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In the last post/video in this series I looked at using emojis within online sessions to promote engagement. If you read that then you will know that I mentioned that the next subject in this series would be on questioning.

While we are in small group sessions, then we can ask and respond well to questions but once we are online and live, and we are greeted with numerous initials rather than faces then actually encouraging learners to respond to questions can be difficult. What follows are some techniques which I am using which have been successful.

Putting your hand up...

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, ‘hang on! – there is a hands up function on these platforms!‘. Yes, this is the case, but I wanted to share with you some techniques which I use to actually engage almost all the learners at once.

As always, if you use any of this techniques and find them useful then please do let me know in the comments below or on any of the social media platforms which I frequent. 

Remember the delay:

Whenever you are teaching online, you need to remember that there will be delay between you asking the question and the learners typing their response. But since we are aware of this, we can plan for it when asking questions. 

Always ask the question and then continue to talk while the learners type their answers. This is an opportunity for that anecdote you wanted to share or even some more information about question – maybe some options?

You can even request that the learners do not press the send button until you tell them to. that way all the answers will come together, rather than everyone worrying about being the first to respond.

So what sort of questions can you ask?

Revising the learning:

At the start of sessions, or even at the end, I like to include a question to see what the learners can remember. This will not work with all learning, but with a bit of thought it can be used with many.

I compose an initial question where the answers can be represented with letters. If I give you an example, it might help.

What are the five areas of mastery within mathematics?

Answer: Fluency, Representation and Structure, Mathematical Thinking, Variation and Coherence.

With this question the answer can be represented with initials – for example F, R/S, MT, V and C. So, I would ask the question and then the learners respond with the initials within the chat.

If you want them to order or comment about one of these – for example – in their opinion which is the most important? Then the answers (with their initials) can be shown on the screen/slide for the learners to use.

Using this method, learners are not singled out if they get the incorrect answer but you will be able to see if the majority are on the right lines.

Before and After:

These questions come in two parts. The first part is given in the response to a statement or image. A statement is shared on the main screen for all the cohort to read and engage with. Then the learners are asked to rate how much they agree or disagree with the statement. This can be by using just numbers or emojis.

The session then continues and then, once it has been completed, you ask the same question again and see whether the content of the session has changed anyone’s mind. Then you can ask for volunteers to raise their hand in the chat to listen to the reasons why they had changed their minds.

Do you remember?

I find this kind of question really easy for learners to answer and quite surprisingly it encourages further contributions. It is a but like when you are reminiscing and one memory triggers another.

It works best when you are looking back over something or referring to the piece of text or media. I use it a lot when I am teaching about all things digital and/or education. For example, when teaching about digital learning I might pose the question – “Who remembers the first SMARTBOARD in the classroom?” or “Who remembers the television being wheeled into the classroom?”. Participants tend to just answer with a yes or no, but many will start to expand on their answer or add other things which they remember. At this point, I usual let the conversation go on watching it and interacting if and when needed.


You are now ready to engage with those online sessions and use questioning with style!

If you have any questions and/or comments then please do add them below.

Next post will look at some of the additional software I use within my sessions.


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