BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) – Here Are The Most Basic Answers To This Frequently Asked Question
- Can I ask the instructor a question while going through the online class? Yes.
- How do I ask those questions? There is a link in every module that lets students ask a question via email.
- Who will answer the question?
- If the question is related to the content being taught in the program, the instructor will be the one who personally answers the question.
- If the question is technical in nature or related to the learning management system platform, a member from our support team will be the one to provide a response.
- How long will it take to get a response? That answer depends on the depth of the question. Every question will be responded to or acknowledged within 24 hours (on business days). If the question requires a longer/more developed answer than what can be generated in that time, the students will be notified that the instructor needs more time to provide a thorough/complete answer and will be in touch as soon as possible.
- What happens if the answer provided doesn’t actually answer my question? We keep going until the topic becomes clear and the answer provided has actually solved the problem the student is facing.
Hi, I’m Patrick Van Horne, a co-founder here at The CP Journal and since launching the first version of the Tactical Analysis online program in the Fall of 2013, it has been very interesting to see how people decide whether they want to go through a class online or register for an in-person seminar. There is one factor that we have seen come up time and again during this time when people are evaluating the potential for an online class to meet their needs and it typically relates to the ability for a student to interact with an instructor.
The thought is, that during an in-person training seminar, when you have an instructor standing in front of a classroom all day long and with breaks during the class every hour, there are ample opportunities for students to ask questions about something that was just taught.
There is a perception, however, that when going through a class online, that the chances for interaction with the instructor are automatically severed because of the physical distance between student and instructor.
While that may often be the case in other online programs that you have attended, the ability for students to ask questions directly from the instructor while going through the Tactical Analysis program was something that Jonathan and I spent considerable time thinking about and finding ways to solve this problem.
As students ourselves who go through other online programs, we understand how important interaction between student and instructor is during the learning process and while the way the will happen will be different than during a in-person class, that doesn’t mean it has to be any less effective.
When I ask a question to the instructor/company for a class I’m going through, here are some of the things that usually run through my head.
- Is someone (a human, not an auto-responder) going to even get back to me?
- How long is it going to take to get a reply? Should I expect something today and therefore wait before moving forward, or should I keep going and wait for a reply tomorrow?
- Who is the person who will get back to me and what is their role in the organization? Are they going to be actually able to answer my question?
- What is the company going to do with this question once I hit the submit button?
- What will happen if my question is still not answered? Am I out of luck or are there other options?
Because we don’t want our students to hesitate to reach out when something is unclear to them, let me answer these questions for you. Let me start by answering the most basic of the questions – how can a student ask a question?
On every single module in our program, there is a link for the student to click on to either view our frequently asked questions or to submit a question of their own by filling out a short form. When you click on the submit a question link, you are brought to our contact form. When you fill out that form, we receive an email with all of the pertinent information, which triggers our internal process to get your question answered.
If you are about to ask, why do we use email as our Question and Answer platform, the answer to that is that from our experience, receiving and offering an initial answer to a question through email is the most effective way to provide a meaningful and thought out response to the students going through our program.
As a company that has intentionally remained small, an email-based support system (vs. a phone based system) allows us to keep the overall cost of the program down by minimizing the number of people required run a fully staffed support desk.
But it also allows us to provide higher quality answers because with an email, we can read the question and then take a step back to think about the best way to answer it instead of being in a position where we have to reply immediately over the phone before truly thinking through the response.
But sometimes, there can be a little bit of uncertainty that causes people to hesitate before asking a question and sending their email.
Questions like, how long it will take for us to answer a question, who specifically will answer the question and what we do with that question internally are driven by the type of question we receive. We group our typical questions into three different buckets, which determine how they get handled. Here are the the three common question types.
- The first are platform related questions. These are things that relate to software, movement through a course, troubleshooting, etc.
- The second are the content related questions where a student is asking for more information or a different explanation about something taught specifically in the program. In the Tactical Analysis program, these questions often relate to the specific observations for different types of behavior.
- And the third group is made up of application related questions. This might be a question about how a student can use a concept taught in the program in their life specifically.
- In the Tactical Analysis program, these often relate to how to establish a baseline for a particular situation, or what to do once a baseline is established for that specific scenario.
So lets start with platform related questions and work through those different answers. Starting with who answers the question? That will come from A member from our support staff.
Once we have answered the question, we take a look at our site because We strive for zero platform-related questions being sent in. Since these types of questions might relate to how to mark a module as complete, how to move through the course, uncertainty about how to sign up for an online program, etc., if we are receiving these questions, it means that the user experience on the site is not intuitive.
From the perspective of teaching, this is a concern to us because if a student is dedicating mental attention to using software instead of thinking about how to apply something taught in the program in their life, we have just become the source of the distraction that is limiting how much learning can occur. Once we answer the particular question asked, we look at our site from a new user’s perspective and try to determine is there something that can be made more clear, is there an FAQ article that could make this easier, is there a step that can be removed (meaning less clicks) to make the flow more natural?
While we absolutely want someone to contact us and ask the question that is causing them to be confused, we use those questions as the trigger to look for incremental improvements to our website.
When it comes to determining how long it will take for a response, for every platform related question that we receive, we always try to get back to the student immediately, but no later than the same time on the next business day. We do work with a third party vendor for our Learning Management System, and when we encounter technical glitches, we work with that company to try and solve the problem. There are times when that causes a delay in getting the final response to the student, but in those situations, we will certainly let the student know that we are working through the issue as fast as we can.
Lets move on to the second group, the content related questions. The instructor is always the person who answers content related questions.
For the Tactical Analysis program, that means that I, Patrick Van Horne, the creator of the program and the co-author of Left of Bang, is going to be the person to answer your question.
Since I am the person who has chosen the layout of the course, am the voice that you hear throughout the program, determined the initial learning objectives, scripted the modules and made the final decision for each picture and video in the course to best highlight the concepts being taught, to have a content related question answered by anyone else would be pretty disrespectful to you.
This is also one of the reasons why we initially answer questions using email. If I am teaching an in-person seminar, talking at a conference or designing new programs, I may not be available to answer the phone right away, leading to a game of phone tag and causing the student to get pretty annoyed with us. By sending the content related questions in through email, I have the exact question in front of me when I sit down to provide you a personalized answer while finding additional pictures or videos that hopefully provide the best possible explanation to your issue.
Even though the instructor may not be available to respond immediately, the same goal of having a reply to the student by the same time on the next business day is in effect. There are times when the length of a question requires more time to respond to it, but in those situations, the student will know that we have received it and are working on the answer.
Once the question has been answered, we often turn those questions and responses into a blog post. These content specific blog posts are the articles that we link to below the videos in each of our modules. We do this because it is one way that we can recreate the classroom environment for you. When you’re in a classroom with 50 other people, the entire room benefits from one person asking a question, so by posting the answer to the question in the module, everyone benefits from the curiosity of one student, even if they didn’t think of the question themselves.
And finally, we have our application related questions, which are a bit unique and require a more in-depth answer than the first two types. These questions are often about very specific scenarios where a student grasps the observations taught in the program, but is wondering how they can apply it to a situation they will likely encounter in their job or life.
While application related questions are harder to answer at first, these are some of our favorite questions to receive. This is because The Tactical Analysis program has been adapted from a military only class and tailored to the needs of professionals in a number of different fields.
Since we have not worked in all of those fields, getting a question like this really helps us to understand how different people are using the skills taught in the program, and translating the concepts to their life. This understanding of operational need allows us to make a number of improvements to the class.
Just like in the content related questions, you will always hear back from the instructor, but depending on the specificity of the question, we may reach out to someone from our network of course graduates working in that particular field to get their take on the question as well. It is important to us to provide the best answer we can, to be accurate and to ensure that the answer to the question is not done from a purely academic standpoint, but is rooted in the reality of life in the industry of the student asking the question, requiring that reach to a person in the field.
How long it takes to answer an application related issue is hard to answer before seeing the question. While the student’s question will always be acknowledged when it is received, it may take a few emails being sent back and forth to ensure that we truly understand the problem and the environment where the answer is going to be applied.
The other variable is the length of time it takes For us to hear back from the professional in our network that we reached out to. As our network is made up of operators who aren’t just sitting by their email waiting to hear from us, we ask for a bit of flexibility here. But in these situations, we always keep the student up to date with our progress.
But unlike the content related questions, we often don’t put these answers into the blog because the application related question requires understanding of the behaviors and the process taught in the Tactical Analysis program at a deeper level than what is available just to the blog reader. Because of that, when we finalize the answer with the student, application related questions get worked back into the course itself as another example of how to apply the behaviors being taught.
And finally, the last issue that we want to discuss is what happens if the answers we are emailing the student are simply not resolving the issue? The short answer is that we will do whatever we can to ensure that you walk away with a complete understanding of the topic being discussed. As you are spending your time and money to train with us, our definition of success during the question and answer process is whether or not the student still has a question when we are done.
Every once in a while, we realize during the back and forth that email is no longer the best medium to provide the answer and work with the student to find a time to connect in a video chat through Google Hangouts. We bypass a phone call because if the words being conveyed in an email aren’t solving the problem, speaking the words over the phone probably won’t be the solution either, and through a video chat, we can share a screen with other pictures or videos to provide further clarity until we get the question answered.
I hope that this explanation about how we answer The questions that our students submit removes some of the uncertainty that you may have about asking questions through email. We encourage questions because that is an indicator of learning and shows that you are thinking about how to transition the skills that are being taught in a class into your life.
Our sole goal is to improve the performance of the people who have dedicated their lives to protecting others, so when you see the option to ask us a question while going through our online program, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Until the next time we talk, get left of bang, and stay there.