Virtual training software allows you to run courses anywhere—at anytime. But it still comes with challenges. Here are tips to improve your virtual classroom by keeping students engaged and focused.

1. Take your online course as if you were the student.

Prior to “going live” with your online course, perform a dry run from the students’ perspective and flag any content issues, inaccurate visuals or lectures that are way too long. Work with curriculum developers to update the online class materials based on your results, so you can kick off the course with confidence.

2. Train students on the virtual training software.

At the start of every course, assume this is a student’s first time using an online training delivery platform. Provide students with a solid introduction on how to use the virtual training tools, how to ask questions, provide feedback and how to navigate the virtual training lab. Helping students feel comfortable with the virtual training software is critical if you want them to stay positive and pay attention. Develop a few slides on how to use the virtual training software and present them at that start of your course.

3. Engage students frequently.

Create a system of engagement where you keep your students motivated and inspired throughout the learning experience. There are many technology platforms that make student interaction a major component of the virtual training software, such as the ReadyTech’s Instructor-Led Training Solution and Self-Paced Training Solution. Be sure to take advantage of these engagement features— including Lab Timers, Emoticons, Student Shadowing, Desktop Sharing, Public and Private Chat, Surveys, Polls and Quizzes—every chance you can. For more on these engagement features, check out our blog post The Art of Teaching Passionate, Attentive and Engaged Students.

4. Eliminate student distractions.

Distracted students are not productive learners. As a result, be sure to disable applications and tools in your virtual training labs that might compromise the training process. These include open Internet access, games or other applications that are not needed in the class. If you have the right virtual training software, controlling what students can and cannot access within the virtual training lab will be easy.

5. Create virtual training labs.

Virtual training labs (also known as hosted labs) are critical to the learning process, especially if the curriculum involves learning about a software application or technology tool. Because these virtual training labs can be challenging to set up, work with your virtual training lab vendor to setup the lab environment (this should be included in their overall service offering) and write a document that outlines how students can access the virtual training lab.

6. Ask for informal feedback early in the class.

Too often, course evaluations are taken after the class has ended. But receiving feedback on what is working well, as well as what could improve the online classroom, gives you the opportunity to adjust your methods—instead of hearing about issues or dissatisfaction when class is over.

For multiple-day classes, perform an evaluation after each day to see whether the subjects covered were interesting and if the pace was appropriate. With this feedback, you can make the necessary adjustments to put your online classroom back on track.

Keeping online students engaged and inspired is no easy feat. But these tips will help you overcome the challenges that come with running online courses anywhere, anytime.