Moving training sessions from face-to-face to online has fried most Facilitator brains when it comes to designing exercises that suit the learning platform. When my team first transitioned to virtual workshops we were faced with a plethora of possible training tools to feed our delegates’ imaginations and make interaction fun:

Jamboard, Zoom Poll, Quizlet, Deckhive, Padlet, Google Docs … tecchies have stepped up to the plate to provide online solutions. Yet more options don’t automatically mean better output. Just as you need to sift through a bewildering array for face-to-face learning, so you must be equally picky when choosing online tools.

There are plenty of places specialising in training games or exercises but it is often more fun – and certainly cheaper – to make your own. Don’t dismiss the value of a simple flipchart with Postits – even online. So long as the delegates can clearly see your chart, the ‘retro’ feel is wonderfully disarming.

I have always had a yen for creating things, from back in the day when you used washing up liquid bottles and old date boxes. All you added was a soupcon of sticky-backed plastic and a sprinkle of glitter, then hey presto – another ‘gift for Auntie’. And I could never resist the challenge of creating ‘clever storage for your pens’, or ‘a sofa for Sindy’. Blue Peter has a lot to answer for! 

So before you find yourself carried away on a raft of cardboard loo-roll inserts, or torturous techno solutions, some questions you may want to consider:

  • Does the game/exercise genuinely bring out the learning – or is it being used as an excuse for the trainer to put their feet up for a moment?
  • Is it easy to transport? Remember you may have to lug it up several flights of stairs or stow it in an aircraft hold as we slowly begin to return to live events.
  • Does it need to be durable? Here is where wipe-off laminating works wonders. The cost of lamination should be justified by the amount of times an exercise can be re-used. Whereas if it is for single use it won’t matter that it has been written on or that it is now a little dog-eared.
  • Will the benefit your delegates derive from it justify the time and effort needed to create it? Sometimes the best use of your time here is to click the ‘purchase’ button on a ready-made learning tool or a downloadable add-on and suck up the cost.
  • Are the rules easy to explain – and easy to follow? Will delegates be able to manage on their own in Breakout Rooms? Often a trainer will have a great idea for a game but for it to be a success delegates need to understand how to take part and what benefits they gain from joining in.
  • Does it fit the time allowed? You need to factor in how much time you will need to explain it (see above) and how much time the delegates – who may be seeing this for the first time – will need to perform it properly. Also, does it fit within the time frame of the rest of the training session?
If you have considered all of the above and still feel fine about it, then go ahead, have fun, re-live your inner Anthea Turner or Konnie Huq and save yourself some cash into the bargain.