The magic of learning (even online!)

"I am reflecting on a program that I just delivered virtually for the first time: Virtual Alchemy. The Alchemy program is not the new part, I have delivered the original in-person version many times over the past 15 years.

It worked! Online! We are dancing a happy dance over here because of that.  

I was not 100% sure it would translate. In person, the program is playful, fun, full of physical activities, and games. Groups usually find it magical and inspiring. I was wondering if we would be able to create a similar energy and outcome online.

In the afterglow of that magical experience, I wanted to share some of my reflections about what creates a magical learning space online (or in person!).

Leverage social learning

Create learning partners or learning groups. This gives people a purpose together. It is in our human nature to connect and to align around a purpose together. Learning pairs or groups tap into this inherent human trait. It is satisfying. Far more satisfying to learn together than to learn alone. People will be more engaged if they have learning partners.

Have the learning partners check in with each other regularly during your program.
This is even more important with virtual programs, especially now when people feel so isolated when sitting in their homes, perhaps alone.  

Alchemy virtual courses

Create a sense of belonging in the group

A feeling of belonging helps participants want to be a part of the whole group and to stay present with the group. It keeps them from being distracted by other things, like notifications from their multiple devices. This belonging and presence will help people stay focused on the material you are offering them.

Generate positive energy for the group

Keep it positive. Create safety for the participant group, help them get set up well beforehand (I am grateful for an amazing sponsor of this program who takes exceptional care of her customers). Ensure participants feel safe and cared for throughout the program.

As facilitators, keep the energy positive, joyful, appreciative, alive, and engaging – your energy is contagious and generates positivity and joy in the participants as well. Even online.

Use tech but don’t let it take over

Collaborative tools like Jamboard, Miro and Mural are helpful. But they can also absorb everyone’s attention. Use them as needed, but lightly; do not let them take over. They will provide a welcome diversion of attention, but still focus on your program. Having small groups work together on a tool like this will be further enhanced by that sense of belonging.

Handle technicalities and complexity so participants don’t have to

If you have an interactive online program that includes breakout rooms, slides, or other tools, use a tech host. A great tech host is well worth the investment. Make sure they know how you want breakout rooms to work and how to time and make sure that they are flexible, adaptable, and willing to make last minute changes without getting confused or upset that you changed the plan.

Those are my current thoughts. I have others to share. If you would like more input about how to create learning through activities, please attend one of our upcoming Alchemy virtual courses in June or September. Hope to see you then!"

Blog originally posted by Alchemy designer and facilitator Lori Shook on her website.

Create learning partners or learning groups. It is in our human nature to connect and to align around a purpose together. It is far more satisfying to learn together than to learn alone.''
Lori Shook | Alchemy designer and facilitator CRR Global
Lori Shook - CRR Global, Alchemy designer and facilitator - 17 May 2021
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