When I was ten years old I sometimes ran away from the other children playing outside. I went to a calm place, found a book and enjoyed reading. I the background I could hear my sisters and friends’ noisy games. Maybe I was a “silent player” or a silent reader or may be a typical introvert. Well, sometimes I also enjoyed to be in the centre of the game, participating a hundred per cent.
Is this an example of how we might act and react differently? The situation, the mood and feelings drive us in different directions and we behave differently. I think it is also the same when it comes to learning. Some days we are very active, energetic and participative in a constructive manner. Another day we might be silent, half listening and not participating. Either drowned in our own thinking or may be tired and wanting to relax. A third day we might be more in opposition to the presenter and other participants, active enough, but may be not so constructive.
For a teacher or a chair of a a meeting/webinar this could be a challenge. From their point of view students/participants should be active and positive. Researchers have found that active students get better marks than silent ones (Handelshøyskolen BI). That is also coherent with my own experience. I enjoy a webinar more if I am active, I probably learn more, too. But there are exceptions. If a presenter tells something extraordinary to me, I could get lost in links, searches etc and totally lose all that is said further by the presenter or others. For sure, I have also learnt something, may be not the same thing as others but certainly something of value to me.
In the lurkers project (Nordplus) we have anticipated that active participants always learn more than silent ones. This might be right in many situations. If participants are bored or relaxed, not actually following what is said, and just waiting for the webinar/meeting/class to end. In that case they would be much better off if they are active.
This is also the challenge of all teachers and trainers. How do we organize our teaching or presentation in a way that involve and engage the students or participants? In our Nordic projects we have realized again and again that small pieces of interactivity, like polls with relevant and simple questions or a map to show where you are located, tend to make participants more awaken and active. In physical meetings or classes a “Kahoot” has also proved to be that small piece of interactivity that engage participants. A relevant question to answer on your phone is both physically and mentally engaging you and it sort of moves you of away from your relaxed sphere.
Active participation is a topic that should be scrutinized more.