How Virtual Training Helps Students Reach Beyond the Classroom

By R.C. Dirkes

Ben Rohling, who leads development for CompTIA Tech Career Academy’s curriculum, concedes that instructors can’t replicate exactly in virtual sessions necessitated by pandemic protocols what happens during regular in-person courses.

In some ways, they can do better.

Consider bringing guest speakers into classes to inspire IT-Ready Technical Support students with success stories as they launch their careers as IT support specialists.

“Our guest speakers are usually experienced speaking through Zoom, or Teams, or whatever virtual platform may be used,” Rohling tells host R.C. “Bob” Dirkes in an episode of a Technologist Talk podcast.

“And on top of that, being able to put speakers in the [virtual] classroom, and in front of these students, from basically anywhere has been blessing in disguise for us,” he adds.

“If you're taking an in-person class in Minnesota, we have maybe a 30-mile range around that class where we could pull people reasonably to come and speak to the students. Nowadays, we can pull experts, we can pull previous students and featured employer partners from anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world, really, to have them come and chat with our students.”


CompTIA Tech’s experienced instructors were ready for virtual help desk training

When pandemic distancing requirements pushed business interactions into virtual space last spring, CompTIA Tech was “well-prepared” says Rohling.

“We're not new to online classes,” he explains. “This is something we've been doing for quite some time. Our instructors are experienced in it, and a lot of them come from some background of teaching remotely. All our materials were ready for the challenge. All the same platforms are available to our online students as we would have in-person, so students are not missing out on that critical hands-on time.”

Rohling affirms that CompTIA Tech’s online technology enables direct interactions between students and instructors.

“We do have multiple modes of communication that students and instructors are regularly using,” he says. “We have the online classroom. You're speaking with an instructor either on webcam and microphone, or via the live chat function. You're all in a [virtual] room at once. This is not an e-learning type situation where you're watching a video, then maybe sending an email to the instructor with a question.”

“You can, in live time, ask the instructor that question,” Rohling continues. “It's a discussion. It's not watching a YouTube video. The interactive element is still there. And being able to send private messages to the instructor during break times, none of that's really lost.”


CompTIA Tech supports IT-Ready students with academic advisors and virtual career fairs

Rohling confirms that all students enrolled in IT-Ready Technical Support programs are assigned an academic advisor, who provides counsel and support throughout their relationship with CompTIA Tech.

“This person's going to be with you from day zero on, working through some of the challenges that you may come across professionally in the classroom,” he says. “And some of the challenges that you may run into in your personal life that may get in the way of giving you the best chance at succeeding in this type of training.”

Plus, the virtual environment allows CompTIA Tech to “cast a wider net” for career fairs.

“We can put 50 percent more employers in front of these students than we could have if we were talking a 30-mile radius from one of the classrooms,” Rohling attests. “And we have separate Zoom rooms or breakout rooms where students can go for small groups and chat with the employers. It’s not just one person chatting to a group of 30 people at a time.

If you or someone you know is considering changing careers, if you are a recent high school or college graduate aiming to launch a career, consider CompTIA Tech. 2021 classes are opening for applications soon. Apply now and you could be launching a new career working with technology in the New Year.

Meantime, to hear the rest of the conversation with Rohling, click here: Episode 39 – Talking Help Desk Training: How CompTIA Tech’s Virtual Training Helps IT-Ready Students Reach Beyond the Classroom


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