The pandemic has confined students, among others, to their bedrooms, where they are accessing virtual classes. Students find it tough to focus without the benefits of in-person classes, such as social interaction and physical movement. Virtual classes are resulting in falling grades and poor engagement amongst students.
Educators and administrators are seeking strategies for increasing student engagement.
What is student engagement?
In education, student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the motivation, they have to learn and progress in their education.
Why is student engagement critical?
Student engagement is crucial for better learning outcomes, emotional well-being, and better connection.
Below are the three easy strategies for engaging students in a virtual setting
1. Setting expectations for engagement
Studies have shown that when you set expectations for your students, they will work to meet them. Some expectation setting tactics are
-Sending email with course details such as syllabus, assignment date, and learning outcomes.
-Set office hours and inform students about them to encourage students to approach teachers.
-Send at least two reminders per week about office hours which will help maximize the use of office hours by students.
-Communicate early about expectations from students and how they can be successful in meeting them.
These tactics will preempt negative feedback from students during the course.
2. Building community between students
Lack of community is one of the common complaints of students, which has been accelerated during the pandemic.
-Build community by incorporating group assignments.
Use icebreaker questions to build comfort and camaraderie between peers, students, and teachers.
-Use breakout rooms for material discussion, which helps create interpersonal relations and make students feel comfortable to ask questions in a smaller group.
3. Incorporate social media usage
Statistics say that
- 59% of schools say their students use social networking for educational purposes
- 27% of schools have an online community for teachers and administrators.
Since students are already spending time on their phones for social and educational purposes, teachers must think of ways to incorporate social media into their mode of instruction. A few simple ways of doing this are
Use study-oriented Facebook groups where students can interact and get questions answered from peers in the absence of teachers. Such groups will encourage peer interdependence too.
-Weave in social media content for teaching and assignment submissions such as Tiktok, podcasts, or Youtube. Learn how to create a Tiktok - a bite-sized video-sharing app in less than 3 minutes here.
4. Gamify learning and reward wins.
Games encourage ongoing engagement. Gamification helps retain users by encouraging them to keep playing and gain more points, rewards, or discover more information. It gives players (learners) control because they feel like they are in charge of their learning journey, going from point A to point B.
Classcraft is a free tool for gamifying learning.
Apart from time-tested rewards such as pizza parties and raffles, teachers can incorporate social media by celebrating student wins on the school's social media.
5. Create an inclusive environment
As students come from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities, the faculty must know about them and their stories. This helps the faculty create inclusive material and allows the student to feel a human connection. For example, students from low-income families may feel embarrassed about their humble homes in a virtual classroom, or some may be conscious of their faces on video. Knowing nuances like these will make teachers more perceptive and appear more approachable to students.
Apart from only academically oriented activities, teachers can make students feel included by creating online events around various cultural and ethnic festivals.
To make learning accessible, the teachers should keep in mind their students' various education and engagement preferences.
The Photostudy app has been designed to enable teachers to communicate with students directly via email, text, and push notifications. Furthermore, the app is designed to deliver tutoring in bite-sized sessions, which is compatible with students' attention span.
If you want to know more about how the Photostudy app can help you improve student engagement in an online setting, then book a free demo here