Nov 22

How to Increase Student Engagement in Online Learning

The COVID-19 pandemic marked a distinctive pivot point in how schools, teachers, and students were forced to approach remote learning—with some districts more prepared than others to manage the stark transition. As e-learning sessions, distance-learning days, and flipped classrooms remain common in many schools, how to increase student engagement in online learning is a hot topic among teachers.

What Affects Student Engagement In Online Learning?

While remote learning allows schools to meet the number of mandated school days regardless of weather, building issues, and other obstacles, online learning makes it harder for teachers to assess student engagement. Some factors affecting student engagement in online learning include:

  • The tools and technologies used
  • The quality of course materials and presentation methods
  • The teacher’s availability, preparation, and adaptability
  • The opportunity to collaborate with fellow students

How Can We Improve Student Engagement in Online Learning?

Implementing the following strategies can help teachers cultivate more quality class participation and proactively combat a lack of student engagement in online learning.

Be prepared—and always have a backup plan. Many online learning tools are user-friendly, with easy-to-follow introductions. Be prepared for online learning days by following best practices.

  • Give a guided tour of the most important features, functions, or locations. 
  • Keep course materials well-organized and clearly labeled to reduce student confusion or uncertainty. 
  • Create a calendar of due dates or important checkpoints to help students manage time. When students can begin building confidence in their learning, they’re much more likely to engage throughout the entire process.
  • In case of any unavoidable internet connectivity issues, provide (ahead of time) a list of activities and reading assignments that students can complete offline.

Create visually stimulating materials. Slideshows, videos, graphs, charts, 3D models, and interactive elements will keep students more engaged and receptive to digesting new concepts. 

  • Virtual whiteboards, such as Microsoft Whiteboard, Google Jamboard, and Creately, allow teachers to creatively display information across a digital canvas using text, images, audio, and video elements for more engaging note-taking and presentations. Additionally, Pear Deck and NearPod allow teachers to embed interactive elements into presentations.
  • Think-pair-share exercises in Zoom breakout rooms, an Edublogs blog, or a Weebly website can engage students in creative projects that can be updated and shared among peers. 
  • Taking an ungraded quiz or creating virtual flashcards becomes much more exciting and engaging for students when presented as fun online games or friendly competitions. Try Kahoot! and Quizlet to gamify your lessons. 

Experiment with messaging. What works in one class may not work in another. Try various communication outlets to find which are easiest for you and your students. 

  • Pin daily announcements or long-term goals to a class website or learning management system hub. 
  • Use a message board, chat rooms, or private social media groups to host text discussions or writing assignments.
  • Take full advantage of all audio, pre-recorded video, and live streaming capabilities for addressing the whole class, and establish direct connections via email, private messages, or one-on-one video calls with students who may need additional help or encouragement.

Establish an online learning community. An online community can extend time and space for collaborative discussion and provide additional motivation, recognition, and accountability opportunities.

  • Host breakout sessions for pairs or small groups of students to discuss what they’ve recently learned, then have them prepare a follow-up presentation for their peers on real-world applications.
  • To help students view themselves as active creators of the classroom’s learning, have them prepare their study materials to share and exchange with the rest of the class. Some students may respond better to the material presented by peers. And some are engaged when working behind the scenes in a group on projects. 
  • Offer students a wide range of peer review and group work opportunities. From fun-focused social sessions for getting to know each other better to group projects, focused discussion breakouts, or “study buddy” programs, infusing social and collaborative elements keeps students engaged in their learning.

Routinely search for new student engagement strategies. As you observe student engagement and teaching strategies in the classroom, be responsive and open to adjusting your approaches to online learning.

  • Ask students directly for their input, whether in polls, surveys, or an open discussion. Democratizing their learning gives students a voice in how they learn and what engages them. 
  • Another approach to keeping up with student engagement strategies is to find out what has worked for other teachers. With online resources, such as Avanti, you get proven, easy-to-implement strategies from teachers who are teaching your grade level.  

Avanti’s library of professional development resources includes more than 300 on-demand videos featuring real teachers sharing proven techniques and age-appropriate strategies on relevant topics—including improving student engagement in both face-to-face and online settings. Get started with a free seven-day trial today.

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