10 Techniques to Improve Virtual Learning


So much of what makes virtual training great is what makes for “great training, no matter what” cleverly brought to life in virtual forums. In my June 2022 online column, I shared a reliable 4-step, brain science-based training map—ENGAGE + EDUCATE + EXERCISE + EXIT—plus techniques to enhance engagement in virtual environments (https://trainingmag.com/4-steps-and-7-techniques-for-better-virtual-training/).

Once learners are engaged, the key is to educate them using interactive, multi-sensory, multi-directional, fun training that meets the objectives. This can be challenging in a virtual environment.


1. Open-Ended Questions: Replace yes/no questions with open-ended questions designed to spark thought, response, and discussion. Don’t ask: “Do you have questions? Have you had that happen? Is someone willing to share?” Instead, ask: “What are your questions? Raise your hand if you’ve had that happen—who will share an experience?”

2. Let Them Choose: Release control of the order of events as often as you can. Ask your learners what is important to them. Present several options and ask where they want to start. Unless you are teaching content that requires a specific order, be willing to teach out of order. My column, “Freedom and Choice in Virtual Training,” in the September issue explores this further (https://trainingmag.com/freedom-and-choice-in-virtual-training/).

3. Three Before Me: When someone asks a question or for a suggestion, solicit three responses from the group before you share. If all your best ideas are shared, thank the group, and move on. If there is one you can add, do so.

4. Doodle: Add writing, imagery, surprise, and the right brain to your training by having learners draw something.

5. Signals: Have learners create signs to indicate specific responses. For example, create sticky notes, one with a green circle and the other with a red X, or index cards that say, “Yes,” “No,” and “Maybe.” You also could have them use common items, such as a coffee cup for “More” and a pen for “Less.” Then share a series of questions or statements and have them respond by holding up the sign or item that represents their answer.

6. Breakout Groups: Put learners in smaller groups to take in and discuss the content.

7. Bingo! Near the start, have learners draw a simple grid with six to eight boxes, then fill each with one idea from a list of 10 to 15 things you post on a slide. This helps learners’ notice key ideas and gives them several touches with the content as they read, review, choose, then write their ideas. Have them check each box as the idea is taught and shout, “Bingo!” when they are done. Check their answers and give a round of applause. Anyone who does not complete can share their open boxes at the end so you can cover the ideas or remind them when you did.

8. Memory Matching: Use a program such as Flippity to create a self-correcting card game so learners can think about key ideas as they find the matches. Then take a deeper dive or do something with the ideas as they find each pair.

9. Flash Cards: Using Google slides, create virtual flashcards so learners start thinking, talking about, and applying key ideas.

10.Quiz Show: Use an app or Google slides to create a Jeopardy!-like game show to teach and test learners in a fun and memorable way. Use each column as you go or the whole game at the end.