Are you tired of teaching those dull, point-and-click computer software courses? Have you given up on the idea on making them fun and interesting? Training in a computer lab does pose unique challenges. However, with a little creativity, good design, and strong facilitation it is possible to keep our computer learners engaged and motivated.
Tip #1 Move that Furniture!
Space permitting, periodically have your learners move their chairs away from their computers and gather around you and your flipchart. You are now free to use the flipchart to play a game, to do some brainstorming, or to use a creative lecture technique like graphic association to review knowledge associated with your computer training.
Tip #2 Make your Learners Instructors!
From time to time, ask your learners to volunteer and demonstrate a skill on your PC in the front of the room. This way, you can stand in the back of the room or on the side of the room to monitor the class while also ensuring the volunteer is demonstrating the skill correctly on the projection screen. This technique increases class participation and gives your learners a break from hearing your voice all of the time.
Tip #3 Use Peer Tutoring!
In every learning situation you typically have learners who "get it" faster than others. Take advantage of this situation! Pair up your employees and let them teach each other. First, you need to demonstrate the skill on your PC so that everyone sees how things are done and then let the pair teams work together to do some practice exercises. One person can be the coach while the other person practices the skill. Then have the learners switch places so that each person has a chance to play each role. You are now free to monitor your group, answer questions, and prevent internet surfing!
Tip #4 Play Short Games!
Who says you can't play Jeopardy in a computer lab? First, create the game board on a power point slide or a flipchart and write up your content-related questions ahead of time. Group your learners into teams and tell them to log off their computers. Play the game after lunch or at the end of a training day to present content or review key material.
Tip #5 Conduct Question & Answer Sessions with a Twist!
Take a break from computer work and conduct periodic Q & A sessions. Ask learners questions like "How might this software improve your job performance or help our customers?" or "What are some key things to remember about correctly using the ABC software program?" Toss a Koosh® Ball or some other fun, safe object to the employee who answers your question and have them toss it back to you. If a question has multiple answers, instruct your learners to give one answer while catching the ball and ask them to choose another employee in the room to toss the ball to who must give a different answer. This technique adds fun and motivation to the session. Be sure to monitor the employees closely to make they have fun but toss the ball safely to one another.
Remember, do not overuse any specific training technique or it will lose its effectiveness. So, give these tips a try and let me know how you're doing! What are some other ways you can design interactive and motivating sessions in a computer lab?