Brain-Friendly Learning, Online

As trainers, facilitators and coaches we know that bored people don’t learn well.

We work hard to make our in-the-room events ‘brain-friendly’, using interest, novelty, emotion and meaning to keep people actively engaged throughout.

We bring learning to life with brightly-coloured handouts, physical games, small-group activities, learner-led sessions and more.

Sharon Bowman refers to five general elements of brain-friendly learning:

  1. Positive emotional experiences
  2. Multi-sensory stimulation and novelty
  3. Instructional variety and choices
  4. Active participation and collaboration
  5. Informal learning environments

But what are we seeing nowadays? All too often, it seems that the move to online learning has reintroduced the long-discredited ‘trainers talk, learners listen’ paradigm.

Too many webinars consist of 45 minutes of talking over slides followed by a quick Q+A. People learn almost nothing from these sessions.

Too many conference calls fail to engage participants in any real way. Research shows that:

  • 65% of respondents do other work
  • 63% send e-mails
  • 55% eat or make food
  • 47% use the toilet.

We’re wasting our own time, and our learners’ time.

“As trainers and teachers, the single most challenging thing for us to do is to step aside and allow learners to learn. Real learning takes place when we stop talking and our learners start talking. Real learning takes place when learners participate in the instructional process, from beginning to end. And real learning takes place when learners become active creators of their own learning experiences.” Sharon Bowman, Training From The Back Of The Room

We clearly are constrained by what’s technologically possible. But it’s not so long ago that people seriously claimed that no meaningful coaching could happen by phone: now that’s perfectly ordinary.

What changed? I was part of what happened, so I can speak with a bit of authority here.

People who cared enough set to work to figure out how to make it happen, and made it happen. They didn’t let the tech get in the way.

It’s time to do the same for remote training and facilitation.

That probably means we need to get back to basics, to look at the ‘why’ of our training and facilitation conventions. We need to ask ourselves, “How can we create experiences that are emotionally positive; informal; full of novelty, variety and multi-sensory stimulation; and which invite active participation and collaboration?”

Then, we can set to work to make it happen.

  • ENGAGE Remote Facilitation is designed to help you to take your brain-friendly methods into the online world so that participants get fully engaged – and you get to really connect with them, just as you would in the room. Click here for workshop details >>>

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