Making new norms to keep learning impactful
There is no doubt that the pandemic has impacted every aspect of our lives, and the learning and education fields are definitely feeling the effects. One of the biggest shifts has been pivoting in-person learning to virtual classrooms. While technology plays a huge part in making learning more accessible, maintaining the “personalized” feel that comes with in-person learning is crucial to ensuring you are meeting learners where they are at—and providing them with the support they need to be successful.
When talking with friends and colleagues in the education space, it’s the ways that they are employing personalization that are making the difference in keeping their students focused and engaged. We’ve pulled together four ways that you can start making the virtual classroom just as impactful as in-person learning.
Meet Your Learners Where They’re At
The switch to virtual classrooms offers instructors the opportunity to get to know the learners, and adapt the learning to them, possibly even better than before. Taking time to send out questionnaires or surveys to get an understanding of where your learners are at, what their learning environment is like, or where they may be emotionally are all things that can help you cultivate a more personalized learning experience. You can reference this information as you plan out digital learning activities or lesson plans (check out our blog on Learner Empathy and developing Learner personas for one example of how this can be done).
You may also find out what motivates your learners. One of the educators we talked with shared how some of the platforms they are using with students creates ways for them to earn tokens or points that they can put toward playing online games. Things like reward systems or leaderboards can help create more of an investment for the learner — and who doesn’t like a little friendly competition?
No Such Thing as Too Much Communication
Well, clear communication, that is. We are all being flooded with so much information right now, so clear and concise communication is vital. Keep your communications short and simple, allowing the learner to quickly gather the information or direction they need from it, as well as be able to quickly reference back to it, if needed.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE getting ‘snail mail,’ a.k.a actual letters in the mail! Receiving a handwritten note instantly makes the message that much more meaningful. And while you may not be able to masterly craft hundreds of personalized notes, taking that same sentiment and applying to any other communications can go a long way. Take time to touch base at an individual level, let your learners know that you see them - offer up words of encouragement if you see they need support, and make sure to give them a congratulatory “shout-out” for things they are really doing awesome at.
Make It Fun
Interspersing some fun and levity into virtual instruction can help your learners stay engaged and connected.
One of the best virtual sessions I’ve attended had each of us select a unique background of a place we had visited, we loved, or wanted to travel to. At the beginning, each learner was spotlighted, and the others would guess where the images were from. The spotlighted learner would then share a little bit about the place and themselves. This 10-20 minute activity set the whole tone for the rest of session by sparking creativity and conversation right at the start. It also gave all of us an opportunity to connect and share with each other before going through the rest of the session together.
We’re all adapting to having the majority of our time (and lives) be online, and so finding ways to filter in some fun helps break up the time spent in front of the screen. It is also making the learning memorable – connecting with your learners on various levels provides another way to engage with them.
Identify Resources and Support for Yourself
Sometimes the best resources you have available to you are your colleagues. They already know and are aware of any limitations or struggles you may be experiencing, and they may have the best answers to questions or fresh ideas. They are also in the thick of it with you – so when you need a pick-me-up or sounding board, they know exactly where you are at and can be there to help – or just be there to listen.
Additionally, creating re-occurring times to connect with your team can provide a way for them to continue to connect and grow with each other. Creating a space to collaborate and brainstorm gives insight to what others teaching experiences have been, how they have reached their learners, and what isn’t working. It’s a time to collaborate but also connect and check-in with each other, providing support or advice where needed.
Virtual learning is going to continue to evolve, and with it how we reach and teach our learners. We have a few more articles that may help inspire you as you continue to expand your curriculum:
- 20 Creative Ideas to Inspire Your Next eLearning Project
- What to Do When You’re Stuck
- Spring into Fresh Ideas and Inspired Content
- 4 Tips for Pivoting Your Training
- It Takes More than Coffee to Keep Your Participants Engaged
Want to continue the conversation, or need some more support? Let us know in the comments!