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As so many of us convert classes, courses, and meetings to an online venue of some sort, it is important to realize that this doesn’t mean we have to give up creativity or interactiveness. We just need to think about things differently. Here are some of my ideas to help keep things moving and feeling fresh.

There are several things that I do in classes and trainings that require me to pick people or items at random. The beauty of this is that class is never the same twice, but it also can help people pay attention because they know neither of you knows what or who is up next. In person, I’m a big fan of thumb balls – balls that have things written on them (seen above) that you actually toss to participants and wherever their dominant thumb lands is what they talk about or do. I use this for things like reviewing labor positions.

My very first online class, I actually just tossed the thumb ball myself and called out the position. Not a half-bad solution and provided some of the benefits I wanted. But I wanted to find a way to make it a bit more visual. So here is what I’m currently using, Wheel of Names.

Wheel of Names is free to use and you can edit and save wheels. These wheels can be shared or made private. You can even make the colors match your brand, add photos to the middle, have it remove items used/called, and other options. The uses are many, from using it to randomly call on people to participate in class to using it for a content review. Here is an example wheel with labor positions: Wheel of Names: Labor Positions.

You can also use an app called Riffle Raffle. This works like a raffle and you could use names and people can earn “tickets” that you assign. Then that increases the likelihood that someone wins. This could be useful for having people complete tasks in order to “earn” a chance to win a prize. Some childbirth classes use this as a way to incentivize homework and the students could earn small lotions, etc. If that’s not possible, consider earning things that can be exchanged online. You could do one large ticket item, like a book of interest (I’ve done this with a breastfeeding book.) or you could do smaller things, and have it be 15 minutes of birth plan review or maternity leave planning. There are also some organizations who incentivize attendance and the ticket items are indeed larger, like cribs and car seats. This might be one way to make use of this tool. This costs a less than a dollar on the Apple App Store, but you can use it forever. (If you want to find similar ones for Google or just different ones search terms like pick a winner, and raffle maker are helpful.)

I also can go old school pretty handily. This just involves a list of names, it can be pre-printed or written on the spot. In fact, I never teach online without a list like this. I try to have it printed ahead or time, but you can also write it on scratch paper. When I print it, I usually do four lists of the same names. This allows me to be able to mark it off multiple times without reprinting. Even when it’s not handwritten, I do try to get multiple uses out of each list. You can even keep a little chart to let you know who has done what – this might also be helpful if you have asynchronous tasks. It helps me make sure I’ve heard from everyone and I’m not overlooking someone. This is one of the hard parts of being online.

These are just some of the ways you work to randomize names and items in class. We’d love for you to share with us on social media some of your ideas, tips, and tricks. Join us on Instagram and Facebook.

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