In a world where learning is going virtual, teachers must become more concerned about how to keep students engaged. Many teachers already know how students can easily become bored, distracted, and demotivated during physical classes, then how about in online classes?
Educational neuroscience expert Dr. David Sousa defines student engagement as the amount of attention, interest, curiosity, and positive emotional connection that students have when they are learning. That is whether in the physical classroom or on their own. Dr. Sousa stresses that to effectively reach students in today’s high-tech landscape, teachers must change the way they teach.
In his book “Engaging the Rewired Brain”, Dr. Sousa shares findings on how the brain develops throughout childhood and adolescence to guide teachers who are dealing with tech-addicted learners. For active learning to occur, students must be willing to participate in class. Learner engagement is also essential because the associated skills help students to excel in school and in their careers.
Since we mo longer expect things to return to how they used to be prior to the pandemic, it’s best for teachers to follow effective strategies to keep learners engaged. If you teach virtually or considering a hybrid teaching model, here are a few things to help you foster a greater learning engagement during your virtual classes.
1. Ask Interesting Questions
Long after the COVID-19 outbreak, some educators are still strategizing on how to effectively align with the developments in the education landscape. However, as teachers, schools, and students embrace the new normal, it’s essential to analyze and understand the impact of the global pandemic on learners.
To substantiate, Research by EdWeek Research Center found that student motivation and morale were significantly low post-Covid-19 worldwide. So, it’s now up to teachers to develop strategies on how to motivate students and keep their engagement in class high.
Since virtual teaching may be new to some teachers, it might as well be new to some students. Many students mostly held gadgets for social media and gaming, but now, they have to use the same gadgets for learning.
First and foremost, active learning occurs in a well set up otherwise many teachers and students are bound to waste their time during online classes. With that fact, it’s essential to prep for an ideal learning environment; free from noise and distractions. Then when it’s coming to the real virtual classes, teachers can try out the following;
Brainstorming: Since physical interaction may not be possible, it’s best for teachers to start with a brainstorming session. Brainstorming activities activate the mind and help students to become more aware of what they are learning. Besides, it can increase interest and interaction between the teachers and the students. Also, it encourages students to share their opinions during classes.
Asking Questions: If it’s an intricate topic, it’s best you pose questions in a simpler way. Beginning with simple questions can help students understand concepts from the root. Also, it can help stimulate curiosity and motivate them to study on their own. On the other hand, also, encourage them to ask questions. Asking questions is a sign of attentiveness and inquisitiveness which helps students understand concepts better.
2. Make Classes More Fun
Learning sometimes tends to become boring and exhausting, especially when it’s remote. When this happens, students find it difficult to achieve the already set SMART Goals or lose interest in subjects. Do away with monotony in your online classes by introducing a charm to them. First and foremost, you can introduce a storytelling session where students can share stories or personal experiences.
Sharing experiences awaken the mind and encourage students to express themselves. On the other hand, initiate debates and quizzes on different topics or life concerns. It will increase participation in class and contribution level. Apart from that, you would have helped to develop students’ thinking capacity or creativity.
3. Build a Culture of Feedback
Feedback is an essential part of the communication cycle. It generally indicates how one understood the message and helps to formulate a proper action. With distant or online learning, students experience more communication gaps. That may include late or no feedback. With that, it’s essential for teachers to develop a culture of feedback.
Let your feedback be constructive, timely, and actionable. Ensure to respond to student queries positively in order to build morale in them. On the other hand, try to understand how your students feel during classes. It will help you understand their problems and develop strategies on how to produce better learning experiences to keep engagement high. You can use tools to personalize feedback sharing to help students understand you better.
4. Gamification, VR & AR
Technology has led to new developments such as gamification, virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR) among others. These developments in the education landscape are making a huge difference in the learning experience. Depending on the learning technologies you use and what you teach, you can choose to gamify learning experiences since many students enjoy gaming. According to a 2019 research, 67% of students found gamified learning more motivating and engaging than traditional courses. There are different learning-based gamification software on the market to help teachers improve learning engagement.
Similarly, VR and AR are enhancing learning experiences worldwide. Teachers can leverage these technologies to help students understand intricate concepts better. AR and VR in online learning facilitate conceptualization, allows inclusivity, and help students to take action rather than merely read about concepts.
The realistic imagery involved especially with virtual reality creates experiences where learners remain engaged and enthusiastic.
5. Push for Collaboration
Collaborative initiatives are excellent in building teamwork among students. Today, there is a range of tools that teachers can use for collaboration between or with students. These include Google docs, discussion, and web-conferencing tools like Zoom. These tools effectively allow student and teacher collaboration, especially when working on the same assignment.
If you haven’t given these tools a try, it’s best to consider them in order to create room for timely feedback and proper project management. Tools like Google docs allow teachers to review student work during class and even comment. Making changes as per the comments is also easy and it can help students review their work timely.
When such collaboration exists between the teacher and the students it helps students engage more in their studies and helps them create time for their personal lives. With all this, they will find online classes convenient, flexible, and more productive which increases student morale and engagement.
6. Lead by Example
The way a teacher manages a classroom speaks volumes. That’s why it’s essential for teachers to plan in advance before taking on a class. There are several things that teachers must keep in mind as they teach online, but let them not forget their conduct. The way the teacher carries him/herself during class is a big influence on the student.
Ensure to display an ideal model of conduct to command respect from the students. It also helps mitigate the chances of disengagement during a class. When a teacher delays appearing for class and teaching in a poor noisy, and distractive environment, all this increases learning disengagement.
Command attentiveness, student participation, and interaction by displaying a high degree of professionalism. That doesn’t mean that a teacher should never joke or provide free time for student interactions, but the teacher must be more formal with any utilized rule of engagement. When a teacher shows seriousness, students will take online lessons more seriously. The levels of attentiveness and participation will also level up.
Summing it up, the era of virtual learning is only in its inception as educators see it as a way to provide flexibility in the teaching profession. But it also goes back to teachers to ensure that they produce quality professionals for the future. Whether you have been looking for better ways to foster greater learning engagement in online classes or trying to embark on remote teaching, we believe our approaches here will be an ideal guide for you.
About the author: Jessica Robinson loves to write interesting and knowledgeable blogs regarding business management, education and life to satiate the curiosity of her lovely readers. Currently, she is serving as a content manager at the ‘Speaking Polymath’. Every piece of content that she writes demonstrates her immense love and passion for her profession.