Johannesburg, 21 Jul 2015
Like many core processes in business, excellence in training depends on relationships. Trainers who can build rapport with learners have a better chance of holding class attention. When instructors inspire their participants to work together to solve problems, and provide opportunities for participants to actively engage with the learning content they will be more likely to learn new concepts and retain knowledge.
In a training session, instructors and participants are under time constraints that can make it challenging to allow relationships to develop organically. Most often instructors will use rapport-building exercises such as having each participant tell the class something about themselves or the instructor shares an anecdote to kick off the training session.
These techniques can help create engagement, but their utility tends to be limited. Not all participants are enthusiastic about public speaking - in fact, most people aren't and in fact fear it. Participants are more likely to spend the time before their turn to speak dreading their moment in the spotlight than listening to their peers and learning something about them.
Another popular option is the instructor tells an amusing story which can help break the ice, it's a top-down communication that rarely does more than briefly capture the participants' attention.
A more effective approach is one that allows instructors to engage in a two-way conversation and enables all participants to participate in the training session without fear of humiliation.
Many instructors have found an ideal solution to this dilemma in response technology. With response technology, they can embed questions into PowerPoint slides and allow participants to answer anonymously using clickers or smartphones. Instructors can then display the aggregate response data on screen in chart form.
This technique provides immediacy since instructors can instantly display aggregate data in an array of chart types. It also enhances engagement since every student has an opportunity to participate - without having to speak up in class. Instructors find that this technique is more inclusive since even those who fear public speaking and dislike attention can participate without raising their hands or voices.
With the right response technology solution, instructors can embed questions throughout the PowerPoint presentation to keep engagement levels high. Participants are more likely to follow the lesson plans and pay attention - even during a long presentation - when they have the opportunity to give their feedback and compare their own reaction to those of their peers.
Response technology can also help instructors spark discussions among participants and encourage cooperative problem solving. Depending on the type of response technology software they use, teachers can embed a variety of question types including multiple choice, yes-no questions and open-ended queries that are specifically designed to facilitate discussions.
Research shows that when participants work together to solve problems and arrive at a correct answer, they are more likely to retain knowledge. When instructors can make open-ended questions a part of the lesson plan, they can encourage and facilitate class discussions, providing guidance while participants collaborate to resolve issues - and gain lasting knowledge. Essentially the more the participants engage with the content during the lesson in an active fashion the better the learning outcome will be.
By using response technology, instructors also the ability to gauge the participants knowledge retention in real-time. Rather than relying on responses from a few engaged participants in the front row, teachers can ask questions that are designed to assess material mastery and get instant data on how well the entire class has understood the lesson. On the basis of that data, they can choose to move on or stay on the same topic.
Although corporate training brings participants and instructors together, it can be an isolated experience when conducted under the traditional top-down lecture model. Instructors who are seeking new ways to engage participants and maintain focus should take advantage of technology that makes give-and-take in the classroom simple. It's a fantastic way to liven up the discussion and ensure better knowledge retention through effective engagement.