I had so much fun gathering and arranging ideas for my ATD@Home virtual presentation on curiosity and creativity. If you were unable to attend, here is one of my ideas for stimulating curiosity, even in an online session.
Curiosity can be defined as the gap between what we know and what we seek to understand. To make this a bit more concrete, try my Mind the Gap strategy.
Create a t-chart slide, labeling the top of the left column What do I/we know? And the right column What do I/we want to know?
Ask participants to create a similar chart on their paper and quietly reflect on the left column as it relates your topic or problem. After 1-2 minutes of reflection, ask participants to share and add to the slide. A sales team created the following example:
Next, ask participants to reflect silently on questions for the What do we want to know? column. After 1-2 minutes, lead them in a sharing, adding to the slide. Encourage questions that are “outside the box.”
Once the knowledge gaps have been identified and curiosity piqued, there are many ways you can structure further gathering of information. Individuals can explore topics, teams can review research or gather new data or you can bring in a consultant to fill the gaps.
If you have gaps in your knowledge about how to engage virtual learners or wake up your audiences, I'd be happy to work with you to upskill your trainers and facilitators. Reach out today!
Creative solutions often come from people who are willing to ask “Why?”
To encourage my teammates and session participants to
ask more why questions, I created a simple activity I call
The 5 Why’s Challenge. To grab attention I preface it with a short video clip of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from a few years ago and explain that this will be much easier!. Then I share that everyone will be participating in a different type of challenge today. They are to ask 5 why questions at some point during the session. I encourage everyone to draw 5 check boxes on a sticky note or piece of paper and keep track of how often they ask a why question. To support them, I show a slide with some question stems that begin with why and model a few examples.
Depending on your topic and desired outcome, it can also be helpful to provide your participants with a greater variety of question stems. You can download those here.
For more ideas on how to encourage creativity and curiosity, check out my session during the ATD@Home Conference, August 29-September 1, or contact me directly to schedule something for your talent developers.
You spent hours designing the course. Marketing created enticing registration announcements. The slides and materials are ready to go. You've had a good night's sleep and just the right amount of coffee. The first people begin to arrive. What do they see?
Our conference space sends immediate messages to our participants. Drab, cold and uncomfortable spaces might be saying "Be prepared for a long, boring day," or even worse, "We don't care enough to make the room comfortable and enticing." The time spent sprucing up your space pays big dividends in the long run. Watch this video to see a recent transformation I did prior to a training class.
My goal is to add color, dimension and activity to each table or space. I add things to walls (when permitted), provide sticky notes and arrows, dots, markers, doodle sheets, extra paper and Quick Read QR codes for early arrivals. These are the standard items, and then other things are added based on the content and activities I have planned.
What are your standard items for sprucing up your learning space?
* I originally wrote this piece in early March of 2019, just before the pandemic hit and all in-person events came to a halt. Now that we are beginning to return, I felt it was finally time to post it.
Did you know that the human stomach has gastric folds within it that allow it to stretch to contain up to 4 liters of food and fluid? This makes me think of the accordion blinds that hang in my office window.
This is one of many facts I am learning as I study anatomy – a COVID quarantine way to pass my time. Trying to learn something that is totally new and unconnected to my career path or other hobbies has been a fascinating journey. It has given me the opportunity to consider and apply the cognitive and neuroscience research from the perspective of the learner. This, in turn, has led me to create even more ideas to support the learners in my training sessions.
For example, we know from research that making connections between prior and new knowledge improves understanding and retention. Instructors often use analogies to assist learners in making these connections. While helpful, these are instructor-driven rather than learner-driven. Given that not all learners have the same background or personal interests, it has been proven more effective to have the learners create their own connections. Here’s a simple and effective way to do it:
Telling isn't that same as teaching. Participating isn't the same as learning. So pack your session with research-based ideas like this one. Want more? Contact me to discuss how we can customize some professional learning activities for your team.
Tired of hearing “we can’t” or “it’s impossible”? Sick of low expectations and negative mind sets? This winning strategy is a surefire way to make a strong point while also engaging virtual participants in a multi-modality activity.
1. Think of a word or phrase that you would like participants to remove from their discussion or attitude.
2. Direct everyone to grab a piece of scrap paper or sticky note, while you do the same.
3. Ask everyone to write the word or phrase on their scrap. Show a model in your video feed.
4. Direct all who are able to stand up. Once everyone is ready, ask them to crumple the scrap and toss it into the nearest recycling bin.
5. Facilitate as much follow-up discussion as you’d like.
I love simple ideas! If you do, too, check out my book Caffeinated Training Design or contact me at 720-934-1508 to design an idea-packed session for you and your colleagues. Here is a sample of feedback from my latest ATD session:
Learners of all ages like having control over their experiences. While it isn't always possible to give over complete control, we can build in choices that honor their preferences.
One approach is to offer two or more video clips on the same topic. Here's an example of how I did this in a recent virtual session on presentation skills. I found two different clips that addressed the design of instructional slides, lasting approximately the same amount of time. While the clips took very different approaches, the essential message was similar. Then I created a slide with QR codes so that my virtual participants could choose to scan either one.
After enough time passed, I asked participants to summarize their learning in the chat using 5 words or less. I encouraged everyone to look for patterns and we had some open discussion about their thoughts.
You can accomplish the same thing by providing two different links for learners to click but I like the variety of using QR codes and mobile phones. The change of pace helps to keep engagement high.
I'd love to share more ideas with your work team. Contact me to discuss a custom-designed option!
"People who shine from within don't need the spotlight."
This popular saying may apply to many circumstances but falls short in the virtual meeting world. When we have more than six people in a virtual meeting, it can be difficult to identify who is talking so that we can pay attention to their message. Our eyes get distracted by the cat walking across someone's desk, or the person who is clearly checking their phone messages while 'listening.'
Instead of losing everyone's attention and allowing engagement to drop, use the Spotlight tool in your virtual platform. Zoom, Google Meets and Microsoft Teams all have a version (and others probably do, too.) Spotlight will hold a person's video feed in the forefront so that everyone can easily see them while they speak, maximizing the strength of their message with clearer facial expressions and hand gestures.
Here's how easy it is to do in Zoom:
Zoom allows you to Spotlight up to 9 speakers at once. This is very helpful for panel presentations at a large conference.
Little things like this can make a big impact - especially when you combine several of them! For more tips - big and small - contact me to work with your trainers and facilitators.
With all the talk and writing about the Left and the Right over the last few months, the terms were kind of stuck in my head. Lately, I've been trying to be very intentional about turning anything negative into a positive, so I decided to do something with Left and Right that would flip the feeling. Here's how you can do it, too!
During your next virtual training, ask everyone to put their video feed on, stand up and center themselves in the view. Then share one or more statements, directing them to step to the left if they agree or to the right if they disagree. You might make statements specific to your content or more generic ones, such as:
My participants shared that they liked watching their colleagues move from their center position, and even predicted which way they might move! As a presenter, their movement gave me some real-time formative assessment data. Not to mention that movement increase alertness and memory. And the best part - no prep or cost!
I am now scheduling for live online training sessions for 2021. Contact me to explore a customized program for you and your colleagues. Here's some feedback from recent participants in one of my sessions.
The chat feature in platforms like Zoom has become a very popular way to engage participants in responding to questions. Especially helpful with large audiences, it allows everyone to respond without having to spend time waiting for individuals to unmute, ramble on, and then be reminded to mute themselves again. However, these chat responses often reflect lower level thinking and don’t lead to deep learning.
One chat protocol that I have used successfully looks like this (always posted on a slide for clarity):
Always remember to allow some silent think time after sharing the question and before the chat begins. I call this a Purposeful Pause. Depending on the question, I might ask for a 10 to 60 second Purposeful Pause.
When it appears that everyone has answered, except for the select group, I then ask participants in the select group to unmute and share a response to one of the chat comments. If needed, I might call on someone by saying “Trin, would you like to share or pass?” (I find that the initial chat comments are often more thoughtful when those people know that others will be carefully reviewing their comments and selecting one to respond to publicly.)
After the select group has responded, consider taking it a step further by asking anyone in the group to react to the verbal comments. Now we see dialogue among participants that may go a bit deeper. Depending on the conversation, I might wrap up the activity by asking everyone to spend 30 – 60 seconds doing some silent written reflection.
I will share more chat protocols in the future. Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below!
I currently live in the Eastern time zone but am used to traveling across time zones quite regularly. Technology automatically updates my phone and other devices, so there has never been any confusion or missed starts. Now that I am working from home so often with businesses in other time zones, things can get fuzzy. Is it 9:45 or 10:45? Are we returning from lunch at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00? How much time do I have left in the session?
If you are feeling fuzzy too, here are three simple tips for zooming across time zones.
1. Obtain a small digital clock (travel size works well) and place it on your desk. Set the time zone for wherever the company is located. If all participants are in that time zone, use it as your main clock, and avoid looking at your watch or devices.
2. If participants are attending from a variety of time zones, use phrases such as “we will return from lunch at the top of the hour” or “let’s come back from break at quarter after” rather than mentioning a specific hour.
3. Use a timer app on your computer and share this screen at breaks, showing the time counting down until everyone should return. For Mac users, try an app called TimerByTen. Some platforms include an embedded timer tool, and there are several free online timers.
I was grateful to get Tip #1 from Frank, a colleague with a gift for practical solutions. If you have a practical solution for facilitation and training in the virtual world, please share!
I have two openings left for sessions on Caffeinated Virtual Training Design between now and the new year. Contact me today to discuss how to boost your virtual engagement and keep participants wide awake and learning!
For even more ideas...
Anne Beninghof is passionate about teaching and learning.
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