Online learning may not sound as attractive as it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of the virtual events, from work meetings to online game nights, it is hard to add one more online activity to the list and sit through 1–5 hours of training.
Still, eLearning is as popular as ever, as a result of the pandemic. As of April, 65% of children in the US have already moved to online learning and numbers are increasing. The number of online training for employees has increased too, since more and more companies work remotely (17% before COVID-19 and 44% after).
In order to make this experience as enjoyable as possible, especially during long training sessions, try these 3 creative, easy-to-implement ways to keep learners engaged when training virtually.
Use Virtual Engagement Tools
Virtual engagement tools come in different forms, but I would like to share two tools that were especially helpful during training at Cooltechzone.com.
First of all, there is Mentimeter, a tool for interactive presentations. It is perfect for ice-breakers, quizzes, and Q&A sessions, making those who are uncomfortable speaking up more at ease. Users can also create word maps and share ideas. You can use it as a checkpoint for fun breaks during which you ask learners about their favorite joke in the office, what they want to do in retirement, and more.
Secondly, I recommend utilizing Kahoot. It has funny music and is great for quizzes. Kahoot has a competitive edge to it: users who answer faster and give more correct answers in a row will end up higher in the ranking. Therefore, learners will stay alert during training sessions, if only to beat their colleagues in the game later.
Create Breakout Rooms
Small groups are where the creative juices flow and new ideas are created.
People do not always like to discuss questions in large groups, even during a virtual training session. They may be too shy to speak up or feel that coworkers will not hear their questions and ideas. We have all been in a situation where too many people started to speak at once during video calls, and there was an awkward silence and “no, you go first” after.
Breakout room sessions open more opportunities for speaking up, thought sharing, and overall active discussions.
People can learn more as well. You divide them into different groups with different cases or topics, and they come back and share their newly-gained knowledge or experience in a very short form.
The greatest benefit of breakout rooms is the tremendous engagement. With big groups, there will always be people who speak up and those who do not pay attention, but there are too many people for the lecturer to notice who is engaged and who is not. In small groups, the absence or lack of activity from just one person will stand out.
Create Engaging Slides
The most annoying thing a lecturer can do is to insert lots of text into slides and read them. Learners simply do not see value in such a method, because they can read on their own. Consequently, they are more likely to skip classes and simply read the slides afterward. The art of presentation slides is actually quite simple: you put one main thought as a header and include bullet points (usually no more than 5 for one slide) that consist of 3-4 words. Use personal stories or ask the opinions of the audience about why this bullet point is important to keep them engaged throughout your virtual training session.
It is easy to get distracted and not pay attention during fully online, virtual training. However, the pandemic sped up the process of coming up with solutions to this problem.
I have highlighted the three most effective ways to keep learners engaged during even the longest virtual training session. These easy, practical strategies include engagement tools such as Mentimeter or Kahoot, breakout rooms for social interaction, and impactful slides for additional value to the presence of a trainer.
Mimeo is the leading provider of online, on-demand printing and digital content distribution services. We have been helping training professionals deliver better educational experiences through better course materials for over 20 years. We offer trainers a blended training solution through our Mimeo Print and Mimeo Digital platforms, allowing them to securely distribute printed and digital content to learners anywhere, anytime.
About the Author
Susan Craig has 8 years of experience as an educator and psychology-focused writer. In addition, she is a contributor to Mimeo.