Use chat and reaction functions – Assign meanings to chat and reaction functions. For example, try testing whether everyone is following a subject or listening by asking them to use the ‘hand waving’ function. Alternatively, learners could physically raise their hand for questions.


Try whiteboarding - Applications such as Jamboard or Miro take Whiteboard activities to a whole new level. Pose a question or task, and let learners add their own voice and personality through sticky notes, images, and drawing. These can be provided to groups in their breakout rooms to work on and bring back to share with the whole class.


Run quizzes and polls - Many video conferencing platforms have built-in quizzes and polls. Find out how to use these functions on Zoom and Teams to better engage your learners and receive quick feedback. These are great options for combining reenergising activities with learning. Zoom and Microsoft Teams have built-in polling and quiz capabilities, you can also use third-party websites such as Quizlet, Kahoot!. and Mentimeter.


Provide continual feedback - Give consistent and positive feedback to encourage in-lesson participation. Ask for feedback; use Google Forms to create a quick survey where learners can submit anonymous suggestions to make your lectures more engaging.


Add in visual media - Videos and photos are helpful for engaging learner; follow these with interactive exercises as an effective strategy for promoting reflection and knowledge retention.


Deliver content in a discussion-style - Reserve class time for discussions and interactive exercises, and share course content for individual review as homework . Learners engage with online learning better when levels of cognitive load are higher in class and lower at home. More about flipped classrooms.


Use tasks that require movement - Include hands-on activities where possible, such as combining a scavenger hunt activity with a course-related exercise. Try asking learners to go outside and find a plant to bring back for their peers to identify.


Stand and deliver - When it is necessary to present content in a lecture-style, stand up to deliver the lesson (whether recorded or in real-time), this can help boost your own energy as well as adding back elements of body language and expression that are otherwise lost when sitting at a computer or giving a voiceover.


Think outside the (tool)box - Encourage learners to get away from the screen by issuing tasks, challenges, or treasure hunts, that encourage participants to stand up and interact with their environments. This might include collecting a plant from outside to bring back and identify, building something, or writing an answer on paper to hold up to the class.


Watch out for videos and microphones turned off - It’s ok to have video turned off sometimes to reduce Zoom fatigue however, a common sign of disengaged a student is a lack of in-lesson interaction paired with disabled video and microphone. Reach out to learners showing signs of disengagement and encourage them to participate during lessons by calling on them individually.

When classes were set up as discussion sessions and we used breakout rooms and polls, people were happy to come on camera and speak.


Related tips and tricks

Before you run a class, check out our tips and tricks on how to set up your real-time classes for success.