If you’re leading an eLearning class, you’ll know that the question of how to keep online students engaged can be something of a challenge! Fortunately, there are many useful techniques to engage the online learner; in this article, we’ll walk you through ten of the best.
Make a positive start
As an educator in any context, you will be looking to engage your students from the first day. When working with distance learners, this is especially important. Get to know each one of your students; their location, proficiency in the instruction language, learning goals, and future aspirations. Although you don’t share a classroom, bonds can still be built.
Understand your students’ needs
Building on the first point, from your initial discussion with students, take time to understand their specific learning needs. Cultural differences may necessitate provision of greater context, additional tools, and adjustments to language.
Encourage your class to get to know one another
Inspire a spirit of collaboration amongst your students. Physical distance needn’t be a barrier to developing connections. Consider setting up an online meeting before the start of classes, giving learners the opportunity to introduce themselves. They may also wish to connect on Facebook or other social platforms.
Create engaging materials
When thinking about how to motivate students online, take an honest look at your course materials. They should be snappy, useful, and easy to absorb. Of course, the way you deliver classes is critical, but as learning resources form the foundation of a positive learning experience, it’s essential to get them right, too.
It goes without saying that a good educator must be adept at effective communication. Don’t forget that in an eLearning environment, your students may not always be certain of your tone, so always be positive and constructive in your communication. In addition, be clear when describing assignments, coursework, and expectations of your students; ambiguity can lead to a loss of engagement.
Set insightful assignments
Assignments help your students to understand the material, deepen their knowledge, and apply it to useful contexts. Ensure that assignments have relevance to the course and your students’ learning outcomes.
Use innovative assessment tools
Be imaginative with your methods of assessment! Depending on the subject matter, you can go beyond the usual written essay format. Try visual assignments, presentations, and digital projects to shake things up. This allows students to express themselves more creatively.
Give real-life context
The classes that you teach will influence your students long after the final assignment is handed in. Therefore, when engaging learners in online learning environments, ensure that your course materials and assignments are relevant. Provide context that allows your students to envisage using the information in real life.
Encourage and utilise feedback
Give your students opportunities to share their thoughts on the course structure, teaching, assessments, and outcomes. Use this feedback to make adjustments during the course, and evolve future class content.
Make yourself approachable
From the outset, let your students know that they are always welcome to approach you, discuss the course, and share any concerns. This helps eLearners to connect with you as the course leader, engage with the class in general, and be confident that they will be heard.