In last week’s post, I shared five planning and design tips for remote learning. But even the best design can fall flat without expert facilitation. This week, I’ll share five tips for facilitating remote learning that’s more engaging and interactive.
Rob is facilitating remote learning for the first time. He has taught the class in person dozens of times, so he’s confident the remote version will go smoothly. He signs in about five minutes early, just like he would if he were hosting a virtual meeting. He stays on mute until 8:00 on the dot, when he begins with a 10-minute introduction of his background before launching into the first lesson. Then he talks until 9:15, when he stops for a break before resuming his lecture 10 minutes later.
At 10:30, he breaks the class into breakout sessions for a group activity. When he drops in on the groups to see how they’re doing, he notices only one of the groups seems to be focused on the task. He hears them ask each other where to find the worksheet they’re supposed to use. Another group is completely silent, and the third is trying to figure out microphone issues.
How many problems have you spotted in this scenario? What do you think Rob could have done differently to avoid these problems? How do you think the participants in his session are feeling? Let’s dive into my five tips for facilitating remote learning and see how they could help.
Facilitating remote learning requires many of the same skills and behaviors as teaching face-to-face. Charisma matters! Virtual instruction may require even more energy to keep participants actively engaged and interested among the many distractions that compete with your class for their attention.
Follow these guidelines to make your remote learning feel more like face-to-face:
With remote learning and the distractions that come with it, it’s more important than ever to provide many opportunities for participants to interact with you and each other. The longer they sit silently, the more likely they are to stay silent when you want them to speak up.
Follow these guidelines for asking questions to keep everyone engaged:
When sharing a presentation or document, it is best to share the particular application you’re using, such as PowerPoint or Word (if possible), rather than your entire screen. This uses less bandwidth and reduces distractions, such as emails or other messages popping up on the screen.
If you have to share your entire desktop, declutter it, shut down email, and exit any messaging applications.
When sharing a document, zoom in to enlarge it, and ask participants to share a “thumbs up” or happy emoji if they can read it comfortably or a “thumbs down” or sad emoji if they cannot.
If your session is on the long side, give participants a break after an hour or so. Use these guidelines for managing breaks effectively:
When going on break, provide a visual cue of how much time participants have. For example:
Ask participants to stop sharing video and stay muted while they are on break. (You should do the same!)
When returning from a break, ask participants to share a “thumbs up” status or other emoji to indicate that they are back. Alternatively, display a fun poll question that they answer when they come back from break.
Be sure to start back on time! This will the tone for the rest of the class and help hold participants accountable for returning on time.
A producer or assistant can help manage breaks.
Remember, your learners bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the class. They will get more out of your session if they’re allowed to work together and learn from one another.
Use breakout rooms to allow participants to work together on structured activities or discussions. Be sure to provide clear and detailed instructions before beginning breakout sessions, so participants know exactly what is expected.
If the virtual platform you use does not have breakout room capabilities, consider setting up a learner group within your learning management system or a social media platform that’s approved for use by your organization.
If participants are working on independent activities in the main room, be sure to mute yourself unless you need to speak to them.
Let’s go back to the scenario we began with. If I were coaching Rob, here are some things I’d advise:
Use the five tips I’ve presented in this post for facilitating remote learning, along with the five planning and design tips shared last week, to create and conduct virtual learning experiences that engage, inspire, and make a lasting impact.
What advice would you give Rob in our scenario? What tips for facilitating remote learning have worked best for you? Post a comment below.
We’ve made all 10 Tips for More Engaging & Interactive Remote Learning available as a FREE eBook. Download your copy here!
Also check out these articles for more information:
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