Before the course starts check that your learners can access the devices and data / internet required to participate. Check what support options your organisations have in place to help learners who do not have the devices and connections they need. Our provider page also has contact details of device refurbishment companies and organisations that help people get an internet connection through the Skinny Jump initiative, if you’d like to pass them directly on to learners.
Share a lesson plan ahead of time - Real-time learning can create a lot of uncertainty. Help learners prepare by providing an overview of what they will be doing and learning and assign tasks for them to do ahead of class. Hyperdocs has a range of templates as well as tutorials that tutors may find useful for creating lesson plans.
Check in - A social check-in at the start of class can support a sense of community within your class and serve as a good warm up for the activities to come.
Break it up - Structure the learning into small chunks of information with breaks in-between. For example, schedule no longer than 10 minutes for any heavy lecture-based sections within your runsheet.
Plan your lessons so they’re 90-minutes or less - Avoid video-conference fatigue for both tutors and learners by keeping classes to 90 minutes or less and include frequent breaks.
Offer learners the opportunity to shape the class - Ahead of time, provide learners with opportunities to give guidance as to how they would like their learning environments to look and feel. For example, give them a taste of polls and different apps to find out which ones they prefer.
Frame up the rules at the start - Video conferencing software often includes chat boxes and reaction functions (thumbs up, clapping hands, or raised hand). Assign each reaction a clear purpose and encourage their use. For example, while the chat box is valuable for learners to write questions in, ‘thumbs up’ can be a useful way to gauge whether everyone understood a topic before moving on – it’s much easier to see a thumbs up than reading facial reactions (or black screens!). You might also encourage ‘hand claps’ to celebrate learners sharing ideas or work.
Make your content into a game - In Mentimeter you can copy in your PowerPoint presentation and add in a range of quizzes and challenges. Kahoot! also has a range of quizzes that you can use with your learners. For both apps, participants answer questions via their phones or computer, and the results appear on your screen so you can share them with the class.
Pre set quizzes and polls - Many video conferencing platforms have built-in quizzes and polls. Find out how to use these functions on Zoom and Teams to better engage your learners and receive quick feedback. You can set polls up before or during your class.
Offer different learning schedules for your learners - Learners appreciate options that suit their needs. Flexibility reduces barriers to participation and engagement. Some prefer real-time (synchronous) classes, while others learn best in their own time (asynchronously). Learners might be constrained by other life responsibilities that prevent real-time participation. This is particularly true for those who are employed whilst studying.
Offer regular drop-in sessions - Set a regular time and be available in an online conference room for learners to drop-in. This provides a less-formal opportunity for learners to ask questions (e.g., end of class, hallway conversations, office visits), which helps learners feel supported in their programme of learning.
Organise guest speakers - Invite guest speakers who can show learners how certain topics and skills will be applied in real-world scenarios. This helps learners connect their learning with future opportunities and enhance their motivation to stay engaged.
Run surveys to figure out what learners actually want to see when, how and how often.
Related tips and tricks
See our tips and tricks guide on how to keep learners engaged during a session.