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Live Session Engagement Ideas
Live Session Engagement Ideas

Tips and tools to engage your students during live cohort sessions

Chelsea Wilson avatar
Written by Chelsea Wilson
Updated over a week ago


  • Engaging moments in your lessons help students learn key concepts and give you valuable feedback about what and how they're learning.

  • Aim to build several opportunities for active engagement during live sessions.

  • Use the tools Maven's built for you and those available in Zoom to engage students.

The importance of state changes

Many students joining your cohort will be on Zoom all day long for work. Even if they don't have Zoom fatigue, the average learner has multiple demands on their attention (which only has span of about 3-5 minutes). To keep your students' attention, you should avoid the dreaded monologue and use the State Change Method.

Wes Kao's State Change Method helps you change the pace at just the right moments in your lesson to keep engagement high. Students will leave your class energized and excited to learn more.

State change ideas

Play music

  • Why: Start each live session with a hype song; play soft music during guided brainstorms

  • How: To play music in Zoom, click Share screen, Advanced, then Computer audio only. Here's a helpful how-to article. Pro-tips:

    • Set the volume at 25-30%

    • You cannot share audio when someone else is sharing screen

    • To play music while you're sharing your screen, click Share screen, select the screen you want to share, then check ☑️ Share sound in the bottom left corner. Here's a how-to article with screenshots.


  • Why: Start each live session with high engagement

  • How: Ask a "no fail" question that helps learners engage in a fun and safe way. Direct your students to "Put it in the chat."

    • Where are you calling from?

    • If you could be a comic book superhero, who would you be?

    • What’s something on your desk that has a story? Show it to the camera.

    • What's your guilty pleasure snack?

    • What show are you binging right now?

    • What's your favorite city or country to visit?


  • Why: Break up the monotony of you speaking by inviting students to share out.

  • How:

    • Ask students to raise their Zoom hand

    • Call on one student to start, then have the remaining students popcorn (or pass the microphone) to other students to share next

Chat responses

  • Why: Check whether students are understanding the topic; break up the monotony of you speaking

  • How: Encourage students to answer questions or share their work in the chat (Zoom or Maven community); give ~30 seconds to answer so you get a larger number of responses

Gallery view discussion

  • Why: Stop sharing your screen and go into Gallery View. This helps create a more lively round-table-style discussion

  • How: Stop screen sharing in Zoom. Click View in the top right and select Gallery, so all students are visible.

Rubber band exercise

  • Why: Stretch your students' thinking, change their perspective, help them discover new ideas.

  • How: Ask questions that get students to think outside the box and push the limits on your topic; ask students to share takeaways in the chat or through popcorn

Guided reflections and brainstorming

  • Why: Facilitate deep thinking in live sessions; give your students time to process before they share to increase the depth of responses

  • How: Pose a question, offer a template or framework, set a timer, and play lo-fi beats while people write their reflection.

Breakout rooms

  • Why: Facilitate peer feedback, collaboration, and small group discussion; cement the learning for your students as they explain to others; help students work together toward the course project

  • How: Write a prompt and provide detailed instructors; use the Zoom breakout room feature to group students

Brain breaks

  • Why: Give students a chance to process, stretch, reflect, etc. especially during live sessions longer than 60 minutes

  • How: Set a timer for ~3-5 minutes (embed a YouTube video in your Google slides for an easy timer), turn off cameras, and encourage students to stretch or get something to drink

Lightbulb moments

  • Why: help students cement their learning from the session and reinforce the key concepts from the lesson

  • How: ask students to share their "lightbulb moment" (what made them go "ah-ha!") at the end of the session; sharing can happen in chat or popcorn-style on the microphone

Need more support?

Don't forget that all of the recordings from the Maven Course Accelerator are in your cohort syllabus. You can always re-watch the sessions on course structures and creating engaging lessons.

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