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3 Instructional Techniques to Keep Learners Active & Engaged

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 10/31/13 4:00 AM
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Like many of you I have a smartphone. Good thing, too, because sometimes I am not so smart! One of my favorite things about my phone is the many “apps” I can use to help me out. I have one to help me navigate my car, calculate a tip amount, indicate my calorie consumption, and decide where to eat on the road. I don’t have to think or do anything for myself anymore; I just let my phone do the work! It may be convenient for our phones to do the thinking for us in our everyday lives, but it may not always be a good thing in the classroom. Certainly, there are new ways to use social media and technology in training, but I think we have to be careful not to rely on technology to do all of the work.

At Langevin Learning Services, we instructors have a saying, “Never do for the learners what they can do for themselves.” Generally, this means that it is preferable to involve the learners in the learning process as much as possible. You want learners to retain and apply the new knowledge and skill they’ve acquired. For example, do you present power point slides of information to your learners all day? If you do, the learners are playing a passive role in the learning process, and chances are they will not remember anything that you’ve said to them. Instead, we want to use tried and true instructional techniques to get the learners busy, engaged, and active, so they will have fun and learn! Here are three techniques to do just that:

1. Collaborative Lecture Method: This technique involves learners, along with the instructor, presenting content in the class. This technique is generally followed by group discussion.

2. Reverse Questioning Technique: This is a great way to encourage learners to think on their feet! The next time a learner asks you a question, don’t answer it; instead, reverse it back to them by saying, “What do you think?”

3. Example/Exception Technique: This technique is useful in making learners present content or apply knowledge previously learned. First teach them a concept, then ask them to list on a flip chart the many ways they can apply the material, or have them come up with an exception to the rule.

Perhaps in the future, technology will do all of the classroom work for us. For now, learning is an active process that takes hard work. As trainers, we can use smartphones in the classroom as an aid to learning, but be sure that the learners work the hardest. After all, your employees will be the ones actually performing their jobs, not their smartphones!

Have you incorporated any of the above instructional techniques into your training sessions? What was the result?

Dealing with Difficult Participants



Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

Topics: instructional techniques, tips-for-trainers

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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