Keeping students engaged during an online class is demanding because the skill sets required for teaching online are different from those used in a face-to-face teaching. Online tutors put in EXTRA efforts to carry every student along. And with the home environment surrounded by potential distractions—such as TV, games, friends, and more—keeping students engaged, motivated, and interested in their lessons can be one of the biggest challenges online teachers face.
Every educator’s priority is to see his/her students respond positively during and after each lesson. However, some unforeseen factors could sabotage a teacher’s effort. They include:
- Poor network connection
- Students’ environment.
- Poor Learning Management Systems.
Here are tips to help you increase participation in a virtual class. Note that you have no control over students’ learning environment, as it is a virtual session. Nonetheless, these tips can also be helpful.
Tips to keep students engaged during a virtual session
- Develop an excellent online disposition.
- Effectively use technology to your advantage.
- Identify what inspires your students.
- Simplify lessons
- Build the self-esteem of your students
- Teach patiently
- Provide fun activities, in-between classes.
Develop an excellent online disposition
When connecting live via webcam or any other video-enabled platform, make sure to look presentable and dress responsibly. You can also check your background/environment and do away with every form of distraction. It is more motivating when students see your face while communicating. So you are expected to look lively because your disposition determines, to a great extent, how engaging your class could be.
You should also work on the tone of your voice and ensure your visual materials are top-notch.
Effectively use technology to your advantage
Although teaching online can be challenging, there are online/offline tools that could minimize these challenges. You can use a ring light and microphone to improve the quality of your online session. Whether you use—whiteboards, virtual games, pointers, drawing tools, or text editors—using a suite of different techniques can add color to your lessons and keep students engaged.
Make sure you know how to use these virtual tools and explain them to your students, so they feel confident while using them too.
Identify what inspires your students
This is one way to make real connections with your students. It is advisable to use the same mediums you would use in a face-to-face classroom for your online sessions—if you have had a physical connection with your students before.
But in a case where your first meeting is virtual, take time to have an interactive section with your students. Ask them questions and be sensitive to know what excites them, and be deliberate in your approach. You can also identify activities that involve clicking, typing, or talking to keep students engaged during a live online class.
Timing is crucial in online teaching. And one way to sustain the attention of your students is by using short sentences and simple words. Reading long sentences on screen can be tasking, so steer clear of lengthy notes and slides.
To simplify your lessons, have a detailed lesson note—you can use Planboard to create your lesson plan.
Short lessons are also an advantage to your health and that of your students. Also, learn to minimize the on-screen time for that course or subject—an online class should not last for an hour or more, except it is asynchronous.
Build the self-esteem of your students
Learning separately in an online classroom can demoralize your students. The best way to keep students engaged in an online class is to pay attention to all. That could be tasking, but it is possible. Make them feel valued. You could:
- Learn their names individually and use them throughout the lesson. Make sure they know yours too.
- Ask students to explain what they understand about a topic, maybe before and after each session.
- Like we mentioned above, identify students’ interests and integrate them into the lesson.
- Always give feedback on your students’ work; it gives them a sense of belonging.
- After each lesson, you could spare some time to chit-chat with each of them separately. This could help build a healthy virtual relationship.
- Be conversant to know when anyone is absent, and reach out as soon as possible.
- Stay positive, be relative, empathetic, flexible, and use encouraging words.
Remember that your students have different personalities, comprehension abilities, and backgrounds. It is okay for some to understand faster than the others, but endeavor to carry everyone along. You could also assign tasks to keep them engaged while you seek another teaching approach.
Provide fun activities, in-between classes
Your students must take their eyes off the screen at intervals. So endeavor to create leisure time in-between classes. While on break, they could snack, play games, or interact with one another. This rejuvenates them and improves student-student relationships.
Think of creative fun activities that could keep your students engaged in an online class—such as online games, imaginary drawings/painting, storytelling, and more.
Are there other tips you would like to mention? Let us know in the comment section.