The virtual classroom holds so much unrealized promise and potential! We know that learners appreciate participating in collaborative, social learning experiences. And yet, hearing the siren call to multi-task during a virtual session, our brains need to be stimulated and challenged to keep our attention. If you understood the brain's needs, what might you do differently to engage your learners when training online?
Let's start with six guidelines that leverage the brain's need for novelty, contrast, meaning, and emotion:
1. Active engagement = active brains.
Keeping learners engaged every 2-3 minutes may seem like a tall order but the payoff is increased attention and learning transfer.
2. Neurons that fire together wire together.
How many learning modalities do you regularly use in your web workshops? Activating multiple senses leads to increased memory and recall.
3. Vision trumps all other senses.
Recognizing that web conferencing is a visual medium, what are you doing to make your slides visually stimulating and graphically rich?
4. Social learning fires mirror neurons.
We learn as much from watching others practice as we might from practicing ourselves. Add application exercises and roleplay to your web workshops to deepen the learning.
5. No pain - No gain (failure precedes success)
While learners might prefer to simply observe and take notes, more learning will take place if learners have the opportunity to make mistakes and fail to solve problems BEFORE learning what works and then applying that learning back to the original problems.
6. Practice makes permanent.
If you expect behavior change and skill development to take place, learners have to practice and apply new knowledge and skills, even in the virtual classroom.