Virtual education can be a source of great relief for teachers and students. Teachers can teach from anywhere, and students are also not bound by geographical location. So more students from rural, poverty-stricken, and marginalized sections of society can participate in the learning process. Virtual education is also suitable for kids who struggle to fit in ordinary classroom settings. But virtual learning is not without its struggles and challenges.
First and foremost, not all students have access to technology and a stable internet connection. Other problems that students face during online classes include a sense of disengagement, communication barriers, and difficulty for students to show their presence. Not all students are eager to raise their hands and participate in class. There are often those who are reluctant to share their opinion. It could be because they are less interested in getting noticed, have trouble expressing their opinion, are introverted, or just going through a rough day. Student engagement has become a hot topic, especially due to most educational classes now being conducted online. That is why you need strategies and teaching methods to keep students engaged, pay attention to the issue under discussion and be alert and ready to participate.
How are teachers managing virtual classrooms?
Globally, many teachers are not comfortable with e-learning. Keeping students engaged is a constant struggle. Owing to this, institutions are eager to hire professional trainers with expertise and a degree in Educational Leadership in Curriculum Design to help these teachers overcome this hurdle. These trainers understand the difficulties these teachers might be facing in keeping their students engaged and enhancing their interest in virtual classes. They help them develop activities through simulation-based training. Some of the proven strategies to improve student engagement during virtual classrooms include:
- Do not compromise the decorum of the class
Maintaining the decorum of the class is very important, especially during a virtual session. Give the students proper instructions about where and how to sit, and avoid all the distractions present in the surroundings. Choosing a platform that gives a classroom atmosphere with two-way communication is essential. In an introductory session, tell your students how to mute and unmute the mic, raise their hands, share their screens. If you have young students or adults, things might be easier for them, but using these communication channels can be challenging for kids. So, giving them proper training in the presence of an elder is very important to ensure their adequate interaction during the follow-up sessions. Moreover, make sure to sound encouraging and cheerful instead of being rude and dispiriting.
- Learn by doing activities
Students can get bored easily if they listen to long lectures with no creative activities. You can also not keep the students’ interests intact if you give tons of multiple-choice questions to your student during each class. Ask your student to create posters and plan activities to solve a problem depending on the class topic. For instance, for geography classroom, ask students to bring a model of the earth or similar other things.
- Use modes of learning
To make your class more interesting, use different modes of learning. For example, instead of giving a lecture all the time, play relevant video and audio clips for them. You can also send them a link to a YouTube video, ask them to gather more information based on the idea of the video, and center your class on the video-related discussion. Let some students present one view while another group of students counter-talk their ideas. Other ways include creating discussion forums, sending large documents through email, and recording screencast videos. The students can watch them later whenever they find time during the day. But make sure whatever format you use, it should not be difficult for your audience to understand. This way, you can create a healthy discussion in your class, making it mandatory for every student to participate. To ensure that, keep point scores for individual and group discussions.
Another way to engage the students is to create your own educational videos to make learning materials easier to understand and the everyday learning process more entertaining. Including videos in your lessons will better cater different student’s learning styles, especially visual learners. You can also partner with a company that makes explainer videos for education, as they can write clear scripts to grab the students’ attention and make the main ideas and concepts stick.
- Create badges for good performers
Another way to increase student engagement in an online classroom is to make it more exciting and entertaining. Nothing can be more fun than rewards and pursuits when it comes to learning and competing. You can give badges to students based on their class involvement evaluated based on the random questions during the class. This way, students will ensure that they don’t miss anything during class. In addition to that, the badges will also encourage students to perform well to be awarded titles such as the student of the week or month, etc.
- Offer timely feedback
Students highly appreciate being given regular feedback since this allows them to work on their shortcomings. On the contrary, if they are not consistently or timely informed about their lack, they develop the habit of repeatedly making the same mistakes. Therefore, regular and accurate feedback should loop with daily teaching sessions. It is always recommended to give detailed and precise feedback highlighting the positive points yet referring to the deficiencies so that the students do not feel demotivated.
Virtual classes are challenging, but it does not imply that you have no way to make them more fun and engaging for kids. Various techniques and strategies mentioned in this article are an impetus for all the teachers struggling with online classroom settings. Making sure that your students stay engaged, interact and voice their opinions in class is the only way to enhance their learning.