by: Leah R. Kyaio


Designing and delivering amazing and meaningful learning experiences is the entire goal of being a trainer or teacher. To watch the lightbulbs go off and to see learners using what we have presented is the richest reward.

Understanding how movement impacts the learning process of the brain and intentionally designing with movement as a learning tool is important AND provides those great results.

Why Movement?

Thinking about your own learning, what are the types of learning you enjoy the most?

Is it sit-n-git, where the instruction comes as a monologue delivered at you while you take it in, take notes, or daydream?

Probably not.

My most memorable learning experiences were those where I got to move around, engage with what I was learning and those I was learning with; those times where movement was incorporated into the learning.

There’s a reason for that!

The learning centers of the brain are literally connected by the motor cortex.

That means movement is part of what connects new learning and makes it relevant, meaningful, and memorable. It is important for ALL learners – from children to adults – and, as a result, including movement is NOT optional.

Designing With Movement in Mind.

When designing learning experiences, movement can be incorporated to serve three primary purposes.

  • To maintain and increase engagement
  • To reinforce learning
  • To support brain processing

“Fidget toys” are an example of maintaining engagement while using mindfulness techniques to wake up a sleepy group is an example of increasing engagement.

When I am talking about how the brain processes information, I have individuals stand in specific locations, serving as specific “parts” of the brain (working memory, storage, higher order thinking, etc.). Another individual then moves through those locations to accomplish a specific task. This is an example of using movement to reinforce learning.

Recognizing some repetitive activities in participants (pencil tapping, pen clicking, leg shaking, etc) as indicators of brain processing is one example of how movement supports brain processing.

Delivering With Movement in Mind

Similarly, there are ways we can use our own movement as we deliver the learning experience to reinforce what is being learned and the storage and recall of that content. This is an important way to increase “stick” – the actual ability of learners to apply what they have learned.

Using the area of presentation, we can be intentional in where we are standing when we deliver specific content. We can also use space in face to face environments to encourage engagement with proximity and eye contact.

Online Learning

In online learning, options of movement can become more limited. However, consider giving intentional directions about how you want learners to use their hands, arms, and bodies to explore, reinforce, or remember content you are delivering. There is certainly nothing wrong with letting them know why you are making the request. Doing so tends to increase their willingness.

Just the Beginning

This is just the beginning of considerations related to movement. In the first of our 9-5-9 video series, Tips & Tools to Create Meaningful Learning Experiences, we explore design and delivery, as well as online learning, and provide examples of each as well as relevant considerations and variations. I encourage you to review that video (click here) if you haven’t already.

If you like the video, please connect with us by joining our email list (click here) and/or subscribing to our YouTube channel (click here). That way you won’t miss out on the next video with more quick tips on how to design and deliver amazing, meaningful learning experiences!