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11 Ways to Engage Students in Online Classrooms

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we had no idea what was in store for us. Now, almost a year later, people around the world have adapted to a new way of life: an online life. Teachers have had to move everything online – from tutorials to one-on-one lessons to grading – with almost no guidance. This has left teachers wondering how to engage students in their online classes. 

Since we’ve entered 2021, most teachers have grown used to the idea of teaching online. And if that’s the case, teachers are going to have to get savvy with their online classes. Since educators are used to conventional methods of teaching, we might need to be a little creative and think outside the box. To get you started, here are 11 ways to engage students in online classrooms.

For more interesting content about teaching, read our article about why hybrid learning is the best option for your students

photo of a frustrated woman biting a pencil trying to learn how to engage students online
Learning how to engage students online doesn't have to be difficult.

1. Use creative solutions to grab attention

Most people these days have a relatively short attention span, and if you’re teaching children, this is multiplied tenfold. Listening to a monotonous lecture can be difficult in normal classrooms, but in online lessons it’s even harder to pay attention. It may sound simple, but breaking up your lesson content with photos, graphics, animations and videos can bring back the attention of your students. It may actually make them enjoy learning! GoAnimate, Vyond, and Voki are great tools for adding some fun elements to your lessons.

2. Engage students with gamification

Gamification is a wonderful way to improve student engagement, flow, learning, and knowledge retention. Gamification uses video game concepts like achievements, progress bars, points, badges, and leaderboards to leverage the our fulfillment system while teaching. The majority of research conducted has shown that gamification has a positive effect on students. Gamification can be applied to a LMS and in online classrooms and make learning feel like a fun and exciting experience. And it’s not just for children! Students of all ages can benefit from gamification. Kahoot, Knowre and Brainscape are popular educational gamification tools.

3. Make learning socially interactive

The social aspect of learning is important for children and adults alike, and it does not have to be sacrificed with online learning. Features like chat rooms, interactive learning, forums and instant messaging between students and teachers can provide the social elements of classrooms in an online environment. It is important to ensure that students have social interactions with one another, as feelings of isolation are a particular disadvantage to online learning. 

meme distance learning old woman engage students online

4. Use current internet culture and memes

While it may seem trivial, personalising your lessons to meet the needs of your students is imperative. Include memes, Tik Tok videos, and anything viral, because these are the things that connect us all. And what teacher doesn’t want to make their students laugh! Utilising some current internet culture will definitely earn you brownie points and engage students if their minds were drifting.

5. Make content easily accessible

Make sure that all the content your lessons require is easy for your students to access. Update your faculty’s website, and ensure all documents are easy to download and view. It will make your student’s lives easier by having everything running smoothly. 

6. Give students self-assessments and progress reports

When learning online, it can be difficult for teachers to make sure the students understand the material. To help you both, enable the students to self-assess. This will give the student an objective perspective on their learning. Also provide the students with regular progress reports and feedback, as this helps to encourage feelings of engagement and inclusion in the online lessons.

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7. Train teachers and instructors

For teachers to be able to teach students online, they have to adapt to the online learning culture. This might prove difficult for some, particularly those not so technologically capable. If possible, teachers should be trained by professionals to learn the latest technologies, software, and trends. Giving online lessons may be a walk in the park for some teachers and impossible for others: giving them all the same opportunity to learn these new skills will undoubtedly benefit the students.

8. Deliver lessons on multiple platforms

To keep things interesting, try to use multiple platforms for your lessons. For example, teachers could include a Google Slides presentation, an interactive online game, an educational video and a game of Kahoot in their lesson. Using different platforms will keep your students attentive and interested in the lessons. Inviting guest speakers or allowing students to do research and teach the class can also bring a fresh perspective to the lesson and engage students.

photo of a blue mug next to zoom meeting on a laptop

9. Keep content fresh

Lesson content should always be kept fresh, regardless of the age or level of the students. Having new content each year will help keep the lessons relevant to the current context, and teachers won’t find themselves bored with teaching the same content over. Relevant lessons about current events, modern opinions and up to date materials will interest the students much more than outdated content.

10. Present clear, uncomplicated material

The information that is provided in an online classroom should be clear and organized. Learning online adds another layer of difficulty for the students to comprehend, so keeping this in mind and making things as easy to understand as possible will help in teaching your students. 

11. Respond to students ASAP

Although teaching online is a hurdle for many teachers, it must not distract the teachers from making their students feel heard and understood. If students are having any difficulties, it is important to respond to them quickly. Learning at home can be difficult and frustrating if the students feel they are not able to talk to their teacher. Have a way to communicate personally with your students so they can feel that they are able to ask questions when they need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I engage students in online lessons?

Treat online learning as an alternative method of teaching rather than an in-person class taking place online. 

  • Use creative graphics, photos, animations and videos. This will make the intake of information less monotonous. 
  • Make use of modern online teaching methods. Gamification is a fun way for adults and kids to learn while having fun.
  • Ensure your students socially interact with one another. Have a ten minute break when the students can talk to each other online without the presence of a teacher. 

What will make online learning easier for students and teachers?

  • Train the teachers and students so they know how to use the LMS, Google Meet, Zoom, Kahoot or whatever programs you will use.
  • Allow students to self-assess. 
  • Make sure all content is able to be accessed easily. 
  • Respond to your students’ queries as soon as possible. 

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