How to Improve Student Engagement during Online Classes

My startup operates an Internee Training Programme twice a year to give skillset to the unemployed youth of the country. Due to COVID19 Pandemic, my team is unable to arrange training sessions for them so we decided to them online training on various tools that can be helpful for them. Improving student engagement during online classes is our biggest worry.

What is student engagement?

refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning.
Learning improves when students are inquisitive, interested, or inspired.

The instructor is sitting in front of a computer unable to know either student are learning or even paying attention to the lecture or not. There are memes all over the internet where you can see students even watching movies and seasons during online lectures.

After testing various tools and strategies, this is precisely what I’m doing to improve student engagement.

Online Tools to Improve Learner Engagement

The tools I’m using for my classes have free starter packages and I found them quite sufficient for us. So, you don’t need (to worry about) financial expense. I know it’s difficult to get any institution or company to buy you extra tools for that.

PowerPoint is boring, Try InVision

Don’t believe my word for that, A Harvard study suggests that you should stop using PowerPoint. PowerPoint is the visual aid of the presenter, not the presenter is audio aid of PowerPoint. It’s super difficult to maintain the audience interest during class if you are teaching from a PowerPoint presentation.

improve student engagement using whiteboard sketches
Please do not blame Invision for my bad drawing skills

I’m not suggesting that you should abandon PowerPoint completely but move towards a hybrid model. Whiteboard sketches are way more engaging than the PowerPoint presentation. InVision is a very nice free tool I’m using these days to draw flowcharts and explainer images during the live session of my class and response is pretty good. Even I enjoy doing that.

If you still want to continue with PowerPoint only, here are the PowerPoint tips for academic presentations I learnt from experts.

Ask non-subject questions using Sli.do

Every instructor at every level engages students (especially backbenchers like me) using non-subject questions during a normal class. It’s fun for them to answer it and helps maintain their attention towards the instructor.

I found Sli.do during an online session on Online Businesses by Google. It’s super easy to administer and participants can answer without registering to the website using only an event code. Ask questions like what did you eat in Suhoor? (Muslims are observing Ramadan these days) and let students answer you. You can also organize polling as well on this tool.

Sli.do allows you to share instant and anonymouse results with the students as well.

Keep your camera turned On

I myself attending a few online weekly sessions as well. If the camera of the instructor is turned on, it makes a real difference to improve the attention of the students towards the instructor. We will all know watching something is far better than listening to something only.

Plus one when the instructor looks at the camera, it helps make an eye contact with the learner as well.

Brainstrom ideas using MindMap

If you have Mac, this is an amazing app I saw during an event. Speaker was collecting ideas from the audience and then generating mindmaps using this Mind Node App.

Other things to try

There are few other things that you can try to maintain the learners’ interest in the class.

  • Ask Questions
  • Go slow, repeat thrice if needed
  • Show videos
  • Give innovative assignments

This is not the ultimate solution to this problem, please share your ideas in the comment section below.

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