Monday, August 11, 2014

Five Ways to Increase Learner Engagement

One of the biggest hurdles we all have as trainers when delivering virtual instructor led training is how to keep our learners engaged. It's all too easy to be distracted by our in-boxes, phone calls, and IMs while on the receiving end of a training session when we're seated behind a laptop screen. As instructors, it's our responsibility not only to deliver content, but to make sure that knowledge is retained. And what better way to increase knowledge retention than to increase engagement levels...

Here are 5 things you can try in your next training session to help your learners become more engaged.

Ask your learners for a summation

Did you just spend the past 15 minutes discussing a particular topic? Instead of you summarizing that topic before moving on, ask if someone from the audience can summarize it for you. In some ways this can facilitate peer teaching and can be even more impactful in longer training engagements where you've just come back from a break... Ask an individual to summarize or recap what was discussed before the break.

Survey your audience with an actionable response

Using the tools that are available to you in the platform you're delivering the training in, pause for a moment and ask for feedback: 'Raise your hand if you agree with me that...' or 'Type Yes into the messaging area if you have encountered this in the past...' or 'Click the green response button if you think such and such'.

Keep people on their toes and randomly ask for feedback

Are you asking a question or trying to get some input from the class? Instead of generally asking your audience, ask someone specifically. Most all of the learning platforms out there today have the ability to display the names of your learners present with you. Use that to your advantage and call on people directly. Referring to people by their name will also help keep your training engagement a bit less formal.

Try a Viewpoint Round

Assuming this activity is appropriate for a given a topic, provide each learner with an opportunity to spend 2-3 minutes to express their perspective on that topic, while the rest of the class listens. You can use this method of participation to get a range of viewpoints, but don't force the entire roster to do this - let folks pass their turn if they choose to.

Allow for a rabbit hole every once in a while

As trainers we're taught to keep our learners on topic as much as possible. But telling stories can sometimes be just as memorable. The next time someone asks a question that might not be 'on topic', don't be so quick to dismiss it. Allow for that conversation to take place and see where it goes... You might be surprised to see how relevant it really is.

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