Engagement Looks Different For Everyone

Engagement Looks Different For Everyone

Do you have an idea of what you consider an engaged learner to be or a preconceived idea of a learner who’s doing your course ‘the right way’? 

Recently, I was inspired to address this aspect of course facilitation when I saw someone talking about how to get the most out of her group program. 

She was suggesting that showing up live to the calls, putting your camera on (no black screens allowed!), actively asking questions – that is the ONLY way to be properly engaged in her program. If you don’t do those things, then shame on you – you’re not fully invested in the program.  

But the fact is, that’s not a universal truth. 

Who are we to tell our learners what properly engaging with our programs looks like?

And especially for our neuro-divergent community or for our learners of different abilities, sometimes having a camera on just isn’t an option. 

Whether you are an introvert or you are prone to overstimulation, or maybe you’re just a really busy parent who has kids hanging off their hips and is trying to fit this in on a lunch break.

We know that there’s so much going on in our learners’ lives, and who are we to tell them what properly engaging looks like? 

I had a client who was worried because her community was really quiet. She would post prompts and exercises, and no one would really be commenting or engaging with them. Which she took to mean that everything was falling flat, or that it wasn’t working.

But when she got on a call with her clients and asked them if they were enjoying the exercises, they were like, “Oh my goodness, I love them. I do them every day. They’re so meaningful.” 

So just because someone’s not on camera, or someone’s not commenting and responding to everything you post, or engaging with the community, doesn’t mean they’re not learning. 

And it’s on us to remember that part of our job is to facilitate a learning environment where people are welcome to come as they are.

For example, when I host my Course Cafes, you can come and have your camera on, or leave your camera off. You can mute or unmute. You can participate in the chat or not. You can raise your hand to say you want to share something or you can just listen.

Other examples or ways to create opportunities for engagement:

Make everything an invitation. 

We’re not here to prescribe the way learning needs to look. There are so many different factors involved in a learning experience, and our job is first and foremost to create invitations for engagement but also to not attach meaning in case people do not accept those invitations for involvement. 

Using inviting language such as:

  • “If you feel comfortable…”
  • “If you would like to…”
  • “If you’d like to turn your camera on to ask questions, or unmute/raise your hand, or post in the comments..”

You can also ask your audience to use emoji reactions in Zoom if they would like to be called upon or not called upon. For example, asking them to use the thumbs up reaction if they feel complete and would rather not contribute in the workshop or live call, etc. 

Another way to facilitate engagement could be to allow participants to not have to ask questions or process things right in the moment. Which could look like providing an alternate way for participants to engage with the material. For example, you can invite participants to send questions via email or to post in a community space, or to submit through a question form. 

I think the key is to make everything an option; make everything an invitation. 

Our job is to provide the environment, provide the road to transformation, and set our learners up for success so that they can choose to participate in the way that works best for them, their brain and their learning styles.

Looking to design more engaged learning experiences, online courses, and programs? Join me in one of my Free Course Cafes to chat about all things program design. Each month, I host a free live call on a specific course creation topic where you’re welcome to come as you are and bring all your Q & A’s.

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