Are you a memory champion? If not, you are probably like the rest of us – you have fairly good recall when you are attentive and engaged. However, if your mind wanders or you attempt to multi-task or you are anxious, etc., your ability to recall what you are learning diminishes.
Try the following exercise, without scrolling down the page! Give yourself 30 seconds to attempt to memorize the following display of 15 symbols. After 30 seconds, look away and write down as many, in order, as you can remember. Then check your accuracy.
How well did you do? If you got all 15 correct, you may have the makings of a memory champion! You should be quite pleased with yourself. Most of us, though, don’t do all that well. We need our information to be chunked in order to remember it better. Now try the following exercise, with the same approach – 30 seconds to memorize, look away and write down as many as you can.
I’d bet real money on your improvement. When information is presented and studied in chunks, it is much easier to make sense of and remember. This “chunking” is essential for virtual instruction because so many distractions abound. The refrigerator calls, others in the house are making noise, no one is watching, etc. Most experts suggest that virtual lecture should not last more than 3-5 minutes before providing learners with an opportunity to process, discuss, retrieve or in some way interact with the information. This is especially important for anyone who might have a learning disability or attention deficit disorder.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite, simple ways to add processing time with any content:
Before your next virtual session, review your plan and check to see if you have chunked the content, allowing processing and interaction every 3-5 minutes. Not only will you increase your learner engagement, you will increase learner outcomes!
After sitting through one virtual session after another, most participants are craving some movement and variety! As a facilitator or trainer, it is my challenge to create ways to incorporate both, while addressing the learning goals. I tried something new this week and it worked so well!
Find a moment in your meeting or class when you want to emphasize one of the following points:
Direct your participants to make clockwise circles on the floor with their right foot and keep it going. Then ask them to simultaneously use a finger to air write their first name in cursive. After a few seconds, ask them to chat in or share verbally how successful they were. Most of my participants admitted to a massive "FAIL." Facilitate some discussion about why it was difficult.. Try it yourself right now!
The exercise allowed me to make a point, related to my content, about cognitive overload and also added a novel movement opportunity for my participants.
As talent developers, we have the creative capacity to develop myriad ways to keep our audiences awake and engaged with the learning. I'd love to hear some of your successful strategies!
Looking for even more ideas? I am working with groups across the globe, sharing tips for how to make virtual sessions highly engaging. Contact me to explore what I can do for you. firstname.lastname@example.org
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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