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Training Tools: Indispensable Classroom Training Tools

Posted on April 03, 2013 By Jake White

Great instructor-led training requires participant attention and engagement. Over the years, I have found three classroom training tools that I consider to be indispensable. Each of these tools significantly increases learner engagement.

I. Audience Response Technology

There are a number of good audience response tools out there. My preferred solution is TurningPoint response cards, by Turning Technologies. Response cards allow the instructor to measure learning throughout training session. Trainers can display questions, surveys, opinion polls and games that allow everyone in the audience to select a response via their wireless response card keypads and transmit and display the data immediately into the presentation slide. You can even have competitions, including team competitions with points.

There are many advantages to using this tool:

  • Participants are actively engaged in the training material, which increases knowledge retention.
  • Trainers can conduct on-the-fly polls at any point during the training session; this can give feedback to the instructor about how well the learners are processing the course information.
  • Trainers can run reports with the test/survey data—thus measuring learning with virtually no data entry outside of the training event.

I like TurningPoint because your company can download the PowerPoint plug-in for multiple users without additional cost. So you are essentially just paying for the response cards that can be used by more than one trainer without extra costs.

Response cards provide a fun and interactive way to engage learners while also giving trainers a tool to measure level 1 (response to the training) and level 2 (knowledge learned) training data (i.e., level 1 & 2 of the Kirkpatrick ROI model).

II. Movie clips:

I am a huge movie buff, so I love using movie clips as illustrations in instructor-led training sessions. One of the problems with using movies clips, however, is that you need to get permission to use the clips. Here are a few simple steps to effectively, and legally, use movie clips in your training sessions.

  1. Contact the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation 800-462-8855; get a license for the movie (or an “umbrella license” for many movies).
  2. If you want to download a YouTube clip to show, you can use this YouTube downloader:
  3. To learn about ways you can use movies in training, take a look at Becky Pike Pluth  book on this topic: "101 Movie  Clips that Teach and Train."  See also Mark S. Carley's July 1999 article in Training & Development magazine, "Training Goes to the Movies."
  4. Use a video editing tool like iMovie or Windows Live Movie Maker to make the clip start/end where you want it, or to convert a clip into a wmv format so you can embed it in a PowerPoint slide.

I recommend spending enough time to set up with clip with appropriate context, and also give learners something to look for in the clip. Leave yourself enough time to debrief after the clip.

  1. Simulations and Games:

Experiential learning is a powerful way to actively engage learners and improve retention levels. Using hands-on simulations can be a great way to liven up the classroom. One of my favorite simulation tools is the Paper Planes simulation by Discovery Learning. This simulation is basically a team competition between two paper airplane manufacturing “companies” (it can also bee done without the team competition element). It can be used for general team building or to illustrate a number of common business topics such as efficiency, organizational change, leadership, customer service, communication and diversity.

Just as you would with movie clips, it is important to set up the simulation and debrief effectively to maximize the impact.

There are many other examples of great simulations that are worth exploring:

I also recommend using games in a similar way. See, for example, the excellent game-based PowerPoint templates that can be purchased from Elearning Brothers.


These three tools can make a tremendous difference in the classroom. If your training program is getting a little stale, it is well worth the cost of implementing these tools.