The current pandemic has brought about a paradigm shift in the way classroom teaching is imparted. Online learning has re-engineered the entire classroom experience by making course material available remotely. However, with a lack of face-to-face interaction and peer-to-peer bonding, online learning can take a toll on student engagement.
Also Read: Learning in the Times of COVID-19
Hence, as an educator, it is important to ensure that such engagement gets boosted in every way possible so that students can better understand their lessons.
In this post, we will take a look at some of the ways in which you can overcome the usual challenges and ensure maximum student engagement during online learning.
What is Student Engagement and Impediments?
Online learning poses similar challenges to both students as well as educators, as it is relatively new and will take time to become the norm. Hence, it is imperative that both parties establish seamless access and understand the relevant technology before they can start.
As far as educators are concerned, designing immersive and interactive courses, and honing teaching skills can make online learning efficient. Furthermore, you should also set clear course expectations for all learners, especially for those pursuing higher education.
Care should be taken to make course interactions smooth and set new possibilities through remote learning, which otherwise is not available in a classroom scenario.
Also Read: 5 Effective Ways to Gamify Learning in Higher Education
A Format That Hints At Success
You might be interested to know that a majority of classical learning theories, practices, and pedagogies seem to fit in just right in an online learning scenario. In other words, this is really good news for educators who are worried about transitioning to an online learning scenario.
Online learning is expected to touch the $400 billion mark by the end of 2026. Don’t be surprised if it reaches the projected figure way sooner than anticipated, owing to COVID. Now, major educational institutions globally have made significant investments to cultivate and figure out different avenues for student engagement. Research reports indicate how more than 50% of students at the graduate level in the US alone showed a preference for online learning, compared to on-campus study.
Also Read: Ensuring Continuity in Learning in the Times of COVID-19
The following 5 points shed more light on the things that every single online educator needs to do to foster continuous student engagement.
1. Strive for Active Learning
What makes student engagement strategies work? Is it a good educator or skillful teaching?
It’s all about active learning. And what does one mean by that?
Well, it invariably means engaging students through action, compared to just sitting and learning.
As an educator, let go of the instructor-led approach and develop activities that get students to actively collaborate. Debates, online presentations, or pop speeches are all effective tools of online learning engagement and can be used to your advantage.
2. Setting Clear Expectations
While focusing on engagement is always a good thing, educators should also try to keep things simple. Here’s an example.
In most cases, a typical course syllabus sees way too elaborate introductory presentations. This is never a good idea, especially when things are set virtually. Instead, you should always set clear and consistent requirements that do not diminish student enthusiasm and can help them effectively network with coursework.
Adding layers of instructions, criteria, and deadlines deter students from the main goal by putting too much cognitive load.
3. Working in Parts
Garnering student attention is a gamble. As an educator, it is necessary to know and understand the limits of memory and retention abilities. Hence, breaking your course content into smaller chunks can work wonders.
Commence the class by informing students about the day’s agenda, well in advance. This will make them mentally prepared for what all they can expect over the day, and bind them to a certain level of interest. Also, try working with fewer ideas at one go. Focus on an in-depth discussion on a simple topic, rather than working on multiple concepts at once.
4. Setting Goals, Tackling Competitions And Failure
Educators should always find a way to incentivize students for reaching their goals. In essence, they should also help them set their own goals for success and create milestones along the way to track their progress.
Such an approach not only transfers the ownership of engagement from educator to students, but also keeps the latter motivated and full of enthusiasm. Additionally, it is also important to chart out a healthy competition map where students are encouraged to beat their own milestone with a better turnaround time.
Also, it is important to foster the ability within a learner to perceive things as “real” and project their true self online. This would invariably lead to more effective expressions, enhanced group cohesion, and an open line of communication.
As an educator striving for increased student engagement, it is your responsibility to devise ways to make the academic environment an incubator for healthy ideas. Offering a clear perspective for both success and failure is imperative to essential learning and should always be taken into consideration.
5. Immersive Ways of Learning And Feedback
Online educators should always try and find new ways of learning to keep up the interest level of the student. Without effective engagement, one is sure to lose the thread.
Multimedia presentations and videos can be your key to success for teaching online courses. Today, in a world where social media rules the roost, the efficacy of video content needs no introduction. As an educator, you will need to use the idea to your advantage and reshape the content into video and audio presentations with catchy texts, note-taking facilities, and an engrossing layout to do away with the monotony.
Remember to pay some attention to your feedback mechanism as well. These days, given the intense competition, students prefer to keep a tab on their level of performance. They like to know what they are good at, where they are lagging behind others, and how they can improve.
Thus, in addition to exams and evaluations, your feedback module should include formative assessments coupled with actionable information items for students to improve. This will reduce chances of argument over high scores and instill a culture of review, where an educator can connect with a student via a one-on-one session, and discuss or suggest ways to perform better.
Also Read: K-12 Education in the Post-COVID Era
The key to ensuring student engagement during online learning is dependent on quite a few factors, as discussed above. By introducing active and interactive learning that motivates students to participate rather than just listen, and conveying the usefulness of a certain coursework in a simple manner, you can lay the foundation for better engagement. Helping them set practical goals and deal with failure and competition is also vital not only to promote healthy competition and a friendly environment, but also to prepare students for the future. And most importantly, keeping things simple and easy to understand and retain is essential for maximum student engagement.
Since there is no one size that fits all when it comes to improving student engagement in online learning, as an educator, you need to constantly improvise and come up with strategies that work best for your particular scenario.
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