to treat a customer like a first grader and call them out on it.

    There is software out there that takes care of such problems in networked computers.
    "The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources."-- Albert Einstein.

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    There's a reason while all medical school lectures at my school (and most schools in the US) are video recorded, and most students don't go to lecture--they watch the lectures on their computers with 2x audio-visual to speed it up. Saves time, and students can often get more out of it because they can pause or rewind something if they don't understand or mentally check out. Obviously, the lecturers really dislike this... but students also have to use the method they find best to learn.

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