Virtual Chocolate in the Virtual Classroom

by Darlene Christopher on January 14, 2015

chocolateIt’s that time of year when New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, and resolving to eat better is often high on the list. Chocolate is a weakness for many and for me, baked chocolate goods cause me to leave that New Year’s resolution in the dust. However, one way to make that resolution stick is through the consumption of virtual chocolate! Let me explain what I mean by that.

As facilitators, many of us use small giveaways and tchotchkes, including chocolate to reward participants who contribute to our classroom programs. In fact, research shows that there is a link between chocolate and happiness and increased productivity as described in this article on the ROI of Chocolate.

If chocolate is indeed beneficial in a classroom, how can we reap those same rewards in a virtual classroom, where the facilitator is physically separated from participants? I recently interviewed one of the top facilitators in my organization, who generously doles out chocolate in a traditional classroom, and he recently started mimicking this technique in the virtual classroom. He does this by emailing an image of chocolate to participants who make good contributions to a session, such as asking a good question, providing a relevant example or getting the most number of poll quiz questions right.. He reports that offering a prize of virtual chocolate gets participants’ attention much like in a traditional classroom, and they compete for it, adding great energy in the virtual classroom. While I haven’t seen research on whether virtual chocolate also improves productivity, if it helps to engage participants, that’s enough proof for me! Plus, it’s good for your waistline.

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