Keep your virtual learners awake and happy – so they can log off with new skills
My recent online nap
A few weeks ago, I accidentally took a little nap during a virtual class. Fell fast asleep. If not for muting, other participants might have heard a soft zzzzzzzzz.
Don’t get me wrong. I was interested in the content. I wanted to learn about it. But the instructor’s delivery was monotonous. And there was almost no interaction.
So I was bored, grumpy, and sleepy. When the class ended, I hadn’t learned much more than I already knew.
All in all, my accidental nap reminded me of three helpful tips for keeping virtual learners awake, happy, and learning. I’ve been lucky to learn them during my past 20 years leading virtual classes of 15 to 20 people. I hope one or two will come in handy for you.
Greet people as their names pop up during login
You can help everyone begin to enjoy being active by greeting them as they log in. It’s friendly, and it helps your learners expect a positive learning experience.
Open your class with everyone unmuted and greet them right away. Just say simple things like “Welcome, Name! Thanks for logging in early.” Or “How’s your day going?”
Or, if you already know an attendee – “Name, great to see you here. Thanks for coming!” If you know someone’s location, go ahead and ask about the weather. These days, everyone has something to say about the weather.
Of course, you can’t greet every learner when several names pop up at once. But they’ll all hear friendly human voices as they join the class.
Then they’ll feel ready and welcome to participate on screen or in Chat.
Help everyone get active right away—with a personal question about the training topic
What’s the virtual version of the in-person icebreaker? An interesting warm-up question to answer in Chat.
Here’s a personal approach that gets an active bang for your buck.
Ask everyone what they don’t like about the way people do whatever you’re training them to do.
For example, in one of my email writing classes, I ask everyone to list what they don’t like about other people’s email.
People like answering this type of question. They live with the answers every day at work and can type them into Chat right away. They’re also sure to give answers that the whole class can relate to.
Now that your learners have identified with each other, they can feel safe about interacting during the rest of the class. They can feel, “Hey, I can probably say what I really think.”
You’ve begun to create a community of active, receptive learners.
Give everyone 2 things to do at the same time – so they stay awake and keep learning
It’s easy to keep your learners busy and on-topic with two things at once. For example, you can customize a game for them to play privately while they’re also interacting with your slides.
Bingo’s a good example. Ahead of class, send everyone a Bingo board customized with “answers” they can find as they interact with your on-screen exercises. This gets everyone active on two layers of learning at the same time.
It’s kind of like that chewing gum in the green wrapper. Remember? Double your flavor/Double your fun?
And, like the gum, the training’s sticky.
No matter what game you use, send prizes. You can put a congrats GIF in Chat for each Bingo! Right after class, you can email an inexpensive gift certificate to a popular coffee shop. Or even send a small promo item in snail mail.
Your happy winners will remember what they learned!
Way back when, my first online training mentor told me to make sure my learners did something active every two or three slides. He said it was the best way to keep from putting everyone to sleep. He was right.
What’s in it for your learners to stay so active?
They’ll stay awake and feel like the time passed quickly
They’ll participate instead checking email or napping
They’ll log off happy
They’ll also remember a few things they can use right away.
Stephanie’s Freelance Writing Services
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