Three Tips to Start Your Virtual Class with a Bang!

We’ve seen how it’s important to make learner participation a core feature of your virtual class design. You can make the most of the interactive features that virtual class technologies provide – chat, annotation, material distribution, tests and questions, polling, screen sharing, raising hands, using audio among many other tools to make for a more active learning experience.

Here we give three tips to help you launch your learning with zest:

Create an Icebreaker

There’s often a couple of dead minutes before your virtual class kicks off. Use this time to ask a fun question so that people can start to get to know each other and bond. It doesn’t really matter what the question is, you can ask what’s for lunch, how’s the weather where they are, or what their interests, favorite sports etc. include? It might seem a little light, but it’s a cool way to start people interacting. Use a strong visual.

Purpose: to get participants seeing each other as people and interacting.

Tool: Strong visual screen plus presenter question. Participants use Chat to answer.

How it works

As participants join, welcome them and voice the icebreaker activity. Comment in a continuous stream of thought as the answers pop up.

Great, welcome everyone and we’re doing an icebreaker activity as we all get together, I’m asking what the weather’s like where you are and what’s your favourite pet?

I see John in Seattle is having a bad time with the rain and his favorite pet is his adorable dog Blue,  Mirjam is basking in sunshine with her cat Lexi and …’

Use fun questions as an ice breaker to increase participation in virtual classrooms

Target in on Goals

As adult learners, it’s always important to know why we’re doing something. Focusing in on our goals makes what follows even stickier. Early on in your virtual session, ask your audience, why they’re here?

Purpose: to get participants engaged, activated and focused on their goals for your virtual classroom session.

Tool: Strong visual screen plus presenter question. Participants use audio to answer (if small group) or Chat.

How it works

After your welcome to participants, icebreaker activity and outline of housekeeping and any other technical issues, challenge everyone with a question, ‘Why are you here?’ Ask everyone to reflect on their purpose for attending the virtual classroom for a moment, and then share their motivation via audio, or chat.

Give them a few minutes to reflect and contribute, and then, if they’ve used chat for example, run through their contributions, using their names. This simple name-checking and nod at different learner goals, gets buy-in and develops a sense of class presence.

IN a virtual classroom, making participants answer the question 'why am I here?' helps them zone in on the purpose of them being there. In turn, this increases their level of engagement

Adapt Content to learner needs

If you feel courageous enough, you can ask your audience early in the session to react to your content structure. Show your lesson structure outline and either using an annotation tool, or chat, ask your learners for any additional areas they want to explore.

Alternatively, you can show a range of topics and ask them to vote on their top two to three choices.  

Purpose: to offer participants the most relevant content possible during your virtual classroom session.

Tool: Simple annotation shared screen plus presenter question. Participants highlight their interest area or vote up their top choice of content.

How it works

Show your lesson outline on screen and ask participants to place a green tick beside their preferred topics. Alternatively, present a poll with several options of content. Get your participants to vote.

And finally 

We are all hard-wired to value social connection. As people, we love to be involved, to contribute meaningfully and to be ‘seen’ by those around us, no matter what the context. Even in a time when our connections are purely virtual, this social need remains strong.

We can use the interactive features that virtual class technology provides to make for well connected, socially engaging, fulfilling, enjoyable and active learning experiences.

We have the tools. It’s down to our imagination.

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