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May 28, 2020 InSync Training

Virtual Classroom Tool Tips: Chat, Breakout Rooms, and more!

05282020 Blog Virtual Classroom ToolkitWhat do platforms like Webex Training, Zoom, Adobe Connect, and Microsoft Teams have in common? They all include a variety of virtual classroom tools!

When instructional designers incorporate their use into training programs and facilitators leverage them during delivery, tools can increase learner engagement. Learners feel more connected to their fellow participants, to the instructional team, and to the training content. Plus, when the virtual classroom supports active participation and collaboration, concerns about learning in a new environment fade away.

We’ve talked extensively about the basics of using virtual classroom tools to engage learners, but sometimes all you need to improve the live online training experience is a few quick, helpful tricks from the experts to move your sessions to the next level. When asked, our team of expert producers shared tips they wish they’d known at the beginning of their production careers.

Participant Panel

The participant panel includes the list of learners logged into a lesson. Most platforms also have “panelist” type designations. One simple, but game changing recommendation came from Vickie H:

“In Zoom, have participants rename themselves to include additional information that may be helpful such as title, location, or team name. This must be enabled under Admin-Account settings.”

Stephanie G. expands on this recommendation to apply to all virtual platforms, clarifying:

“These virtual classroom events are professional settings. Your name on the participant panel is like a name card at an in-person meeting. Add your full name and any other helpful information to it.”

Not only does this trick help facilitators and producers, it also empowers learners to take an unexpected – but empowering! - level of control over their presence in the virtual classroom.


Most learners have experience using the chat panel in the virtual classroom. It’s one of the simplest tools but using it does not trivialize the learning experience - quite the opposite! Chat allows for each participant to contribute equally and continuously throughout a session.

Almost every single InSync producer recommended some variation of this tried-and-true chat trick:

“Producers and Facilitators can easily create “lines of demarcation” in a session’s chat by entering a line of asterisks (***********). This helps the instructional team quickly scan ongoing dialog and associate learners’ answers with a verbal question.”

When instituting this standard approach, we recommend giving learners a heads-up, since without warning, many people assume the instructor accidentally leaned on their keyboard and sent a typo!

Breakout Rooms

Breakout room functionality transforms static virtual learning events into dynamic, collaborative sessions, and it’s capable of emulating small group exercises typically included in the face-to-face environment. But, many teams new to the virtual classroom worry that this particular tool requires highly specialized skills. But, in truth, breakout rooms really just involve planning and communication.

Kate H. shared:

“Know your platform settings! Some virtual classroom technology allows producers to pre-load breakout rooms before a session starts, and others don’t. Does the platform automatically assign the ‘host’ ball to a participant in each breakout room, or do all learners have equal privileges once they are in their small groups? Having clarification about these platform-specific nuances helps instructors better prepare for the live event and more clearly explain to learners what they need to do to fully contribute to the breakout room experience.”

Think creatively in the virtual classroom! The more you leverage virtual classroom tools to engage learners, the more you’ll realize how powerful and adaptable they can be.

Have questions you’d like the InSync Training team to answer? Comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming post!


Published by InSync Training May 28, 2020