Creating active and ample participation is the most important thing you can do to enhance learning. Here are a couple of thoughts to get you started whether you are in a virtual or traditional classroom:
Use small break-out groups to overcome any reluctance to share ideas or concerns. In a virtual classroom, this means using break-out rooms.
Call on specific participants no matter what kind of class you are facilitating.
Use body language in a traditional classroom to encourage participation; positive nods, smiles, eye contact all show that you're interested in others' ideas. In a virtual classroom, you can still encourage participation with an enthusiastic voice and verbal reinforcement. In some instances, you may want to use a webcam for short periods of time.
Ask questions — a show of hands is a good way to start out, and in a virtual setting you have a feature called a poll.
Encourage participants to ask questions. In a virtual setting, encourage them to use chat.
Share something of yourself to begin a trusted exchange of ideas.
Learn and apply techniques to get learners to open up.