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Wake 'Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning


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By Sharon Bowman. Seven ways to make e-learning interactive.

Published in: Education

Wake 'Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning

  1. 1. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 75 Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. By: Sharon L. Bowman, M.A. President, Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. Website: Email: Phone: 775-749-5247 Fax: 775-749-1891Pre-Reading Notes: Before you begin Please take 60 seconds to do the Fastreading this article, please print the note- Pass activity. As you continue reading,taking worksheet titled “First Think It, compare the strategies that you wroteThen Ink It,” on page 9. You will also down with the 7 tips in this article. Canneed a pen/pencil because you will be any of your strategies be listed under anywriting on this worksheet as you read. of the 7 tips?This article is formatted using the 4 CsAccelerated Learning instructional de- CONCEPTSsign process. To get the most from thisarticle, you are encouraged to participate E-learning means many things to manyalong the way. You will learn more, and people. For the sake of this article, we‘llbe able to apply what you learn, because define as e-learning any information thatof your participation. is electronically delivered. Included are: teleconferences (audio only), webinarsFor more information about the 4 Cs, log (audio and visual), synchronous or dis-onto and down- tance learning (live, real-time, virtualload the free article titled: “Bag It! A classes), and asynchronous learningQuick and Remarkably Easy Instruc- (computer-based courses attended bytional Design Process.” individuals at times of their own choos- ing).CONNECTIONS With the definition out of the way, let’s toss out two false assumptions about e- One-Minute Fast Pass learning: On your note- • E-learning is boring (it doesn’t have taking worksheet, to be). jot down the names or descriptions of a few interactive e- • E-learning is not interactive (it learning strategies should be!). you have used or have seen used. As with face-to-face training, the prob- lems of boring and non-interactive e- learning programs lie with the design 775-749-5247 ©2007 Sharon L. Bowman All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 76and delivery, not with the content or the • Interview an “expert” (someone wholearners. Even the most complex, techni- knows more than you do about thecal material can be made both interesting topic), and be ready to tell the classand interactive in quick, easy ways. And what you learned.even the most passive learners can beinvited to participate in short, interest- • “Google” the training topic, or key-catching learning activities. In fact, in words related to the topic, and beorder for any real learning to take place, ready to share what you learnedboth interest and interactivity have to be from your internet search.part of the program. Humans don’t learnwell unless they are interested and in- • Ask co-workers what they know orvolved throughout an entire learning ex- have heard about the topic and makeperience. a list of facts and opinions. Be ready to send this information via email toSo, how do you go about creating inter- the other class members.esting, interactive e-learning programs?Here are six simple ways to get started: • Make up a short, pre-training quiz with some questions you want an-1. Send Out Warm-Ups with swered during the training. SendBuilt-In Accountability. these questions via email to the in- structor.Warm-Ups are pre-program instructions, Give learners choices. For example, theysent via email, detailing a variety of can choose two of the five options to do,simple, topic-related activities learners or do all but one, or do one of the givencan choose from before the e-learning options and then make up one of theirclass begins. own. Build in accountability with each option. In other words, learners must show that they did one or more Warm-Ups. In the examples, learners must be ready to re- port their findings to the class, or send something to other learners or to the in- structor. During the e-learning program, begin with some of the Warm-Up reports. Or pause for a few minutes at different times during the training to have volun-Some examples are: teers share their reports.• Make a list of as many topic-related For an asynchronous course, learners can facts as you can that you already email their findings to their supervisor, know. Be ready to state some of these instructor, or to another person desig- facts during the class. nated in the course.Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  3. 3. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 772. Create an Interesting they are writing just because they haveGraphic Organizer. the page in front of them. Instead, say “This is profound, so write it down!” and then STOP SPEAKING to give themEmail a graphic organizer, that is, a time to do so.note-taking page (pdf format works best)to the learners - one that you’ve created You can also direct learners to drawbefore the e-learning class begins. doodles (icons, cartoons, squiggles, shapes, or images of metaphors) repre-The note-taking page should be visually senting the concepts being learned.interesting, with plenty of space for writ- Images help learners remember informa-ing and doodling. It should NOT be a tion longer than words alone.Powerpoint® handout with slide imagesand lines to write on - use these as re- As an alternative to an instructor-createdsources only. Instead, the note-taking graphic organizer, learners can createworksheet should have topic-related their own note-taking pages as well. Orgraphics, shapes, forms, and interesting they can write notes on various otherplaces to write or doodle. See examples materials: index cards, chart paper, tab-in the article “Nifty Notes” on the web- lets, paper bags, paper placemats, post-itsite notes, and the like. For asynchronous courses, printed in- structions can direct learners to do the same thing with note-taking pages, much as this article has done with you, the reader. 3. Begin with a Fast Pass. At the beginning of an e-learning class, participants are expecting introductions, technical information, program agendas, learning objectives, and any other housekeeping details that most training starts with. Imagine their surprise when you direct them (via voice, slide, or other visual) to jot down the three most important things they learned from theSend out an email reminder before the Warm-Ups they chose, and be ready toclass that tells participants to print the report this to the class. You give them anote-taking page and have it, and a minute or so to do this, then you beginpen/pencil, ready when the class begins. the class with their reports. If the class is large, you might ask for only a few re-During the program, be sure to stop and ports, saving the rest until later in thedirect learners to write important words, program.phrases, or concepts. DON’T assumeBowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  4. 4. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 78 Other examples of the Fast Pass include: • In the chat room on the webinar screen, jot down what you want to learn from this class, or a question you want answered. • On the webinar whiteboard, print a word or phrase associated with the topic. • Think of three things you alreadyWhat you are doing is creating interest know about the topic. When you areand involvement with a quick opening ready to tell the class what youactivity called a Fast Pass. This activity know, press the “hand” icon to raiseconnects learners to learners. It also your hand beside your name on theconnects learners to what they already screen.know and what they will learn. Further-more, it captures learners’ interest since • At your distance-learning site, brain-it is an unexpected way to begin a train- storm with the other participantsing. The novelty and immediate in- what you already know about thevolvement motivate learners to pay topic, and write your list on a chartattention. Later in the course, they will what they already know to the newinformation being presented. One-Minute Fill-in-the-After this quick, opening activity, you Blankscan include introductions, technical in-formation, agendas, and all the rest. On your note-taking worksheet, fill in theFor teleconferences, you verbally state blanks for the first 3what you want learners to do. For dis- interactive e-learningtance learning, each site’s participants tips. Check your an- swers by rereading thecan report to their respective site group. article up to this point.For asynchronous programs, the printedinstructions can direct learners to write ashort summary of what they learned inthe Warm-Ups, and send it to you via Once you have done the 60-second re-email. view activity described in the slide above, please continue reading.Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  5. 5. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 794. Follow the 10-Minute Rule. • Think and Write - On your note- taking page, write one sentenceRegardless of the type of e-learning class summarizing what you just are facilitating, ALWAYS use theten-minute rule, that is, break up your • Pair Share - In the chat room (or atslides, lectures, or printed material into your distance learning site) pair upsegments of about ten minutes in length. with another participant and shareIn between each ten-minute segment, the two most important facts from theinsert a short, one-minute activity that learners the opportunity to reviewthe information you just presented. • Shout Out - As a group, we need to state 8 new things we now know about the topic. • Whiteboard Writing - We’ll now take one minute for everyone to quickly write a word or phrase related to the information just covered. 5. Build in Body Breaks. Stop reading this article now and do theWhy ten minutes? Because that is the one-minute Body Break described in theaverage amount of time most people are slide below:used to listening to information beingpresented. Prime-time television pro-grams run about ten minutes in length, One-Minute Body Breakbetween commercial breaks. People During the next 60have become habituated to this time seconds, stand,frame, especially in “television- stretch, yawn, andsaturated” cultures like the U.S., where take a couple of deepTV viewing approaches 4 hours per day breaths. Walk oneper viewer. time around your chair or office andYou don’t need to simplify your content; then sit back down.just divide it into smaller lecture seg-ments. Close enough is okay. Ten min-utes is a guideline. Sometimes 15 - 20 The slide above just instructed you tominutes will work as well, but lecture stand and move. Could you instruct yourlonger than 20 minutes and you will e-learning participants to do the same?definitely be losing participants’ interest. Of course you can! There is no rule that says they have to be sitting during theHere are a few examples of the one- entire class. However, there IS one pow-minute review activities you can insert erful reason for learners to stand andbetween lecture segments:Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  6. 6. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 80move, especially during a lengthy train- • Mini-Walkabout - Stand up, anding: the human brain works better when walk one time around your chair,the learner is standing and moving breathing deeply as you do so.around. • Micro-Macro Stretches - A microMovement makes the blood circulate stretch is a small muscle like fingersbetter which, in turn, sends more oxygen and toes. A macro stretch is a largeto the brain. When training participants, muscle like arms and legs. We need aeven in e-learning classes, stand and volunteer to verbally lead us in a mi-stretch, they wake up their bodies and cro or macro stretch, telling us allminds. what part of the body to stretch as we stand. Written instructions for asynchronous programs can be printed directly into the material, much as the One-Minute Body Break was included as part of this arti- cle. 6. Become Familiar with Interactive Features - and Use Them.Will they do it? You have no way ofknowing for sure, but they probably will.After all, you are the “teacher” and theyare used to doing what teachers tell themto do. Besides that, they’ll feel betterstanding and stretching after sitting forawhile. So the suggestion benefits themon many levels.Vary the movements each time you sug-gest a stretch. And tell them why stand- Many computer-based programs have aing and moving helps them learn. number of interactive features built into them now. Explore the ones that areSome examples are: available to you and become familiar enough with them that you don’t have to• Stand, Stretch, and Speak - Stand up, learn them “on the fly,” that is, while stretch your body, and then state a you are training. Such interactive fea- topic-related fact you have learned tures may include: whiteboards, chat that you didn’t know before. rooms, hand icons, polling, applause, and other visual signals. You can alsoBowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  7. 7. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 81have participants circle important con- If you know how to set up a quick blogcepts with the electronic pencil, draw or wiki site, these can be ways todoodle representations of important con- lengthen the learning as well. Instructcepts on the whiteboard, or fill in the participants in how to access the blog orblanks. wiki to post their after-training insights, questions, best practices, etc. For more7. Lengthen the Learning with information on these two electronic learning tools, do an internet (google)Follow-Up Action Plans. search, or look over the blog and wiki books listed on Plans are the learners’ written orverbal commitments to use what theyhave learned. As such, Action Plans helplearners review and evaluate the new One-Minute Fill-in-the-information as they decide how they will Blanksput it all to practical use back on the job. On your note-takingAction Plans can also have an account- worksheet, fill in theability piece built into them as well. blanks for the last 4 interactive e-learningHere are a few examples: tips. Check your an- swers by skimming• On your graphic organizer, write the past 3 pages. one or two sentences describing how you plan to use this information at work. Also write the name of one other employee (or your supervisor) CONCRETE PRACTICE whom you will discuss your Action Plan with. Look back through this article now, and circle two or three interactive strategies• In the chat room, write your Action you have decided to include in your next Plan for how you plan to apply what e-learning class. When you have time, you’ve learned. Put your name be- re-design an entire e-learning program side your plan. We’ll copy the Action using these or other interactive strategies Plans and email them out to every- from this article. one when the class is over. As part of the Concrete Practice for this• On an index card, write one thing article, you can also do a quick Myth or you can do immediately with what Fact game to review major concepts. See you have learned. Tape this index the game instructions and cards on the card to your desk or bulletin board following page. at work. Send an email to the in- structor in a week letting her know how your Action Plan is going.Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  8. 8. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 82 One-Minute Myth or Fact CONCLUSIONS Sort the cards below into two groups by One-Minute Action Plan labeling each card M for Myth or F for Fact Think about what (careful: this isn’t you have learned. True or False!). Then On your note-taking check your answers. worksheet, describe your Action Plan: how you plan to use what you have learned. 2. Standing and mov-1. E-learning should ing helps participantsbe lecture-based, with learn better. Do the 60-second Action Plan describedminimal interaction. on the slide above. Then continue read- 3. Accountability ing. means learners have to show they did the Of course, by now you realize that this activity. article “walked the talk,” that is, it mod- 4. Graphic organizers are note-taking tools. eled many ways to create an interactive learning experience, even when the in- 5. Learners must re- formation-delivery method is just read- main seated during an ing. If a printed article like this can be e-learning made interactive, imagine what you can class. do with other e-learning media! 6. To create interest, 7. Divide your lecture send out pre-program Be creative! Experiment with these material into 10- Warm-Ups. strategies, make up your own, and share minute segments. what you have discovered. Begin to de- sign e-learning programs that capture 8. End with participant- and hold the interest and involvement of created Action Plans. your learners from the moment they log on until the moment they log off. 9. Begin with introduc- tions, agendas, and You’ll “wake ‘em up” and keep them technical information. interested, learning, involved, and want- ing more when the e-learning experience is over! Answer Key 1. M 2. F 3. F *********************** 4. F 5. M 6. F 7. F 8. F 9. M How did you do? If you got them all, bravo! Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  9. 9. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 83 Note-Taking:First Think It, Then Ink It!Topic: 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning.Fast Pass: In this box, take one minute to jot down the namesor descriptions of a few interactive e-learning strategies you have used or have seen used. Fill-in-the-Blanks: 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. Fill in the blanks with the missing words. 1. Send out _____________ ________ with built-in ___________________________. 2. Create an interesting __________________ ____________________________. 3. Begin with a _______________ ____________________. 4. Follow the _________ - __________________ rule. 5. Build in ____________________ _________________________. 6. Become familiar with _________________________ features. 7. Lengthen the learning with follow-up _______________ _________________. My Action Plan: In the space below, describe how you plan to use what you have learned. Bowperson Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved.
  10. 10. Wake ‘Em Up! 7 Tips for Interactive E-Learning. 84This article is part of Sharon’s newestbook, to be published in 2008 by PfeifferCo., a division of John Wiley & Sons.Log onto for Sharon’sfive popular training books already inprint.Log onto Sharon’s website for other free,downloadable PDF-formatted articlesabout effective training. *********************** Resources for this article: The Accelerated Learning Handbook. David Meier Sharon Bowman helps educators and business people “teach it quick and Mapping Inner Space. make it stick,” - fine-tuning their in- *********************** Nancy Margulies formation-delivery skills and turning their passive listeners into active learn- Michael Allen’s Guide to E-Learning. Michael Allen ers. Preventing Death by Lecture. Sharon is also the president of Bowper- Sharon Bowman son Publishing & Training, Inc., profes- sional member of The National The Ten-Minute Trainer. Speakers Association (NSA), and Sharon Bowman member of The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD). ********************** *********************** Over 70,000 of her popular training * books are already in print. For more information about Sharon and her books and training services, log onto, or email her at For book orders, go to: Bowperson Publishing at 775-749-5247 The following page contains a “Bag It!” ******************** job-aid for you - feel free to print it andBowpersonyour next training. use it in Publishing & Training, Inc. 775-749-5247 ©2007 All rights reserved. You can also reprint this article and share it with colleagues - just please cite the source.