Online classes or virtual classes weren't entirely unheard of before our global transition to online learning. Some universities or colleges offer online courses from start to finish. Online education has been reserved for business professionals with limited time and mobility or people with special needs. But what would happen if all of a sudden, students and teachers had to ditch daily face-to-face school classes and undergo full online courses?
The answer is quite obvious; no one is prepared for that—especially teachers, who have been teaching face-to-face with students for many years. Teachers will have to adapt to the situation by learning how to conduct online meetings that are fun and engaging. Teachers have had to change their ways to online teaching, and they'll tell you: it's not as easy-peasy as people would like to think.
Student engagement is a measure of how engaged your students are to your lessons. It's the most important aspect of teaching and is the hardest to perform correctly.
Signs of excellent student engagement are:
With online classes taking place, student engagement became significantly more critical yet harder to achieve. Low student engagement means online teaching is not as efficient since only a fraction of the students' knowledge passes.
We've come up with seven tips to keep your students engaged in virtual learning.
Preparation is paramount for everything, including online teaching. Make your favorite tea or coffee beforehand and put it near your desk to keep yourself alert and hydrated. Re-read your materials and make sure you master all the nooks-and-crannies of the lesson. Doing this prevents "brain block" from happening.
A "brain block" is when you have no idea what to do next, so you fumble around, flipping your books or alt-tabbing for a few minutes while you search your materials. Remember, you don't want to waste your students' time. By being prepared, you eliminate unnecessary distractions and keep the flow going, thus, retaining your lesson engagement.
Communication between the teacher and students should exist outside virtual meetings. As a teacher, you should be proactive. Start a group chat, create an email list, or create a Google Calendar schedule. Make sure your students can reach you outside of class using an email, phone number, social media, or other messaging apps. But be sure to set "office" hours for yourself to create a boundary for your students.
Send a notification before your online meetings, especially if your classes are password protected. Some students may not be used to meeting online and will need reminding until they get the hang of their schedule. Regardless of your communication method, having one is vital to the success of your students.
Students shouldn't feel pressured in your online class. They should be relaxed and comfortable because students learn better that way. Start by decorating your background. You can accomplish a lot more by using live backgrounds that suit your lesson theme or adding cute signs behind you. Just don't use a boring plain black background.
Crack jokes mid-lessons, use your facial expressions, use hand gestures, speak cheerfully. Make your students smile and laugh! If you're unsure how to be active in your lessons, watch educational videos on YouTube and learn to imitate the intonations and gestures.
Nobody likes reading from a book and taking notes. It's ineffective, boring, and puts your students to sleep. Develop a fun and creative way to learn with your lessons. Help your students experience the subject instead of just reading about it.
For example, if you're teaching how to code in HTML, make your students open a website and press the "inspect elements" button. Explain each code as you go through them together. If you're teaching history, make your students take a virtual museum tour. Explain each painting, statue, or parchment as you pass through.
Experiences are more memorable compared to textbooks and are real-world applicable. Active learning is entertaining and informative and will keep your students engaged.
No one likes long online meetings. Staring at the screen for too long strains your eye, making it harder to focus. Online classes should be short yet memorable. If you need to set up long courses, set a proper break every 30-45 mins. Create a breakout room so your students can socialize, like actual school breaks. Students will feel refreshed after the break and ready for the next session.
Sometimes, things happen that are outside of our control. Students miss class, forget to submit assignments or are not being active enough while online. As a teacher, you should check in with your student and determine why they did not submit work or missing class.
You may find a student who needs help or did not have the internet at home that day. Being forgiving and coming up with a game plan to remedy the situation will let your students know that you care about their well-being and education.
While many teachers have set lesson plans, it is important to read the room and see where your students are at with the content. Do they need more time on a specific topic? Or are they ready for more? Listen to what your students are telling you. Ask them for feedback, and then act on that feedback to improve your lessons and teaching.
With adopting online classes more and more, teachers need to learn how to conduct online classes properly. Students' engagement level remains to be the most vital yet challenging aspect to execute with virtual learning. It's the teacher's responsibility to keep the students interested and engaged in online classes. A teacher should provide a relaxed environment to learn while simultaneously making the students experience lessons. Most of all, developing a relationship with your students will show your empathy towards them, and that relationship will translate into class participation even if the classroom is online.