Keeping Students Engaged And Productive In A Remote Setting

In response to the Coronavirus crisis, many schools have been forced to either move online or shut down operations completely. The ones that have moved online have ensured the safety of their staff and students, but are now faced with a new challenge: keeping students engaged and productive in their live online courses so that they learn what they need to and graduate on time.


Luckily, platforms like CourseKey were built to keep student engagement and focus high, which are tied to strong academic performance.

Keeping Students Engaged

Think of your average in-person class. Before and after the lecture begins, students can chat with one another and form connections with their classmates. During the lecture, students can take notes and ask questions, and occasionally the instructor will pause to ask if anyone needs anything repeated. But now that your courses are online, how are you making sure that the environment stays engaging?

Engagement Through Polls

John Medina, researcher at the University of Washington and author of the book Brain Rules, found that in a lecture setting our brains stop paying attention after 10 minutes. That means that to keep students engaged, instructors need to frequently restimulate students’ attention. Polls are a simple way for instructors to break up their lesson and regain students’ focus during the class session. Instructors can push out a poll for students to answer and then review live results immediately, giving students a way to participate in class and providing instructors with insight into student comprehension.

Engagement Through Chat

Peer-to-peer connections are an invaluable resource for students and a large part of what makes going to class enjoyable. When a course is online, however, those connections can easily be lost. 


Through our coursewide chat, students have a platform to connect with their classmates. Students can ask classmates for help, share notes, discuss poll results, and more. Instructors and admins can also use the coursewide chat to share supplemental course material and make general announcements. 


In fact, courses can use the chat to communicate safety and status updates. For example, schools in Houston used it to verify student safety during Hurricane Harvey and schools in California have consistently used it to verify student safety during wildfires. In times of unprecedented disaster, having that extra avenue for class community can help make students feel less isolated.

Engagement Through Questions

Students can also communicate privately with their instructor through the platform. When a student has a question during class, they can submit it to the professor through the Ask A Question feature instead of unmuting themself and interrupting the lesson. Similarly, a student can submit a question outside of class. Think of this function as virtual office hours, a key component to a successful online course, where students can have one on one communication with instructors.


CourseKey’s engagement tools keep student involvement and focus high. Instructors can make their presentations interactive, keeping students focused, and students can feel like they’re part of a collective group, instead of progressing through their programs as individuals. Providing interaction with their peers and instructors helps students form relationships that make them more inclined to stay enrolled.

Measuring Students’ Comprehension During A Transition

Online courses can be difficult for some students, especially in times like these when students who signed up for an on ground education have to move online due to reasons outside of anyone’s control. 


Taking online courses provides its own set of challenges, like trying to find places at home to log in for class when sharing a residence with family or roommates, potentially being a study-at-home mom trying to balance taking care of children with staying attentive to the live course content, or facing new life disruptions like potential job loss or sick family members. 


While making the sudden transition to online, assessments like quizzes and exams can be used to identify which students might need extra support from the school. Students who are underperforming in their graded assessments might be struggling to balance live online courses with life at home, and monitoring assessment results provides another way for schools to keep a pulse on which students might need extra support in these trying times.


CourseKey’s assessment platform gives you the option to administer different types of assessments in a live online setting. Frequent assessments not only keep students engaged, but provide instructors with insight into which parts of the course material students are struggling with (if any). 


Through consistent evaluation of students’ learning, instructors can understand how their students are progressing and can take action to help them if necessary. 

Ensuring Quality Of Education

Ultimately with the move to online, you need to make sure students are still getting the same quantity of hours and quality of education that they would in an on ground setting. And if they aren’t showing up or they aren’t staying online for the whole lesson, then they’re not. Luckily CourseKey does time-based attendance with secure user verification so you can see who might be struggling with the online environment and can reach out, offer help, and make sure they feel safe and stable in these trying times.

Making The Most Of Remote Learning 

Student and staff safety are a top priority, especially in situations like our current global pandemic. While moving online is certainly the right call, schools are faced with making sure students are still engaged and productive in their courses. CourseKey’s engagement, assessment, and attendance tools can help you ensure that students are in attendance, staying involved in class, and getting the best chance to succeed and graduate on time.


To learn more about the CourseKey platform, or see how it can benefit your school specifically, book a demo at the link below!

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