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The 1-2-3s of Student Engagement Online

Student engagement is a crucial part of effective teaching and learning.  The already difficult task has been further complicated by remote learning. When working in an online environment, the level of student engagement can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. It’s difficult to gauge this metric of your classroom since students have the option to do things like turn off their video call screens and merely listen to your lecture. 

Here are some of the best tips to help increase student engagement in your virtual classroom.

Use positive reinforcement. Even when dealing with older students, it’s essential to remember that they are human and respond well to being valued. Positive reinforcement can be used whenever students do things like leave their video screens on and unmute to answer questions. 

Instead of making this a mandatory requirement, which can isolate students with slower internet services or shy students who may be embarrassment about appearing on screen, use your ability to uplift students and encourage them to turn on their cameras and begin interacting.

Keep the class entertained. Even if you are teaching something as monotonous as statistics, there are ways to keep students entertained and active during your lectures. Whether this involves handouts, online games, or consistent ice breakers, interjecting the lecture flow with engaging tools is a necessary step toward student engagement, and entertaining students is one way to do that.

Make your material relevant. This might be more difficult to do if you are working with more classical humanities subjects like history. Still, it’s not hard at all when you think about how interconnected learning is to students’ everyday experiences. Remind students that historical characters are real figures, mathematical practices have real value, and science works all around them on a daily basis.  Reminding students of these things can help bring an emotional aspect into your classroom and remind students to continually see aspects of their education in a new, pertinent way. 

No matter what resources you utilize to increase student engagement, the most important aspect is you yourself as the educator. If you come to class engaged, excited, and positive, students will respond in kind. If you only talk about how tired you are, how much you hate remote learning, or something else negative, then students are likely to turn their cameras off and have negative attitudes as well. While it’s okay to be honest with students, never forget that you are setting the mood for your classroom not only for that day but for all of the days in the future.

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