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ATD Blog

How to Create Engaging Online Training

Thursday, August 18, 2022

When the world went on lockdown because of COVID-19, training teams had to think quickly to react to the immediate need to deliver training online. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx became familiar vocabulary.

Workplaces have appreciated the flexibility and productivity of working from home, and it has become the “new normal.” Jobs are advertised as remote or a hybrid between the home and office. This creates a new challenge for meeting our clients’ training demands as face-to-face training is not the standard.

Yet, training via e-learning is not the answer. Can you transition face-to-face training to an e-learning course? Yes, but some training should be delivered by a facilitator. It’s easy to complete an e-learning training package by skimming through it—this is the biggest risk with e-learning. Participants must be highly motivated to complete, engage in, and retain the training. In today’s fast-paced environment, time and competing priorities are against the learner.

Consider these approaches to enhance your online training:

Pick the right platform to deliver training.

  • Choose a platform that is focused on training delivery and not just for meetings.
  • Ensure it is easy to use for you and the participants.
  • Consider if you should train people on how to use the platform.

Know the features of your platform.

  • Break down the features so they can be explicitly included in your training.
  • Review screen sharing, file transfer, group chat, private chats, questions and answers, polls, whiteboards, annotations, and any other relevant tools.

Identify how you can use the features in your training.

  • Avoid too much trainer talk.
  • Remember that the chat is becoming an overused feature in online training.
  • Find creative and fun ways to use the chat.

Keep participant numbers to a minimum.

  • Don’t add too many people into your session.
  • Engage with everyone in attendance.

Here are some interaction suggestions to help you engage your learners:

  • Chat races: Ask questions and have everyone race to put their answer in the chat. Keep it competitive and award points for the first correct answer. Record the points on a whiteboard for all to see.
  • Hot potato: Have all participants write a response or a step on a whiteboard or in the chat one at a time but as quickly as they can. Attach a speedy time limit per answer. Use the participant list for the order so they know when it’s their turn. This can be done verbally as well.
  • Paired chat: Pick or assign partners, and have them send a private message to each other to discuss a topic or troubleshoot a problem.
  • Round robin: Have participants take turns typing answers via the chat or on a whiteboard. With no set order, select the participants whose turn it is next to keep them on their toes.
  • Take your pick: Put questions on a whiteboard, and have participants claim a question. They can answer verbally or use the text tool to write their answer.
  • Role play: Use a slide to set the scene and allocate roles. Because verbal role play is intimidating, have the conversation in the chat or on a whiteboard.
  • Storytelling: Use a blank table, and ask participants to select a row. They are not allowed to leave any gaps. Provide the topic and write in the first entry. Participants take turns writing in the next entry in the order of the row they selected. This is great for recalling a process.
  • Polls: Use a poll for critical questions. This ensures everyone replies, and you can identify who requires additional assistance. Vary questions between multiple choice and open-ended.
  • Videos: Use videos to deliver content that can be long-winded or confusing to simplify the learning and give participants a break from hearing from you.
  • Gamification: Use games as a review activity (divide participants into groups to play). Use PowerPoint Articulate or Captivate to create them. There are heaps of free templates.
  • Simulations: Use Articulate or Captivate to create simulations and allow participants to construct their own understanding. Send the link to the simulation via the chat.
  • Oddball: Use the annotation features to allow participants to select the incorrect content displayed on a slide or whiteboard.
  • Breaks: Recharge everyone’s brain power with regular breaks. Encourage everyone to walk away from their desk. When returning from breaks, run a quick icebreaker activity. Use whiteboards and annotations to draw something, spot the difference, find a word, finish a song lyric, or name a logo.
  • I’m waiting: Monitor when activities are completed by having participants write an answer to a quiz question in the chat. Enter a separator (--------) in the chat to end the previous chat before starting an activity.
  • Tag you’re it: If you have lots of demonstrations, share your screen and give control to a participant to have them drive for you.

By incorporating frequent interactions, your participants will be busy participating in activities and engaged in your training.

About the Author

As an instructional designer, Kylie Hughes has 10+ years of experience designing and delivering effective classroom, virtual, and e-learning training for systems-based training. She is an innovative and passionate advocate of quality training design and delivery in a rapidly changing 21st century. She believes good quality, learner-centric training is created when instructional designers stop developing information and start developing learning experiences.

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Very good activities to inrease engagement
Thank you
Thank you, increased engagement is really important in facilities training. Enjoy the activities.
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Awesome article!
Thanks for your lovely feedback, I hope you get some value from the article.
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I love that last suggestion of having the students drive the demo. Great way to review and increase participation.
Thanks for your feedback. The student demo is also a great tool to help learners that might be struggling to keep up or grasp the content as they will effectively complete activities twice.
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