I'm in a long training course for my new position. There's about 30 people in the class and we sit in a computer lab with multiple rows. The first day we chose where to sit, but at seemingly random times the instructor changed the seating arrangement and told us where to sit.

The way the class is taught I find very hard to learn. It's 8 hours long with 1 break and it's all listening to the instructor speak and his slide show. There's no interactivity and we never get to use the programs we are being trained on. We do have tests and quizzes.

I've been lucky enough to always sit close to someone, named Bob. Bob and I sometimes chat to each other about the material and I find this extremely helpful in learning. Should I let the instructor know that is what I'm doing? When and how should I let him know? Is it ok for me to continue these chats with Bob during class time? I don't want him to think I am messing around or taking a break with Bob. Usually these chats are just a few seconds long about. Sometimes the instructor and his assistant get mad at people when they're chatting, but I think this is because they're joking around and not focusing on work.

Preemptive response to comments :

Can I wait until the end of the lecture to speak with Bob?

No because we go for several hours with no breaks. Also quizzes are frequent and I find I get lost if I don't understand certain concepts before others.

Why don't I ask the instructor when I don't understand something?

He's not good at explaining things. His background is sales and he's teaching tech support. For example I asked him if our phones run over the internet and he started giving a sales pitch about how are phones are much better than VoIP and never answered the question. He's also a jerk. Some other students were asking lots of off topic questions and the class was falling behind schedule. Now he makes fun of people in front of the class when he thinks they are asking a bad question. This part doesn't bother me as much as I already know he's an ass but if he's not going to properly answer anyway why bother asking.

  • I am unsure if this is on topic here. But I cannot quite pinpoint it, so I leave the decision to others. What is your question, anyway? – skymningen Jun 14 '17 at 11:09
  • @skymningen I highlighted it in bold, does that help? – thisisaname Jun 14 '17 at 11:11
  • Those questions are probably not on topic here. For the last one: If that is okay is something only you, Bob and your instructor can decide. – skymningen Jun 14 '17 at 11:13
  • 7
    The course seems to be terribly organized (recommended for teaching adults is a break every 90 minutes, depending on the subject even more often, the instructor doesn't seem to be qualified for teaching) and as a result is a waste of everybody's time. Presumably you get paid for it. Whatever you do now (I would complain to the higher-ups), you should definitely make sure to give feedback about the course to your manager after you have finished it. – Roland Jun 14 '17 at 11:27
  • 2
    @thisisaname I believe talking during a lecture is completely unacceptable, because of the effect on others sitting near you. They are already in a situation that puts unusual demands on their concentration, and even quiet voices will make that worse. The lecturer's decisions about IM and cellphones are something you would have to discuss with him. – Patricia Shanahan Jun 14 '17 at 21:45

Should I let the instructor know that is what I'm doing?

If you want your in-class chatting to continue, you should bring it up with the instructor, and ask if that is okay.

When and how should I let him know?

Arrive in class early. Approach the instructor privately and ask.

Is it ok for me to continue these chats with Bob during class time?

That's not for us (or for you) to decide. That is solely up to the instructor.

In your comments you mentioned that the instructor had disabled IM on your computers and said no cellphones in class so you don't get distracted. So it seems unlikely that chatting in the middle of instruction would be acceptable. But the only way to know is to ask.

Remember, this instructor is charged with conveying a lot of information to the group. If everyone were chatting with their own "Bob" all the time, it might be a big enough distraction that the actual training would suffer.

Ask permission. Explain why you feel this would help in your learning. Be open to possibilities other than chatting during class.

And try to talk with the instructor without the attitude ("He's also a jerk", "I already know he's an ass") - it won't help your cause.

  • Do you have any specific phrases to use? I was thinking something like this but sounds unpolished Excuse me instructor, you may have noticed me chatting with Bob. We both find this very helpful to our learning and was wondering if you mind? – thisisaname Jun 14 '17 at 19:33

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.