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Keeping Learners from Tuning Out - Techniques for Creating Engaging Virtual or Hybrid Learning Environment


Developing a best-in-class training program starts with engagement. From polling and quizzes to content chunking and small-group breakout sessions—there are a multitude of techniques to keep learners from tuning out. These techniques can take a mediocre training program and turn it into an engaging event.

Virtual learning environments can make it particularly difficult to engage learners. While the virtual aspect of the training offers the most learning potential and efficiencies, the biggest concern is that virtual students will simply “tune out” because they are not physically in the classroom. One of the best ways to mitigate this is to utilize a hybrid learning environment rather than purely virtual training. Hybrid learning incorporates virtual learners into a live instructor-led classroom. When it is done correctly, hybrid learning provides an equal learning environment for learners regardless of whether they are virtual or physically in the classroom.


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Whether you are working with a hybrid environment or traditional virtual learning, there are creative instruction techniques that can help you maintain and even stimulate participation to keep students engaged in the learning. Here are five delivery tactics to help take your virtual training program to the next level:

1. Use Google docs or a digital whiteboard for brainstorming or “shout outs”

Encourage learners to collaborate with digital tools. Google Docs or a digital whiteboard allows you to share content with both in-class and virtual learners simultaneously, allowing for real-time comments and feedback.

2. Break out into small groups

Even though students are dispersed between the physical classroom and the virtual environment, this doesn’t mean that they can’t work together. There are virtual learning platforms that provide effective two-way communication between in-class and virtual learners.

Take advantage of these video-conferencing platforms by incorporating breakout sessions: present a problem or question and ask learners to collaborate on a solution. Partner remote participants with each other or mix it up by having remote participants meet with in-class learners in dedicated virtual rooms to collaborate.

3. Create polls using chat or online tools

Create questions that reinforce learning to test participants’ knowledge or get the class thinking beyond the content. Many virtual platforms include a robust set of collaboration tools that allow you to use chat to conduct polls and report real-time results.

4. Use the Internet to keep learners engaged

The Web contains a plethora of facts and content that can supplement learning. Develop an online scavenger hunt where learners use the internet to hunt for answers to a specific question or complete a task. Be sure to set a time limit and conclude the activity with an interactive discussion.

5. Use short quizzes throughout the training

Create short online quizzes to test for comprehension and knowledge transfer. Knowing there will be regular quizzes given throughout the session will keep learners engaged and focused on the material.

By taking advantage of the resources offered in a hybrid learning environment, you can create richer, interactive content for your training. This can not only keep your students engaged and learning, but enhance the learning experience for both instructors and students.

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