Interact and Engage!: 50+ Activities for Virtual Training, Meetings, and Webinars
By Kassy Laborie and Tom Stone
2015 ATD Press 208 pages
Reviewed by Linda J. Mosley Gordon
IMCOM Installation Management Academy
School for Family and MWR, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234
Interaction and engagement are two important forms of audience participation that all instructors/facilitators seek when creating/delivering high quality online meetings, webinars and training programs. Kassy Laborie and Tom Stone, both learning and development professionals with Dale Carnegie Digital, crafted a primer of relevant and captivating activities guaranteed to “ignite online events.”
The introduction gives clear definitions of the primary online events that are utilized to communicate information: virtual meetings, webinars, and virtual classroom training.
- Virtual meetings involve multiple people utilizing the same audio and video call for collaboration, discussion, and decision-making. It is so much more than a conference call, allowing text chatting, audio exchanges, and whiteboard note-taking and brainstorming.
- Webinars is a live presentation that takes place over the web. It differs from a virtual meeting as it is one-directional. Information travels from the presenter(s) to an audience (usually very large).
- Virtual classroom training, a type of online training or e-learning, is a training experience that has multiple participants and one or more facilitators. This group convenes to communicate, interact, and collaborate; view presentations, videos, and course content; engage in large and small group learning activities.
Laborie and Stone matter-of-factly state in Chapter 1, “The first step to engaging an online audience is to learn the delivery platform inside and out, backwards and forwards, and upside down.” They included detailed overviews of the features of two live online platforms—Adobe Connect and WebEx Training Center, pointing out what each does and how they work to support the 50+ activities found in Chapters 2-8. The Installation Management Academy, School for Family and MWR (SFMWR) philosophy aligns with this school of thought. All of the SFMWR virtual facilitators and hosts logged many study-hours to become adept users of the DCO and Adobe Connect platforms.
The authors also pose the question: “So how can virtual facilitators captivate online participants and get them to interact and engage?” Chapters 2-8 answer that question, presenting activities that are concisely organized in the following categories:
Chapter 2 – “Have Then at Hello: Warm-Ups and Welcomes”
Chapter 3 – “Let’s Do This: Breaking the Ice”
Chapter 4 – “Get Active: Engaging Virtual Meetings”
Chapter 5 – “Perform on the Virtual Stage: Engaging Webinars”
Chapter 6 – “Lessen the Lecture: Engaging Virtual Training”
Chapter 7 – “Leave a Lasting Impression: Close with Impact”
Chapter 8 – “Gather Together: Celebrations and Parties”
SFMWR virtual courses include identical and/or similar activities and strategies that are presented in these seven chapters (polling, share a slide, brain teasers, chat, and music).
Chapter 9 (“The Next Level: Advanced Features and Fine-Tuning”) provides an overview of the use of advance tools, such as webcams, multimedia, and breakouts. The reader will find that advance features “can enhance participant engagement when used properly,” and may require robust computer processing power, increased bandwidth, and additional technical knowledge. These same features can also distract and frustrate learners if the technology does not work as planned.
The last chapter (Chapter 10) challenges the reader to “Take Charge: Create Your Own Activities.” It also sanctions the virtual course design process that SFMWR follows to create engaging and interactive instruction.
This book may be a review for those who are very experienced at virtual course design and facilitation/hosting or conducting/ facilitating virtual meetings. For others however, it does provide a plethora of ideas, insights and materials that will ensure participant interaction and engagement. This reader found it to be enlightening and enjoyable, with interesting points of view that should be considered in an effort to keep virtual training courses exciting, meaningful, and relevant.