How to Increase engagement in Online Classes in the Post-Pandemic era
The covid 19 pandemic hastened the shift towards remote learning, leading to unprecedented growth in online learning technology. According to the 2022 eLearning market report published by Polaris Market Research, the online learning market, valued at 214 billion dollars in 2021, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 20.5% during 2022-2030.
Public and private organizations can deliver virtual learning materials and courses by purchasing ready-made eLearning tools. Digital technologies successfully connect students and teachers via the Internet; however, the transition to virtual learning can be challenging.
According to the 2022 survey by BestColleges, 47% of online learning participants report decreased opportunity for student engagement compared to traditional in-person learning. This, in turn, may negatively affect student learning outcomes, resulting in poor class attendance and lower grades.
This article provides several tips that may help organizations and teachers increase online learning engagement, thus mitigating the challenges above.
Selecting the right online learning platform
The choice of an online learning platform may play a critical role in student engagement. Therefore, we recommend paying attention to the following criteria to choose the best-fitted option.
First, consider a solution that allows teachers to create and share engaging course material. Interactive videos, graphics, and infographics are just a few examples of content that can easily be motivating and engage students.
Still, content alone is not enough to establish an engaging online class, so we recommend choosing software with the following functionality.
With this feature built into a platform, teachers may create the required number of online classes, as well as customize their structure and sequence. As a result, teachers may help students proceed from simple to more complex tasks, ensuring convenient and motivating online education.
For instance, such functionality may be used for providing online art classes. To begin with, trainers may teach students the basics of perspective and composition and then smoothly move on to drawing complex shapes or creating 3D models.
Providing a hassle-free user experience is also crucial for student engagement; this is where an online booking feature comes in handy. With its help, students can quickly sign up for classes when and where they want, at home or on their way to work.
Besides, that is not the only advantage teachers and organizations can reap from utilizing a platform with online booking – in particular, they can improve attendance rates. For example, an organization can send automated emails and messages to students, reminding them of their bookings and dates of this or that training.
If a student cancels a booking, another student can sign up for the same time slot, which is now accessible again. Therefore, an organization can maximize reservations and thus gain an opportunity to engage even more students.
In addition, online booking can provide valuable information about students (of course, if they share some details during registration). For example, an organization may use data on student age or demographics to tailor course content in tone or style and make it more engaging for specific target groups.
Built-in analytics tools help educational organizations and teachers measure the current level of student engagement and generate insights for increasing it continuously. For instance, depending on the specific data analysis functionality, teachers may track engagement based on the following parameters:
- Attendance tracking
- Account activity and login frequency
- Number of new course submissions
2. Ease of use
A solution may offer all of the above functionality, but it may still fail to empower engaging learning if it is inconvenient, counter-intuitive, and unhandy. On the contrary, if a platform is easy to use, students may start attending online classes and studying without spending time and effort adapting to the solution.
Accessibility may be considered another critical parameter regarding student engagement. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2020-21, there were 7.2 million students with health conditions and impairments in the US. Accessible software helps engage and support students of all categories of equally efficiently, increasing the number of potential learners. Cloud-based webinar solutions have a big advantage. Access to the software from the browser level helps students connect regardless of location.
As an online communication tool, VRI gained importance in educational settings, owing to its ability to support the needs of deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
Improving student socialization
According to the 2022 research published in JAMA Network Open, students who attend fully online classes report higher levels of mental health distress than those who combine online and one on one classes. One of the reasons is that isolation makes students feel lonely and not supported during their online courses, which may negatively affect their engagement.
To solve this problem and better socialize students, it is worth conducting joint training of student groups, for example, via webinars. For instance, it might be worth using Zoom, Google Meet, or other similar tools.
3. Gathering student feedback
Paying attention to constructive feedback and criticism is another way to improve student engagement continually. However, for feedback to be more effective, students must clearly understand its purpose.
Here, the educator's task is to remind students why assessment is necessary and how it may aid in student success. For example, an educator may encourage students to give feedback on online classes in general or their work precisely and then try to incorporate their wishes.
One of the ways to gather feedback is to use personal communication channels like email or Slack. Online forums and chats with group mates also enable students to leave direct feedback, report problems, and share student perceptions about the classes. For instance, learners may use these to point out parts of the course that positively or negatively impacted their experience.
4. Providing certifications
A certificate or diploma is not just a confirmation of successful course completion but also an additional motivation to take the online learning program. A certification proves that a recipient has demonstrated specific knowledge and professional development of skills at a predetermined level.
Certification may be formal, like continuing education units (CEUs), or informal, provided by a particular organization. For example, Udemy and Coursera gain students electronic diplomas at the end of each course, confirming successful training completion.
Attracting teachers with the right skills
Engaging students via online classes may only be possible with a skillful and acknowledged teacher. The following skills are essential for any professional who teaches students online.
A teacher may have a powerful online learning tool at their fingertips, but it will only be effective if a teacher can use it properly. Therefore, it is worth ensuring that a teacher can use Zoom, Discord, or other software solutions in online classes.
Without solid communication skills, teachers can fail to motivate and engage and encourage students. A teacher should be able to transfer knowledge and skills through communication, as well as provide clear feedback via chat or private messages.
While sending or receiving information via portal or website, there should be an HTTPS or SSL certificate that can secure the data between the student’s PC and the website.
Evaluation and assessment
Assessing knowledge and achievements plays an essential role in student engagement. Therefore, a teacher should be able to evaluate student success both in person and via online tests, questionnaires, or other digital tools.
Adding some element of gamification
Gamification is an effective way to boost students' engagement as it may turn the educational process into an exciting quest. Dividing the entire academic course into manageable quests helps to control users' attention and gives them a sense of victory with each completed block of exercises.
In addition, gamification often implies using more engaging and non-standard ways of assessing students. For example, study participants may receive virtual points for completing their homework; then, the number of these points is considered when ranking students.
One way or another, gamification encourages the users' emotional involvement. Here are some of the gamification components which may be implemented in the learning process:
Different storylines implemented in the learning process may increase student engagement and captivate their attention.
New levels that open up as students complete the tasks develop their interest and make them curious about what happens next.
Students can be divided into groups (clans, guilds, etc.) that share common goals and objectives and play together to achieve them.
Badges and medals are special virtual items or fixed images on a user's profile. They reward students for their learning efforts. For example, at Cisco, gamification allowed employees of various positions to participate in team trials and earn three levels of social media certification.
In Duolingo, students earn their first Wildfire badge by using the app for three consecutive days. The highest 10th level rewards students who successfully use the app every day for a year.
Deloitte gamified its approach to training by offering badges and certificates to motivate top-level executives. As a result, the organization noted that training course engagement and completion rates have increased by more than 50%.
Although not all these gamification components could fit into the existing online courses equally well, organizations and teachers can implement at least some of these elements into learning, as these may significantly increase engagement.
For example, Kyle Wood, an art teacher and creator of the podcast Who ARTed, uses digital badges to celebrate the accomplishments of his students. This way, Kyle increases student progress with rewards and, at the same time, gives them new goals.
Using the right online learning strategy
While the above recommendations and tactics may improve student engagement, an organization or teacher can achieve the maximum result by combining them within an integrated learning strategy. Apparently, in an ideal scenario, such a strategy should be developed from scratch and be based on the unique requirements of a particular learning provider.
However, organizations and teachers can choose and adapt one of the ready-made and proven online learning strategies to save time and effort. For example, they may consider implementing an active learning strategy focused on more deep engagement of students in the learning process.
In this approach, a teacher does not treat students as passive recipients, which should be filled with knowledge, just as an empty vessel should be filled with water. Instead, a teacher helps students seek and acquire knowledge through their own efforts, guiding them when needed, thus bringing engagement to a qualitatively new level.
Here are the main components of an online active learning strategy according to the Center for Teaching Innovation (CTI) at Cornell University:
Practice with feedback
Students attend an online lecture or watch a training video, then apply the obtained knowledge in practice and later gain feedback from a teacher. After all these steps, a similar process repeats in short iterations. Here is how it may work in practice.
In the simplest scenario, teachers can ask students to take an online quiz to test their knowledge after watching an online lecture. If a lecturer leaves comments while creating the quiz, students can instantly get an explanation of all correct and incorrect answers as they pass through it.
Peer learning is another essential component of an active learning strategy. The idea that underlies this concept is quite straightforward – any valuable knowledge students gain should be discussed with their peers.
For example, a teacher can take a pause during an online lecture and entrust students to discuss a particular topic or solve some practical problem using the information contained in the class. Thus, students can systematize, correct, and consolidate knowledge with their peers, which also contributes to socialization.
The last but not least component of an active learning strategy is the precise organization of the learning process to make it understandable to every student. Students have to understand what exactly they are supposed to do, what results are expected of them, what is the purpose of their learning, what the deadlines are, and what are the evaluation criteria.
For example, a teacher can provide written instructions in Zoom chat, clearly describing a particular task and explaining the final result. In addition, such instructions can provide examples of how other students complete a similar task and information on deadlines and grading.
The covid 19 pandemic accelerated the shift toward online learning. An increasing number of public and private organizations now connect with students via the Internet, providing educational materials and classes online.
However, establishing an effective online learning environment is a challenging task. In particular, teachers must be able to engage students in the remote learning process, which is more difficult than traditional in-person interaction.
Fortunately, organizations and teachers have several practical ways to increase student engagement. Implementing the right online learning platform, enhancing student socialization, providing certifications, and attracting the right talent are just some of them.
Post pandemic is all about online learning!How to increase engagement in online classes is a question.Right learning platform solves half the issue