Strategies to Keep Students Engaged Online

By Rodney Gammons
📅 September 22, 2020
🕑 Read time: 4 minute(s)
Strategies to Keep Students Engaged Online

Zoom alone is not enough to keep students engaged in class, especially with everything that’s going on in our world today and all its distractions. Students are used to getting information quickly and in a thrilling fashion. The challenge for instructors now is creating this engaging environment, oftentimes with limited time and resources.

Principles identified years ago by Chickering and Gamson still apply in today’s online teaching. These principles will guide you when creating an environment to keep your students engaged.

Encourage student-faculty and student-student communication

It starts with faculty-to-student interaction. Students should be given multiple ways to interact with you online—from virtual office hours to class discussions. Encourage student-to-student interaction by utilizing group work, discussions, and tools like breakout rooms in Zoom.

Encourage active learning and give prompt feedback

Promote authentic learning by incorporating active learning activities in Zoom, using online polls for real-time responses, and create opportunities for students to share experiences.

Emphasize time on task and communicate high expectations

Include communication expectations in your syllabus and Start Here module—from expected response times to netiquette guidelines. Immediate, formative feedback helps guide learning and is a strategy all instructors should adopt.

Respect diverse talents and ways of learning

Lastly, respect diverse learning by providing students with multiple ways to learn content. Utilize videos, text, and images in your teaching.

Like any course, you have your objectives, purpose, and class structure in place before you begin. Going online doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice everything that worked in your face-to-face model. Strategies like icebreakers can still be utilized. Games like ‘Two Truths and Lie’ and ‘Introducing Each Other’ can even be done in online classes to keep students engaged and to initiate efforts in building an online community. Introducing digital formats like GIFs and Memes into your icebreakers should be taken into consideration because students are so familiar with using them on social media and their mobile devices. Asking students to share their favorite Meme or GIF could foster a humorous online environment.  Remember, every challenge starts with a question, and our question is, “How can I transition my class online and keep students engaged?”

TagsActive Learning, Assessments, Canvas, Collaboration, Course Design, Engagement, Feedback, Group Work, Learning, Online Teaching, Pedagogy, Student Success, Teaching