Online learning has grown exponentially in the last few years. Unlike in the past where options were limited, more platforms have emerged in the education space offering quality online courses to students. However, online learning has its fair share of challenges compared to traditional learning, especially when it comes to online student engagement.
Since the instructor can only communicate with the students through a screen, facilitating an online discussion may be difficult. Fortunately, there are numerous video-conferencing platforms and online tools that exist today, making it easier for teachers to connect with students in real-time. The problem lies in catching their attention and keeping them engaged throughout the lesson. Here are some ways to maximize online student engagement.
1.) Provide instructions and an agenda with a list of discussion topics.
Students may find it hard to adjust to online learning especially if they don’t know what to expect from a virtual classroom. To combat this, you can send an email instructing students on how to participate in the discussion. Clearly explain if you want them to turn their video on as well as which parts they should mute themselves for a more seamless discussion. You can also provide an agenda containing all the topics that will be discussed so students can prepare some talking points.
2.) Start with an icebreaker or an engaging introduction.
Give your students time to feel more comfortable instead of jumping straight to work. You can start by letting your students have a brief friendly chat as this will make it easier for them to share their ideas with one another later. Starting the session with an engaging activity is a good strategy as well. Make sure that the activity is easy to understand and visually stimulating.
3.) Maximize the chat feature.
Most video-conferencing platforms include chat features although these are usually ignored as it’s easier to share your thoughts vocally. Fully utilizing the chat feature can greatly improve your online discussion. Students can type down what they think about the topic and everyone will be able to read it. Doing this will make it easier to facilitate the discussion without the risk of students interrupting each other.
4.) Provide clear and easy to understand learning materials.
Learning materials should be organized in a way where students are able to find and access them easily. Furthermore, it should be easy to understand and tailored to fit your students’ needs and interests. For example, transcriptions have proven quite beneficial when it comes to online learning. You can make use of transcriptions that can allow students to access it and study in their own way. Fortunately, there is a free transcription service that will allow you to generate academic transcriptions without spending money or wasting any time.
5.) Deliver content in small chunks and different formats.
Multiple studies have proved that a human’s attention span ranges from 10 to 20 minutes. As such, it’s important to deliver your course content in small parts. Give the students time to process and review new information before moving on to the next one. You can also keep them engaged by providing content in different formats such as videos, audio, slides, etc.
6.) Get students to apply what they’ve learned.
Simply listening to the course content isn’t enough. To ensure that the students can quickly digest the new information they’ve received, give them activities where they can apply what they have learned. This can be achieved through online forums, written essays, problem-solving questions, and many more.
7.) Provide timely feedback.
It’s important to provide feedback as this encourages your students to critically think about their work and reflect on how they can improve. As a result, it improves assessment performance and gives students the opportunity to grow more.