Imagine you’re attending your first year of medical school. You’re excited because today you’re supposed to learn about a basic surgery — the appendectomy. You get to class and your instructor spends an hour talking about the appendectomy procedure. She includes slides and a video presentation as part of her lecture, and by the end of class you feel like you’ve learned some important information. Then, your instructor says, “Okay, I’ve told you everything you need to know about how to perform an appendectomy. Tomorrow, we’re going to send you out to different hospitals and you’re all going to perform an appendectomy on a patient by yourself. I hope you took good notes.”
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But that is how you expect your sales, marketing, customer service, supervisor and management teams to “operate” when you limit the amount of training or provide training in a primarily lecture-based program? Do you feed them information with the proverbial “firehose” and then expect them to employ and deploy it when they go back to their desk or into the field?
If you want your employees to retain and apply information, you need to help them make it their own. Research indicates that learners who engage in active learning, or activity-based learning, absorb far more than they do when they sit passively, listening to lectures.
Some of the benefits of activity-based learning are:
- Long-term memory retention
- Development of analytical thinking
- Increased collaboration skills
- Real-world connection to the information learned
In fact, as mentioned in the last article in this series, a 2019 study found that students who were taught certain material using activity-based methods scored 10 percentage points higher when tested on that material than their counterparts, who were given the exact same information via lecture.
“But wait,” I hear you say, “that’s all well and good for a traditional classroom, but how am I supposed to implement activity-based learning virtually?”
Here are just a few suggestions. With a little research, effort and time commitment, you’ll learn that there is “virtually” no limit to the number of activities and ideas you can incorporate in virtual training that will boost attention, engagement, retention, and performance.
Immersive learning leverages technology like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mobile devices to virtually create various environments in which learners control outcomes and engage in experiences that are realistic without being real. It is a highly engrossing and informative methodology. Immersive learning environments are focused on ensuring everyone gets involved in the program through multiple types of learning tools.
Letting the learners own their learning experience is also an immersive learning technique. Instead of the instructor owning everything during the training session, by making the content/material available for each person to review in their own unique learning style, you’ve automatically immersed them in the learning environment. If reviewing a video impacts my learning more than reading an article, this type of immersion is available, and the beauty of that is, what I do doesn’t impact what another learner wants to do. These types of immersive learning tools are found in virtual learning environments like Jigsaw Interactive.
John Buelow, executive vice president of Shapiro Negotiations Institute, asserts, “Role-playing provides a safe environment [in which] to encounter different scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles.” Practice makes perfect, right? Role-playing is an engaging and instructive way to practice.
Small Group Projects
You can incorporate small-group work in a virtual learning environment with tools like Jigsaw Interactive’s customizable breakout rooms. Small group projects expose learners to diverse perspectives, teach learners to teach, promote collaborative mindsets, help members leverage each other’s skills, and instill negotiation and critical thinking techniques.
Back to Engagement and Its Value in Virtual
No matter the type of, level of or number of training programs you’ve been in or led, the fact that engagement is critical to attention and learning is apparent. The ability and opportunity to do multi-level engagement in virtual training has been restricted and dictated by the web conferencing systems begin used. These barriers have been shattered by a new technology solution that was built specifically for training and learning. Jigsaw Interactive is a virtual learning environment that lets your learners own their experience and focus on engagement and learning while your trainers become more of a coach and sponsor of an activity-based event.
Increasing engagement in all virtual learning events will increase performance and productivity. It can also help you assess critical thinking skills, teamwork, leadership skills and an overall level of employee engagement. These are all critical areas for ensuring you have the right players in the right roles.