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A story about Live Online learning: How to get better results

Woman with white headphones looking at lap top in her kitchen
Stuart Pedley-Smith
By Stuart Pedley-Smith, Kaplan Head of Learning Link to Stuart Pedley-Smith's LinkedIn profile

“Do I need to attend live online ‘live,’ or can I just watch the recording?” an inquisitive learner asked.

“That depends,” said the wise teacher “what do you want to achieve?"

“That’s easy,” says the learner, “I want to learn enough to succeed in my exams and apprenticeship."

“Ah, I see,” said the wise teacher, “so all I need to do is advise as to which is the most effective way to learn?”

To learn, you first need to give your attention. Think of it as a beam of light that can only shine on one object at a time. And then you should fully engage. This is the degree to which you are actively involved, interested, and invested. These are the prerequisites of learning and are essential if you are to do it well. The truth is you can be attentive and engaged attending a live online class or watching the recording, but they require significantly different amounts of motivation and effort. And, as you might imagine, watching a recording rather than attending live requires far more of both.

Watching the recording can also result in the worst of both worlds. Firstly, a live delivery is designed with engagement in mind as you will be encouraged to contribute and think. This might be in the form of answering a chat panel question, entering a break out room or giving an opinion in a poll. These will not be engaging activities when watched afterwards, and most people will probably just fast forward them.Yet, they are hugely valuable when it comes to learning. Secondly, live lectures are not meant to be watched after the event. You can’t search for specific sections or topics, you can’t ask questions, in fact you can do little more than go forward or back.

If making life easier is not enough, research undertaken by Credé, Roch, and Kieszczynka in 2010 showed a strong link between attendance and exam success. In fact, they went on to say that class attendance was a better predictor of college grades than any other known predictor of academic performance. Although this research used data from attending classroom lectures rather than live online, many of the principles are the same. These results are borne out by our own data. For example, learners studying AAT are 11% more likely to pass their exam if they attend live.

And if you weren’t already aware, the minimum percentage of live attendance you need to have at Kaplan is 90%. Sometimes there are good reasons why you can’t be there live, such as illness, which is why we provide recordings after the live session to enable you to catch up.

Watching the recording after attending live can also be helpful in reinforcing what you have learned, or just confirming something by way of fact checking. But if you are looking for the most effective way of learning, the wise teacher would always advise you to attend live because it’s not only easier and more engaging, it can contribute to your exam and apprenticeship success.

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