Tips to Improve Student Engagement in a Virtual Classroom
Amidst Covid-19 pandemic, higher education now heightens online programs and courses. Online learning seems not an easy endeavor not just for instructors but for students as well. There is a need to heighten student engagement. This could mean a flock of online learners in this type of learning environment that needs retention of students’ focus on eLearning. So, here are some engagement strategies educators in higher ed can do to improve online student engagement.
Improve student engagement with two strategies
While lectures are becoming more interactive for student learning and engagement, often times this isn't extended to the time between online classes. Unfortunately, more than 20% of students are described as disengaged throughout the term. Historically, student engagement focuses on positive behaviours, creating a sense of belonging and increasing achievement for students.
Increasing student engagement means to:
- Provide high-quality learning experiences that meet incoming students' expectations
- Align the learning goals with the students' post-graduation aspirations.
- When students submit an assignment, learning shouldn't stop.
When students submit an assignment, learning shouldn't stop.
When students are viewed as thinkers, knowledge is generated through collaborative efforts that encourage students to be curious while learning in an online environment. This can be achieved by providing a mechanism for assessing the learning quality of the students through cognitive activities at a higher level of the learning process.
Incorporating both peer-to-peer evaluation and feedback-on-feedback can further enhance student’s higher-order critical thinking and comprehension of course material and coursework beyond the traditional classroom. As students complete assignments, they have a greater opportunity to understand and comprehend the task at hand. Through peer evaluation, they have the chance to analyze existing or newly found knowledge which in return will increase their curiosity. The application can be seen through the feedback students will provide on one another's evaluations. Here, students will have the opportunity to engage with their peers through a virtual classroom community outside of class in real-time.
Keeping student's prepared before entering the classroom
The concept of the Flipped Classroom Model (FCM) is that basic content instruction is introduced before class and strengthened in class with the support of peers and teachers in a collaborative environment. This pedagogy has been adopted by several professors and now with the implementation of technology and social media, specifically multi-media resources, this can become even easier.
Using Kritik to create open discussions or to create questions that tackle real-world problems will encourage inquiry-based learning from students. Whether it be watching video lectures and conferencing, conducting research, or designing or performing experiments students will be actively engaged while completing learning activities. Team-based learning is also encouraged as students can receive immediate feedback before debating or completing group work in class.
Including various types of activities can make FCM can enable professors to have students learn while building out course content. For example, instructors may ask students to read a chapter of the book, put on a "teacher hat" and create a question out of the content of those readings that can be used for quizzes and exams.
Additionally, since the FCM places great emphasis on autonomous learning for students, learning assessment and student progress can be a concern. To integrate flexible assessment methods that allow for a comprehensive investigation of teaching and learning, rubric-based assessment offers a great solution. A great online teaching and learning solution that implements the pedagogy of Bloom's taxonomy is Kritik's peer assessment software. Given that Kritik allows students to evaluate and receive feedback on these evaluations, additional feedback can help steer students in the right direction.
Make Learning Social and in Multiple Communication Formats
Online instructors should consider social media to spice up online courses and engage their students in learning. When used properly, social platforms help establish a classroom community among students and instructors.
Online education gives instructors various ways to communicate with their students. Discussion posts, discussion forums, and other group discussions are just among the avenues for student interaction. Instant messaging, home page announcements, and embedded video and audio are now the norm. In fact, online instructors now create explanatory screencast videos as they are inexpensive and easy.
Heighten student engagement to give students a better, if not the best, learning experience outside the traditional classroom.
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- J. Membrillo-Hernández et al., "Student Engagement Outside the Classroom: Analysis of a Challenge-Based Learning Strategy in Biotechnology Engineering," 2019 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2019, pp. 617-621. doi: 10.1109/EDUCON.2019.8725246
- Angus, M., McDonald, T., Ormond, C., Rybarcyk, R., Taylor, A., & Winterton, A. (2009). Trajectories of classroom behaviour and academic progress: A study of student engagement with learning. Mount Lawley. Western Australia: Edith Cowan University. Australian Education Union. (2008). New Educators Survey 2008. Results and Report.
- Brooks, M., & Brooks, J. (1999). The Courage to Be Constructivist. Educational Leadership, 57, 18–24. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov99/vol57/num03/The-Courage-to-Be-Constructivist.aspx
- Flipped Teaching, On the Alert. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.awec.ntu.edu.tw/flipped-teaching-on-the-alert/?lang=en