If you design or deliver training for the virtual classroom, you'll want to draw from the neuroscience of learning for techniques to engage participants' attention and to help them retain critical information. Two brain-based learning principles described in this newsletter can lead to much greater effectiveness for virtual learning.
One Engagement Principle
Scientists have noted that "Neurons that fire together wire together." Stories, metaphors, and examples provide rich fodder for learning. If you want your sessions to engage participants with lasting content, wrap your key points in vibrant stories. Think about the most memorable learning experience you've attended recently. Chances are good that when you recall that experience, it comes with the memory of a speaker or a colleague in the class sharing a compelling story. As you retrieve those stories from your memory, you also access the core concepts of the training.
Encourage trainers and facilitators to share personal experiences that support the key learning points. Also write juicy questions that elicit success stories and challenges from participants. Go beyond rote memorization and repetition of information by adding storytelling to the mix and get those neurons firing and wiring.
One Retention Principle
Besides keeping their attention, we also want participants to remember and apply core skills. That means we have to help them move information from short-term memory to long-term memory. The problem is that our amygdala often acts as a filter, blocking information that it perceives as unnecessary or redundant. We have to bypass the "I already know that" filter, in other words. Storytelling is one way to do that, of course. But the brain-based principle to get the whole process started is called "prime the pump."
What are you doing BEFORE your participants arrive in your virtual classroom to engage their interest and attention? You want to ignite their desire to learn and prepare them for something new before they log in. Think about using a short video, a puzzling on-the-job challenge, or a self-assessment. Imagine telling the first part of a dramatic story in a web cam video, and then inviting them to come to the web workshop to get the rest of the story.
If you would like to know more about brain science and learning, plan to attend our next one-hour, complimentary webinar, Brain-based Learning in the Virtual Classroom, on Wednesday, August 16, 1:00 pm ET/10:00 am PT.
Download our latest infographic on these first six brain-based learning principles.
And mark your calendars for the September webinar, Achieving Maximum Retention: More Brain-based Principles for the Virtual Classroom, on Thursday, September 14, 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT.