To reach learners in a corporate training session and ensure knowledge retention, instructors must first capture the attention of the class. That can be a challenge, particularly during long training sessions that require constant focus on learning materials. Top-down lectures that require learners’ attention without their direct participation is a hard sell no matter how skilled the instructor or compelling the presentation.

Using technology tools to improve training and development programs by making sessions more fun and interactive can be an ideal solution. Just as technology has improved productivity and enhanced performance tracking and data management across all business operations, judicious application of technology solutions can increase learning and development program effectiveness.

Corporate training organizations worldwide have introduced gamification principles into their learning and development programs with great success. Trainers have also used technology to facilitate employee engagement and peer-to-peer learning. Here are three ways companies can strengthen learning with gamification and interactivity:

1.    Integrating gamification into training sessions: Introducing friendly competition into a training session is an excellent way to keep participants engaged and focused. Gamification appeals to millennial students, who grew up playing video games. But it’s popular and effective with learners of any age – nearly everyone has some experience with watching game shows on television. With response technology now available, instructors can “gamify” training sessions, dividing large classes up into teams or allowing small groups to compete for points and bragging rights as individuals.

Interactive response technology makes it easy to incorporate games in a range of familiar formats including quiz show competitions or games that allow contestants to earn points and wager them on their ability to accurately answer questions. With the right response technology, instructors can embed questions directly in presentation slides and allow teams or individuals to answer using their smartphones or keypads. Participants can keep track of their progress with aggregate answer results, accumulated points and leaderboards displayed directly on the presentation screen.

2.    Making training sessions more interactive: Training sessions that consist of top-down lectures often fail to fully engage participants for the entire session – it’s a challenge to sustain attention with an audience of passive listeners. In a training program that requires sessions that last hours at a time, it’s even more important to find a way to capture audience attention and keep them focused. Turning a training session into a two-way conversation is a great way to encourage learners to pay attention, and with response technology, it’s possible to engage even a large class.

Response technology allows instructors to embed questions into PowerPoint presentations so that participants can submit answers via keypads or smartphones. Answers are instantly tallied and displayed in aggregate form right on the screen in a chart format. This allows all learners to participate, which gives them a greater incentive to pay attention. It also gives instructors valuable feedback, allowing them to gauge knowledge levels in real time so they can adjust lesson plans, spending more time on topics the audience is having trouble grasping and moving on when they display mastery of a subject.

3.    Encouraging Peer Instruction: Peer Instruction, an interactive learning technique pioneered by Harvard Professor, Dr. Eric Mazur, can be a highly effective way to engage learners while increasing participation and knowledge retention. Using response technology, presenters can embed questions or problems into the PowerPoint slide to facilitate discussion, query participants on problem solving techniques and display aggregate answers on the screen in chart form.

Research indicates that when learners actively work together to solve problems rather than listening to an instructor review material and provide answers, they are more likely to retain the material. Peer Instruction also tends to keep employees engaged during the training session since the learning technique leverages the collective knowledge of the group.

Technology has changed the way people learn about new topics and interact with each other outside of the workplace, and applying technology has already significantly enhanced the way companies deliver learning and development opportunities on the job. Incorporating technology to enhance the way instructors and participants interact during training sessions can take it a step further, improving results by increasing engagement and knowledge retention.

Training professionals who use gamification techniques and other technology-enhanced interactive strategies are significantly improving participant satisfaction with learning and development programs while increasing training program effectiveness. By heightening engagement with gamification and interactive techniques, these instructors are reaching their entire audience and honing critical skillsets to give their companies a competitive advantage.