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More colleges and universities are leaning towards online learning to cope with the
requirements of teaching in a COVID secure way. By designing courses that can be explored virtually, colleges also dramatically increase the scalability of their operations and can discover new sources of revenue. How Online Courses Can Replace Campus Education?
However, the challenges of providing quality teaching in virtual environments are often underestimated and students’ attention, now mediated by a screen, can often drop. There are ways to strengthen student engagement in online learning, however – read on for our top tips. How Positive Stress Affects Our Life?
1) Upskill Instructors For Online Learning
The skillset required for bringing teaching excellence into the online sphere differs
somewhat from in-person teaching, so course organizers need to recognize instructors may have a skills gap when shifting to virtual learning. Without face-to-face interaction and all the subtleties of body language that allows, the online learning environment can be alienating for students if instructors aren’t explicitly trained in ways of offering student support and encouraging interaction.
Don’t assume that the skills of in-person teaching will naturally transfer – run online learning conferences for your staff in advance of shifting to a virtual classroom and ensure instructors are familiar with the additional challenges this environment represents.
2) Offer Multiple Formats To Accommodate Learning Styles
In face-to-face teaching environments, students can choose to record class audio for
listening back, to take detailed notes, or to simply engage in the teaching style the instructor represents. In virtual environments, a paucity of formats can leave certain students behind if the learning styles they gravitate to aren’t represented.
Offering multiple formats will help to engage a wide spectrum of students, as well as
embracing emails and discussion forums institutions should embrace video and audio
resources for students. Instant messaging and chat room-style forums are a great way of encouraging dynamic student debate.
3) Encourage Activity
One issue with online learning is the static environment in which it takes place – no matter how many resources you offer your students, the medium of the screen will damage engagement as the physical space students are in – an office or, more likely a bedroom, never changes.
Wherever possible, learning materials should be related to the real world and assignments should include elements that encourage students out into the world – group assignments, case studies, or interviews with individuals in the communities are excellent ways to bolster your students’ digital experiences and encourage greater engagement.
4) Recreate The Social Classroom
In the absence of a physical classroom dynamic, instructors can leverage social platforms to recreate a community feel on a course. By encouraging students to communicate amongst themselves, engagement in the course can be strengthened as performance is now reinforced in a social sphere.
Adding a Twitter icon to your classroom’s homepage and building some hashtags around your course material can enable your students to bring course content into the social sphere. The organic discussions that emerge in these environments evidence independent learning and strong student engagement.
5) Gamify Your Course For Added Appeal
Gamification refers to the method of incorporating game-style rewards and achievements in course material to appeal to that part of the human brain that’s obsessed with ‘levelling up.’ If your students can get addicted to Candy Crush or Tetris, you can utilize that to get them addicted to (or settle for engaged with!) course content.
Gamify your course by adding achievement badges to student profiles when certain assignments are completed. Badges for extracurriculars encourage students to go above and beyond, and will strengthen engagement further.
6) Introduce Continuous Self-Assessment
When students feel a sense of independence and ownership over the course they’re taking, engagement increases. This sense of independence can be fostered by giving students more choice about the assignments they undertake and the opportunities they have for assessing their progress. More choice over assignments – both in terms of topics as well as formats for submission, from traditional essays to work involving case studies and practical skills – can encourage students to go deeper into a topic.
Self-assessment also encourages student engagement as students feel empowered to control their own learning trajectory. If students feel that quizzes or tests are too easy, enable an option for skipping them and pursuing more challenging material. Allowing students to alor their learning experience promotes their autonomy and has an important impact on engagement.
Creating dynamic and engaging online learning environments is a huge opportunity for institutions to cater to different styles of learning and access new markets. Digital learning doesn’t have to mean distracted students.
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