Engaged Learning tips from Beth Kanter & Ashley Tan offer more ways to spark an active large group experience

Two must read posts from Beth Kanter and Ashley Tan went up today on ways to make “talks” not only more useful but more engaged. While some event hosts often think that numbers alone is a value to the event. We, as trainers and educators understand that success is measured by how valued and absorbed our content is by the listeners. Keeping them engaged and personal with the material, especially in large rooms is a challenge for many of us.

Beth Kanter, shared on her blog; Trainer’s Notebook: Online Interaction Tools To Engage Your Audience in the Room and Beyond detials some of the tools she used for a recent series of talks. This first hand experience really helps when sorting through the portfolio of tools available. She included thoughts about using Slido and other applications she has used in the past.

Her objectives were simple, she wanted tools that;

  • provided a “Question/Answer” back channel where participants in the room or online could post questions
  • the ability to implement “Flash polls”
  • and offer “Online versions of assessments for participants that would can calculate individual scores and show aggregate results”.

Ashley Tan, posted some great parrallel thoughts on his post: Strategies for interacting with participants and shared his thinking on backchannel communication (Dr. Tan defines “backchannel as an online space for participants to comment, discuss, and ask questions while I am speaking or after I have asked them to consider an issue“) using Twitter, TodaysMeet and also mentions how to adapt Google Slides for a more interactive experience with the audience. His use of  tools like Google Forms and AnswerGarden for data collecting and collating were also good options for those of you like to keep metrics.

Both these stellar trainers provided many other tips on these recent post and I encourage you to check them out and try some for yourself.


As a trainer at both local and national levels and an adjunct educator, I  have been using Twitter for sometime in both class rooms as well as the national trainings and even went as far as to create a specific page on my website MentorSF.com so that on the day of trainings I can track the hashtags for that trending theme. For some trainings I even establish a unique hashtag for it, otherwise I tend to prefer to use my standard #MentorSFCA.

Other tools I tend to like to use include Piazza as a external discussion board, this works great when I want people to interact with guest who might not me on the learning platform I am on at the moment.

Symbaloo which offers a great way to create a “grid” that you can customize with links and add to a slide presentation or set as your browser, by having presenters or presentations and videos preloaded on it. 

Hint to educators with group student presentations – with a little effort the night before, you can save a hug month of lost time with changing memory sticks, links that don’t embed into slides etc with Symbaloo.