Increasing online student engagement is going to be a top priority for all schools with blended or online learning programs.
While engagement is typically seen as volunteering during class, it’s really made up of a few different components: communication, participation, and interaction. Fortunately, there are tools and methods that schools offering online courses can use during and after synchronous sessions to provide engagement opportunities to their online students.
Increase Student Engagement Online with Breakout Groups
For students enrolled in online courses, establishing relationships with classmates is much harder than it is in on-ground courses. When students take a class in person, interacting with classmates feels natural. Students can tap someone on the shoulder to ask a question or introduce themselves. Those opportunities aren’t available online.
To facilitate interaction opportunities for students online, instructors can introduce break-out sessions in which small groups of students meet together either to work on an assignment or discuss a topic. Break-out groups are a great jumping-off point for students to become more comfortable interacting with their peers and participating in class. Instructors can keep the groups the same to allow students to establish stronger relationships with their group mates over time or rotate group members so students interact with different classmates each time.
Luckily for schools that have already implemented video conferencing solutions for online learning, their technology may offer break-out functionality. Check what your video conferencing solution offers and you might be able to implement break-out groups in synchronous courses tomorrow.
Increase Student Engagement Online with Polls
Sending interactive polls to students during their online courses is a great way to facilitate their engagement in the course and help them refocus on the lesson. Instructors collect responses from students and have the option to present the results, creating a great catalyst for discussion and debate. Students know that their input is providing value to the course and can see how their response compares to those of their peers.
Not only do polls boost student participation in online courses, they provide instructors with insight into how well students are comprehending the course material. Instructors are able to leverage those insights to modify their lesson to cover the topics students need the most help with.
Instructors can use a tool like CourseKey Engage, which can be used to send polls to students’ devices, or utilize the polling options on their web conferencing solution.
Increase Student Engagement Online with a Course Wide Chat
CourseKey Engage provides a coursewide chat that instructors can leverage to communicate with their entire class, maintain frequent touch points with students, and provide them with opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction.
A coursewide chat is an instructor’s venue to make updates and announcements, push reminders about deadlines or upcoming activities, share supplemental learning materials, and more.
Instructors can use the course-wide chat to start class discussions and let students engage with one another in real-time. Students can discuss poll results, share opinions, and exchange ideas, all helping to form relationships with their classmates. The chat remains open outside of class, letting students ask questions to their classmates on their own time without requiring the instructor to moderate the conversation.
The chat gives students another avenue to interact with each other aside from web-conferencing meetings, where not all students are comfortable conversing. Some students are more comfortable participating in discussions and voicing their opinions via text than verbally.
The course-wide chat provides students with opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction, which is vital to their learning experience and makes attending class enjoyable. Participating in interactions with the entire class reminds students that they’re part of a collective group, helping students to feel a sense of belonging and keeping them invested in sticking through the end of their programs.
Increase Student Engagement Online by Building Online Communities
Schools should focus on creating an online community that allows for students to connect with one another before and after the class session.
Students can connect with peers who may share similar interests or who may have already completed the program. Students are valuable resources to each other, and creating an online community can allow students to interact with peers for a variety of activities. They can discuss programs, discuss career paths, find tutors, make friends, and more. Students can find classmates with similar life circumstances and feel much less isolated despite being remote.
Having relationships with classmates and other students at their school can make them feel they’re part of a larger community.
Creating an Engaging Student Experience
As institutions look to improve their online course offerings in 2021, many are focused on providing more and better opportunities for student engagement. Those that don’t are at risk of losing their students to schools with more engaging courses that keep students involved in class and make them feel valued.
The tools and methods mentioned above are great ways for institutions to instantly increase engagement opportunities in their online courses. To learn more about CourseKey’s engagement tools, request a customized walkthrough of the platform today.