“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The wonderful Joy Oguntimein has come up with how to add SPARK to virtual training:
Spotlight the training’s value and relevancy. Instead of showing a slide with the learning objectives for the program, begin with a realistic story the participants can relate to that illustrates how the workshop’s content will help them in their own lives or work.
Provide opportunities for group discussion and collaboration. Divide the participants into small groups and send them into breakout rooms at the beginning of the workshop to answer a question, such as “What would make this workshop worthwhile for you?”
Then use breakout room activities throughout the workshop where the groups need to collaborate and later report their conclusions. These activities might involve problem-solving scenarios or case studies, brainstorming “magic wand” questions (where obstacles are theoretically removed, such as when money is no object), or sharing their feelings and opinions regarding a specific topic.
Augment the experience by using social media. During the workshop, use a variety of online applications to engage the participants, such as Jamboard, Miro, or Mentimeter. Beyond polls, these offer the novelty of putting a pin on an image or watching answers become word clouds.
After the workshop, creating and participating in Facebook groups and using Facebook messenger are ways for the participants to have in-depth discussions, share knowledge, answer questions, and share links to resources. Depending on the workshop content, participants can also videotape themselves applying what they learned and offering it for others to review and comment.
Reward participation. This can be as simple as acknowledging and thanking participants who enter comments in the chat or speak up during the workshop. Winners of online quiz games can be rewarded with gift cards or bragging rights.
Knead in suspense by using case studies. Use realistic and relevant case studies to prompt interest at the beginning of a workshop. Use progressive case studies that become more complex as the workshop proceeds. These can give the participants an opportunity to apply their new learning as they gain it to propose how to manage (and possibly how to avoid) the presented problems.
These strategies will work well whether a program is in-person or virtual, because there is an emphasis on content that is relevant and of value to the participants and because the activities encourage, engage, and reward active participation.
Question: Which SPARK strategy do you find generates the greatest value?