The whole teaching community has been through some quite tough times over the last year, due to the pandemic and the urgency to adopt online teaching. But one of the major struggles of every teacher has been to maintain high student engagement and motivation during our online lessons. What are some tools or strategies to address this challenge?
Plan for Diversity of Delivery
As a teacher you should always try to engage the students by using a combination of content delivery methods: video, text, audio, and presentations. You could bring in instructors and guest speakers, so students are not tired of seeing the same face and hearing the same voice. Make sure you keep the element of surprise alive.
Be a storyteller
Storytelling has been a buzzword in recent years. We all love reading or listening to stories that we can relate to in some way. Stories use emotions so that we can remember the information provided. Assign stories or ask students to see someone tell a story. Give bonuses if a student can to do that. Use creative stories to illustrate the impact of what you are teaching.
Give Students Control & Responsibility
Humans tend to be more motivated and committed when they know they have a say about what they are doing. If a student thinks a lesson is too simple, allow them to skip or browse more difficult material based on self-assessment or test results. Offer students the opportunity to make their voices heard by asking for feedback on the learning experience and content. Don’t wait until the end of the course to know what changes you can make along the way.
The course you taught in 2018 should not be the same as what you teach in 2021. One way to differentiate your online course is to update the content with the latest material. Why not do some research on various current affairs that might be of interest. The Internet is full of resources or lesson plans based on the latest developments.
Cultivate Intrinsic Motivation
There are many online tools, such as digital badges and certificates that can boost extrinsic motivation. However, intrinsic motivation is much more important as it pushes the learner forward, especially when having to deal with complicated tasks. The learners should know why their learning is significant and how it can help them with their future, or contribute to the well-being of their community. As students become more involved in the learning experience, they will benefit more from the course and are more likely to come back for further education in the near future.
Divide lessons, make them digestible
Before you start with games and fun, it’s best to start working on timekeeping. Timing is paramount in online teaching, and you may need to split the online lessons differently than you would in person. As a general rule, it is a good idea to maintain a fast pace and break the information into small, easy-to-digest pieces. In practical terms, this means staying away from long explanations and slides with too much text. The learning retention level for bite-sized courses is much higher, due to the shorter length of the content.
Classroom activities for the virtual classroom
In a classroom setting, it is typical to give students a quiet moment to reflect, work alone or read a text. But these activities do not translate well in online classrooms. The way forward is to plan activities that keep students clicking, actively typing, or speaking during the lesson. You can do this by asking many questions, include games, and make sure students have to do things physically, such as using drawing tools or writing in dialog boxes. So, when planning your lesson, remember that as an online teacher, you have to make sure your student has to say something every three minutes or so.
Set goals and help students achieve them
The next point is pretty self-explanatory. Each lesson should have a clear outline, which is shared with the students so that you know where you are in the learning process and the context of any activity you are doing. So, think about how you could reward students for completing assignments (or rather, working hard) during a lesson. You can try
positive feedback, badges, points, playing games, or other fun learning activities that your students may like.
Be your best self!
All teachers should think about how they are presented in the classroom. A neat, organized, and safe appearance will inspire respect from your students. But online teachers may have to approach this slightly differently than in-person teachers. It is not just our appearance that we need to worry about, our visuals and audio, must be of high quality made in a way so that students do not feel bored.
So, the good news is that, just like in any face-to-face class, the real key to engaging your students online is finding out what motivates them and giving them a reason to get involved in the classroom. Whether it’s music, chatting about a particular topic, connecting what you’re doing with the real world, or being allowed to go to town with the drawing tool, don’t be afraid to try different things with your students until you find something that works for you.
Keeping students engaged is not an easy task. Remember that children don’t always have very high levels of attention, so sometimes it can be challenging to stay still and focused. This is completely normal and fine! It is essential to take a break from time to time and be patient with them. Your students can easily tell if you’re irritated or frustrated when something doesn’t click. And this makes things worse.
Video is excellent, but getting your learners interacting with your content is even better! Creating interactive content for the sake of interaction is not the solution, though. Sometimes letting a learner absorb information can be better than sending a user on a clicking spree. By understanding what interactivity means in learning you can find the right balance for maximum engagement without resulting in distraction
Mix it up
Whichever path you choose to go down when creating your content, there is something that is important to remember; switch it up! Yes, video is great, but an entire course of only video is going to be horrible for engagement. Include a range of media in your class. This may be a mix of written material, video, interactive content, audio, and images.
Not every online course is the same, so there is never a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to online courses. Though, as educators we need to continually improve our strategies and test new techniques. Find out about more ways to keep your learners engaged during an online lesson here.
Hopefully, we will enjoy more face-to-face teaching very soon.