Are you being heard? – Listening an essential skill for learning

Listening is essential for learning. However, ensuring learners are listening to the important information they need to learn remotely is difficult.

Here at Learning Cultures we train teachers how to listen when they are learning to become coaches. We stress the importance of active listening. We raise would be coach’s awareness of how easy it is to be distracted, to miss important signals, to take back the conversation too quickly. Teachers soon recognise that this skill along with deep and rich questioning are the necessary ingredients to ignite learning.

So what can we do that will create a virtual classroom where we can be sure that the audience, the learner is listening?

We know from many pieces of research that it is likely that your learners will only hear around 40% of what you are saying regardless of whether you are face to face or online. So, categorise the information you want to impart into small chunks with not too much talking. Ask for feedback and give simple tasks linked to the information such as taking notes, producing a mind map, recording the key words.  Create the opportunity for learners to learn incrementally.

For some of the online courses we have on offer we are using whiteboard software to convey our messages through cartoons and stories.  Using visuals in a fast, fun way with text and the spoken voice is a powerful tool for raising the level of interest and the listening. Video Scribe is a cost effective way of building some highly interactive lesson content.

When you are planning the learning think about what it is that your learners will see and hear. Would you be happy sitting and listening in the same way? How interesting are you? How can you encourage learners to listen and take in what you are saying?

Use suspense to engage your learners. This can be a useful approach for all sorts of subjects. In Science, ‘what do you think happens next?’ In History, ‘what were the consequences of his/her decision?’ In Geography, ‘what would happen if you chose that route?’

Make listening part of the learning. We know from our training that everyone loves to think about how well they listen and actually how bad we all are at using this vital skill. Talk about listening and create a quiz that your learners can do after you have asked them to listen to you.  They will, inevitably, not score highly. It is a powerful way to raise awareness about their listening skills or the lack of them.

Our online learning offer for teachers is growing.  Remember that your learning is also important.  Face to face CPD may not be available for some time to come.  We are creating virtual platforms for some of our courses that you can buy as a package. The first ones are listed here.