The best way to ease faculty and participants into interaction is to begin with small, non-threatening techniques such as hand-raising, quick polling, and the use of emoticons.

Hand-raising:

Most frequently used to notify the host or presenter of questions, “hand-raising” can also be used for a quick poll, such as, “Raise your hand (i.e., click the hand-raising icon) if you have ever designed or hosted an educational webinar.”

Hand-raising is not anonymous, so try to ask value-neutral questions, or questions designed to increase confidence. Participants may worry about being seen to answer incorrectly, and so may not respond at all.

Caveat: Remind people to put their hands down again after the exercise.

Quick Polling:

Many platforms have simple ways to stage a quick yes/no poll (in WebEx Training Center, it’s a green check/red X). For example, “If you’ve ever navigated away from an educational webinar to check your e-mail, click the green check. If you haven’t, red X.”

Quick polling is great for doing an on-the-spot needs assessment, checking comprehension, and judging level and pace. For example: “If this level of discussion of ACL tears is right for you, click the green check. If you would like a quick review of anatomy before we move on, click the red X.”

Because quick polls are anonymous, at least to other participants, you can put participants on the spot a bit more to answer truthfully. In WebEx, these responses can be tabulated instantly into a bar graph, allowing you to see and share the results of the entire group, in graphic form.

Emoticons:

Some platforms have ways to publish or share feelings via emoticons. For example, Training Center on WebEx features smiley faces, sleepy faces, confused faces, or “I’ve gone on a coffee break.” There are also “Go Faster” and “Slow Down” emoticons.

Caveat: Employ emoticons only if you are interested in seeing the participants’ responses.