Leveraging a tool to increase student engagement online in blended and distance learning courses helps improve student comprehension while supporting compliance.
Engaging students is the biggest challenge for institutions administering online courses. Courses consisting solely of video conferencing presentations lack the group dynamics and calls to action necessary to keep students focused on, leading to low participation and in some cases, poor attendance.
So, how can institutions boost student engagement and activity in their online courses? By incorporating engagement tools to keep students focused on the lesson and providing opportunities for frequent engagement and increased communication.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at CourseKey Engage, an engagement tool used by hundreds of career college campuses and how it can effectively increase student engagement online.
How CourseKey Engage helps increase student engagement online
CourseKey Engage is designed to help instructors increase engagement in their courses by leveraging students’ mobile devices. Let’s go over the tools included in CourseKey Engage.
- Polls: short assessments consisting of multiple choice questions. Typically used as a spot check during class to refocus students and get quick feedback about students’ comprehension.
- Quizzes/exams: longer form assessments with multiple question types, including short answer, long answer, multiple choice, and more. These types of assessments can be pre-scheduled and auto-graded, making instructors’ lives easier. Instructors can even require students to be actively checked in for attendance before accessing a test to prove they’re actually taking the assessment themselves.
- Practical observations: when students must demonstrate their proficiency in a skill or practice, instructors can use this type of assessment to evaluate the student.
- Class discussion: a course-wide discussion thread that includes enrolled students and their instructor. Can be used for group discussions, updates and announcements, content sharing, debates, and more.
- 1:1 student – instructor inbox: Every student has an individual channel to contact their instructor, whether it’s to ask a question or notify them about something.
Now that you have an overview of the tools included in CourseKey Engage, let’s move on to why it’s effective in increasing student engagement.
Keep students involved in the lesson
Instructors using CourseKey Engage during synchronous sessions have multiple ways to keep students engaged with the course material. For example, every 10 – 15 minutes, they can send out polls to students about the material covered so far to refocus students and break the lesson up into bite-sized portions.
After class is over, instructors can extend the lesson by sharing content relevant to the course using the class discussion tool. Students can remain active in the discussion after class and can head into the next day’s lesson with momentum.
Build a learning community
Students are far more likely to engage with their courses when they feel connected to their peers and part of a larger collective. Most career colleges don’t have external student organizations that facilitate an institution’s learning community. And in online courses, students don’t have the opportunities to interact with each other before and after class as they would on-ground.
Being part of a learning community positively impacts student learning and motivation to persist. Through the class discussion, a popular feature of CourseKey Engage, students have the opportunity to communicate with their classmates at any time. The class discussion is accessible before, during, and after class, creating a channel that keeps students engaged with their course throughout the day. Unlike a discussion board or forum, where students are tasked with writing messages to earn points, the class discussion connects students with each other in real-time, providing a virtual space where students can have live text conversations about the material and ask each other questions. This tool is especially impactful for introverted students because it gives them the opportunity to let their voice and personalities be heard.
Provide a 1:1 communication channel with instructors
In online courses, personal interaction with the instructor is hard to come by. Many students rely on email to communicate with their instructors, which is not the most effective way to get in touch when they need help. Emails can get lost in inboxes and instructors may not check their email consistently throughout the day.
CourseKey Engage solves this issue by providing each student with a private channel of communication to their instructor. Through their device, a student can message their instructor and the instructor can see which student has reached out. Making it easy for students to contact their instructor when needed is crucial in online courses.
When describing her experience with CourseKey Engage, one instructor said she’s learned a lot about her students through the 1:1 inbox tool – sometimes more than what she wanted to know! The personal connection that the tool affords is extremely valuable to the student and allows her to help her students more effectively.
Track and leverage engagement data
When students engage with any of the tools available through CourseKey Engage, their activity is recorded and visible to instructors and administrators. Not only does this ensure institutions can prove their students have been active in a session, it gives administrators insight into which students aren’t as engaged. This visibility allows instructors and admins to take informed action to re-engage their students who have shown low participation and help get them more active in the course.
Some programs have large amounts of students attending online courses, making it difficult for instructors to monitor student engagement purely through observation and recollection. By tracking student engagements digitally, CourseKey Engage presents an accurate record for each student, making it easy to understand student engagement.
Humanize the online learning experience to imrove student engagement
Higher engagement is tied to stronger comprehension, increased motivation to persist, higher morale, and better overall learning outcomes. When even a small number of students engage, it takes on the “snowball effect,” leading to other students becoming more involved in the course and eventually creating a highly engaged group of students.
Could your online courses use a boost in engagement? Request a demo of CourseKey Engage today by filling out the form below.