10 Tips to Engage Learners
Have you ever been facilitating a class and looked over at your learners to find them staring into outer space? Just when you think you have created the perfect training program or engaging activity, you find your learners are still not interested. If learners are not paying attention, then how are they going to learn and absorb information? Instructors must find a way to keep their class interesting enough that learners take in the information that is being presented to them.
For decades, educators have been trying new teaching strategies to keep their learners on their toes and get them excited about learning. While some strategies fail, others have been found to be effective. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Incorporate Mystery into Your Lessons
Learning is the most fun when we don’t know what to expect. Learning also can be interesting when we make it a mystery. The next time you plan a course, try giving learners a new clue each day up until the very last day of the program. You may just find learners actually are looking forward to discovering what they will be learning about!
2. Do Not Repeat Classroom Material
It’s OK to review classroom material, but don’t repeat it as this can become boring for learners. Instead, play a review game and make sure to present the material in a new way.
3. Create Classroom Games
Games are a great way to keep lessons interesting while having some fun. Think “Jeopardy!” or “Wheel of Fortune,” for example.
4. Give Learners Choices
Choice can be a powerful motivator because it helps to foster learner interest. Research suggests that when instructors craft effective choices, it gives learners a sense of control, purpose, and competence. By giving students the opportunity to choose what or how they are going to learn, you are cultivating students’ interest, which is a great motivator.
5. Utilize Technology
Technology is a great way to keep lessons interesting. Instead of standing in front of the room and lecturing, try using a Smart board. Instead of having learners do a cooperative learning activity with each other in the classroom, try connecting to another classroom via videoconference to collaborate on the group work.
6. Don’t Take Teaching So Seriously
Being an effective instructor is an important job, but it doesn’t mean we have to take it so seriously. Loosen up a bit and acknowledge that learners may have different interests or learning styles than us. It’s OK to laugh at ourselves at times, and it is also OK to have some fun.
7. Make Lessons Interactive
In a traditional classroom, the instructor stands in front of the room and lectures to learners as they listen and take notes. We all know this way of teaching is boring and has been for decades. Instead, make training interactive by involving learners in every aspect of it.
8. Relate Material to Learners’ Lives
Creating a real-world connection to what people are learning will give them a better understanding of why they need to learn what we are teaching them. If learners are constantly asking us why they need to learn something, we should give them a real answer. This will help them understand that they must learn what they are learning for their future.
9. Flip Your Lessons
The flipped classroom has been gaining credibility since the term, “flipped,” entered the education world in 2012. The idea that people could learn new information at home and come to training and use class time for critical thinking activities and to reinforce concepts was unheard of. But today, many facilitators are using this strategy and obtaining amazing results.
Learners now can work at their own pace and engage with their peers in a more interactive, meaningful way when they are in the classroom.
10. Think Outside the Box
Do something that is completely out of the ordinary. When we try something new and different, there is a good chance learners will respond with delight, not defeat. Learning doesn’t have to be boring to be effective. People will always find it more interesting to learn when content is presented to them in a variety of different ways.
Shimmi Sharma aims to inspire young minds with a love of learning and helps them become free thinkers. She currently teaches English at Sunbeam School Lahartara Varanasi. She holds an MA in English, English Literature, Education and Psychology; a Post-Graduate Diploma in Higher Education; Post-Graduate Diploma in Educational Management and Administration; Bachelor’s in Education; Certificate in Teaching Functional English Certificate in Teaching English as Second Language, and Certificate in Guidance. A die-hard literature fan, she looks forward to opportunities for walking that extra mile to learn and to make a paradigm shift from teaching to learning.