Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Are you struggling with bored or distracted students? Low interest and low grades? Students with so much potential, but no love for learning?
It’s not you.
In virtual classrooms, it is difficult to get students to unmute themselves or appear on camera. It's like the student who would rather not raise their hand or participate in class. But now, you cannot read body language to determine what’s wrong.
Teachers everywhere struggle to implement lesson plans that maximize student engagement. How can you keep your struggling students engaged when your top students are ready to move on to the next topic? How can you keep your various students on track in a physical classroom, let alone online?
Today, it is more essential than ever to try new strategies. In this new age of virtual learning, facing the still unmet need to make education accessible for all students, we must change.
Educators shape our future. Let’s go into the future.
The New Reality for Education
Over 1.2 billion children in 186 countries are out of the classroom due to Covid. It is essential that we bridge this gap.
Online learning and new technology can maximize student engagement. And every teacher should use these modern resources to engage their students and improve their education. Online education is beneficial to students especially when a physical classroom is no longer an option.
For 86% of online degree graduates, the value gained from their online degree exceeded or equaled the cost they paid for it.
Student engagement has never been the easiest task, whether in the physical classroom or online. You may feel lost when it comes to implementing strategies that make sure students absorb your lessons.
How to increase student engagement in 5 easy steps
Why Learning Online is Beneficial
Virtual learning is here now, whether we like it or not.
Students turn their cameras off. Some students become distracted and don’t respond. Working students and parents have to multitask, which detracts focus from the lesson. Additionally, students will always have the mute and camera-off options to hide what they are doing.
Virtual learning is not the only issue. So is virtual teaching. With the struggle of learning at home comes the difficulty of teaching from home. Should teachers stick to the static visual lesson plan? Do they give the reins to the students and let them learn on their own? Or is there a better way?
We certainly think audio learning is a great solution to these issues. By providing a different format of learning, audio learning can strengthen students’ ability to comprehend lessons. Your students may not thrive under visual learning but can supplement it with a format better suited to their needs.
18-year-old Jay-len McLean from New York City said, “I feel like I’m not learning anything because all I’m being asked to do is go onto Google Classroom, look at the assignments and finish them by a certain due date. So it’s like I’m teaching myself rather than being taught.”
Students aren't satisfied. Teachers are frustrated. So something needs to change. And Jay-len is onto something: teachers need to lead the change. By implementing better practices, educators have the power to raise student engagement to new heights.
While it might be harder to maintain student engagement when everyone is in different locations, virtual learning provides a new level of flexibility and accessibility.
If your student is juggling a full-time job and raising children, they might feel more comfortable logging into their virtual class while being able to cook dinner, versus having to drive to campus and be apart from their family. The comfort and accessibility afforded by virtual learning allow these students to devote more headspace and focus to the lesson in front of them.
Mobile learning can even be done on the go with apps that are audio-based, which can make learning even more accessible for students who must work or multitask simultaneously.
How Can We Improve Student Engagement?
1. Support your students through the online transition.
The OECD average of computer illiterate people hovers around 25%: a quarter of the population will have trouble accessing online learning methods.
Having one-on-one conversations is extremely important. Your students may feel hopeless about online learning because they are simply confused with the technology. It takes time for students to get used to the pace and technical functions of a virtual classroom.
90% of high-income students regularly login to online instruction. Only 60% of low-income students do.
Our solution: Invite students to a personal one-on-one meeting at the beginning of the semester to guide them through the technology and answer any questions. Create a relationship of trust between the instructor and student.
Remember that virtual learning should be focused on convenience and accessibility, not complications and confusion. Estimates show that average-quality remote instruction causes students to lose 3-4 months of learning content. Lower-quality remote instruction leads to 7-11 months of learning losses. That's huge.
2. Utilize memory chunking to teach classes more coherently.
Memory chunking is the act of separating information into groups, maximizing what people learn from a lesson. Richard E. Mayer, an educational psychologist, developed the Segmenting Principle, a proposition that connects learning and chunking.
The Segmenting Principle calls for breaking complex figures into two or more smaller figures. Each small figure should have different parts (more chunks)! Presenting each figure with a graphic reinforces the materials. And breaking lessons into shorter chunks with pauses in between helps people learn better.
The learner’s working memory won’t be overloaded processing information, falling behind as the lesson continues to be taught.
Instead of assigning one long project, or lecturing one long lecture, try splitting chunks of the work into smaller time frames. This allows your students to engage and ask questions.
You can reinforce and clarify different steps throughout the way, instead of waiting until the end to answer questions or find that your students didn’t understand all along. This strategy allows you to help students build their puzzle, piece by piece. Instead of procrastinating on an assignment that’s not due until a month later, your students will feel supported and enthusiastic to keep completing the small steps it takes to get to the big goal.
3. Don’t stop the emotional interaction.
The limbic system is the part of the brain that deals with emotions and memory. It's powerful enough to override both rational thought and innate brainstem response patterns. This formation at the top of the brain stem is in control of our attention spans, a critical component of retaining information. It is really emotion, and not repeated thought, which provides a boost to memory.
Interaction between your students encourages the emotion needed to maximize learning. And it also prepares students for the social skills they will need in a professional environment post-graduation.
Working from home has been an attractive choice for many workers, even before the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean the social interaction stops! When your students explain and help one another learn a subject, it provides a valuable learning experience.
Isolation threatens that. Alone and feeling alienated, your students will feel less attached to learning. And they have no one to encourage them.
Students can also contribute to peer opinions that are similar to or contradict their own. It's an effective way of getting to know each other and engages students.
A Stanford University research study explained “[Peer learning] includes emotional support that learners offer each other, as much as learning the task itself. In peer teaching the roles of teacher and learner are fixed, whereas in peer learning they are either undefined or may shift during the course of the learning experience.”
Who wouldn’t be more engaged when learning becomes a team effort? Learning with others enhances the experience. Students hold each other accountable. If one is engaged, the rest will follow. So lean into that. Separate your students into chat rooms for discussions. Encourage group projects. Help organize Zoom bonding times outside of class.
4. Lead your students to take action.
Students feel frustrated. They often believe that the content taught in school lacks real life application.
If your students understand why they’re learning a particular lesson and how it will impact their lives, there will be more investment and engagement. And they’ll complete the assignment with their full attention!
It is important that E-Learning lessons are less focused on theoretical knowledge, and more on practical skill. The best way to see if your students have absorbed the subject matter is to simply have them talk about it!
You can create online forums where your students give their opinions on and/or summaries of the lesson. You’ll see the student engagement and comprehension first hand.
There can also be time set aside in class to get feedback from your students. Encourage natural conversation and seminar-like discussions in live streams where students explain what they thought about the lesson.
School is a time for students to express themselves and their opinions. This should still be present even when working online. Empowering your students will motivate them to be more engaged. They will learn important skills: conversational skills that can be used for future meetings in a corporate setting. Social and psychological skills learned during your student’s educational career can translate into their professional career seamlessly.
5. Utilize alternate educational resources.
There are currently 850,000 active podcasts and over 30 million episodes. 103 million people in the U.S. alone listen to podcasts every week. This is great news for anyone who wants to try a different method of learning!
There is a clear correlation between learning styles and each student's engagement. If your student does not understand a lesson after their school-based learning applications, seeking other forms of instruction can help your student understand the topic better, which will increase engagement.
Alpe Audio is a great resource. We offer courses ranging from Machine Learning Guide, Mastering Marketing, and Breakthrough Advertising to more cognitive-based subjects like Rethinking Learning and Creative Thinking.
The idea isn’t to replace the classroom, but rather, to make sure that students come better prepared for your lectures. Making the material accessible to students in a time, format, and style that suits their lifestyle can achieve all of the above goals.gh to your students. And they will have fun listening!
The idea isn’t to replace the classroom, but rather, to make sure that students come better prepared for your lectures. Making the material accessible to students in a time, format and style that suits their lifestyle can achieve all of the above goals.
Accessible technology: Learning with Alpe can occur during work out sessions, washing dishes, or even driving from different destinations. As long as you have a mobile device, you’re ready to go.
Chunk the information: Each Alpe course is separated into several lessons to help chunk information for each listener. We want you to learn at your own pace. Alpe also includes a rewind feature that allows you to backtrack certain parts of your lesson where your focus may have drifted.
Utilize emotion and storytelling: Our storytelling introductions always place you in a scenario that relates to exactly what you’re going to learn. How awesome is it to let your imagination run free every time you listen?
Have your students take action with quizzes and mobile-first assignments: In courses such as our Breakthrough Advertising one, we include a mobile assignment that asks you to upload a photo of any advertisement of your choice, and apply the subtraction tool to mark or highlight any component you think doesn’t belong there. Have some fun and show us your skills!
Student engagement and excitement will only increase when one feels as though they have completely understood a lesson and the benefits it has to offer. Through practice, exposing students to complex ideas, and supporting your students, this engagement will result in greater knowledge.
Last but not least, do not limit yourself to this list! The best feedback you’re going to get is by simply asking your students what makes them want to engage and what doesn’t.
Allow yourself to be open-minded and trust your student’s opinions. Remember, every student’s engagement is unique to the individual and specific to the learning environment.
By maximizing the enriching aspects of learning and prioritizing teacher-student and inter-student interactions, you’ll see a huge difference in the virtual classroom. Now that virtual learning is the new normal, we must adjust and accept the fact that there are a lot of positive aspects. So embrace it and play around with it.
Let’s help our students become the best learners they can be, no matter the circumstance. Start using these tips to get your students engaged and eager to learn!