Effective online teaching often requires more planning and more effort. We have  to reimagine our syllabus and pedagogy and deliver more engaging, interactive, and flexible online coaching.

While engaging students online can be more challenging, the learning experience can be as good or even better than in the traditional physical classroom. 

Here are some simple and straightforward ideas to make your online courses more engaging and meaningful.

1. Create a connection with your students

The emotional component in a class is the key to engage your students. This is especially true in online environments.

Both students and coaches need interaction to build trust and create meaningful discussions. So start creating this connection as soon as you kick off your lecture.

Use storytelling and visuals to talk about yourself. Give the students the opportunity to know you better by asking questions about your career, your research, and your teaching methods.

Use fun ice-breakers to encourage teamwork and build trust.

Dedicate the first five minutes of your coaching class to ask your students how they feel, what their expectations are and learning goals, what are the difficulties they are facing. These will make participants more at ease and keen to interact.

Use personal and professional stories throughout the lessons to create a fun, safe, and effective learning environment.

2. Create a sense of community

Online communities are quickly becoming a critical part of the digital strategy for many organizations as a platform to establish ongoing conversations, trust relationships, and meaningful engagement with their users.

The feeling of belonging is a strong driver of engagement. We all need to be part of something. That makes us feel unique and seen. The community plays a central role in making meaning.

According to the Social Learning Theory, learning occurs in a social context when the learner observes and then models a behavior. Knowledge is created through peer-to-peer communication, debate, critical thinking, and the development of leadership skills.

Building a sense of community for your classes helps learners become accountable for their own learning goals and outcomes. They are more likely to work together to achieve those goals and take ownership of their learning process. It encourages peer learning, trust, and teamwork.

3. Identify and support struggling students

Struggling students are more likely to disengage and drop out of courses. And during the current crisis, many students are struggling. Some are even encountering issues that go beyond the academic context. Many students suffer from attention deficit, hyperactive disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, and other forms of attention, stress, and fear of judgment and evaluation and other disorders.

Empathy in teaching has never been more important. Check-in on your students regularly. Reach out to them or send out alerts promptly when you see they are falling behind. Make yourself available during office hours to provide one-to-one tutoring or just having a quick checkup. Encourage students to reach out to you when they feel lost or when struggling with the learning material, technology, schedules, or other non-academic needs. Be more flexible over deadlines, provide different assessment alternatives, and give timely feedback.

4. Keep the conversation going

Remember that most of the learning happens outside the classroom. Make sure to keep the conversation going even after the course.

Backchannel discussions are a great way for learners to have an on-topic conversation during and after the lecture. It is an effective way to keep your students engaged during an online session and continue the conversation afterward.

Use forums, chats, Facebook groups, or live Q&A.

This not only strengthens learners’ engagement but also encourages peer-learning. Reward students for participating in the discussions by both asking and answering questions.

4. Mix it up

To keep your students’ attention and enhance the learning experience, mix things up.

The current situation is probably the best opportunity for us, educators, to change the way we approach student assessment of knowledge and learning outcomes.

There are plenty of fun and meaningful activities that promote active learning.

Be more flexible and provide a wider range of activities to develop and assess students’ knowledge and skills.

Ask students to take part in Socratic seminars, record and edit explanatory videos, write blog posts, or play simulations.

Giving them a plethora of activities increases their chances of actually learning the subject and their commitment to the class.

5 .Quiz it up

Add quizzes at specific points within videos to make them interactive and engage students in online learning. For example, you can add a quiz to check comprehension after each of the main points in your lecture. You could ask an essay question so students can show an example of what they’ve learned. In addition to being a great way to gauge student learning, in-video quizzing decreases mind-wandering and helps students retain the information.

Bottom Line-

Whether synchronously or asynchronously, with proper planning we can replicate remotely almost all activities and experiences we would do in a physical classroom.

Effective online learning relies mainly on empathy. If we want to provide better online classes we should not forget about the human component.

Do leave your comments below and let us know what you think about the tips given and do share your experiences after using these tips!