After more than 15 years with Langevin (how the time flies!), the number one question I still hear is, “How do you keep learners engaged in the classroom?” Let’s face it, no one likes listening to a boring lecture. Everyone wants their voice to be heard. Our learners have considerable experience and they want to speak, participate, and contribute to the session. How do we do this? By using a variety of instructional techniques, of course!
Some of you may know that I’m a HUGE Reality TV fan. It could be Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, or any franchise of the Real Housewives, the latter being my ultimate guilty pleasure. Yes, I enjoy watching five privileged, puffy lipped, pretentious women fight, act insane, and spend unreasonable amounts of money, but I digress.
Here’s the amazing part. Back in the day, people were very content to sit passively in front of their televisions and channel surf. Today, that’s no longer true. As I watch my favorite shows, I see tweets from fans, on the bottom of the screen, commenting on what they’re watching. Can you imagine? People want their voices heard, even at home. So, you can bet they want to be heard in the classroom!
Here are Langevin’s top 10 instructional techniques for keeping learners engaged:
1. Arrange for frequent small group discussions.
2. Ask for neighbor discussions to guarantee everyone participates. While we’re on the topic of discussions, check out this handy “Design a Discussion Quicksheet.”
3. When a question is asked, allow everyone to think before someone answers.
4. Ask everyone to write down their answers briefly before someone answers.
5. On occasion, ask people to stand after they have written down their answers. When everyone is standing, ask for answers.
6. When reading is required, give learners a task while reading (e.g. check off the most valuable items, check off the items that are new to them, etc.). This will help with retention.
7. In a course where many questions are asked, get the participant who answers a question to select the next person to answer. People pay closer attention when they know they’ll be called on. Plus, some have fun putting their friends on the spot!
8. Move away from the center of the room, sit rather than stand, or move to the back of the room to help take the focus off you.
9. After a lecture or discussion, ask groups to summarize the main points.
10. Use slip writing (e.g. ask everyone to write one question on a piece of paper and pass it to you). Read all questions out loud, then answer or relay a few questions back to the group.
For additional instructional techniques and tips for keeping learners engaged, check out our Advanced Instructional Techniques workshop. It’s filled with ideas on how to prevent boredom, address individual needs, incorporate fun, and use interactive lecture techniques, just to name a few.
Langevin Alumni, what else are you doing to keep your learners engaged? As an aside, any reality TV fans out there, and have I seen any of your tweets?