Distance Learning and How to Keep Students Engaged in an Online Classroom Setting

By Guest, Jun 12, 2020

Distance_Learning_Blog_Header

Teaching and learning online is the new norm.

From kindergarten to college, all levels of education must adhere to social distancing mandates and embrace coursework accordingly, ditching what we all know about traditional classrooms.

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Benefits of Distance Learning

The movement towards distance education has undoubtedly proven to have its advantages. For those active in various levels of the academic field, online classes and remote instruction are already a part of the routine. 

It’s easier to set a pace that fits the needs of each student. The schedule is more flexible, and students can complete their workload in a way that suits them. Sometimes it can be difficult for students to get to a classroom, so being able to learn from home helps save money, time, and resources. 

Although the digital realm has grown deeply into the fabric of daily life over the last decade, distance learning doesn’t always work for everyone from the jump, so you must provide the right tools and learning curves to keep students fully engaged and successful. 

Challenges of Distance Learning

Having to shift all curriculum to an online format suddenly can be overwhelming for entire school districts and teachers who are most familiar with the physical aspects of a traditional classroom.  

Overall, the goal of distance learning in this respect is to create an accessible public school to ensure all students can fully participate. 

Elementary education and beyond

It is especially tricky for those classrooms full of younger children and students with learning disabilities who may need extra guidance and attention. New problems arise for students, educators, and parents alike. 

High school and higher education

It is also challenging to track progress and accountability, particularly for students in high school and those pursuing higher education.  Are they doing the work? Are they absorbing anything? How do you ensure that your curriculum is useful for all types of students in a virtual classroom?

How to Engage Students in an Online Classroom Setting

There are several ways to keep your students interested while learning in a virtual classroom. What works in your usual classroom may not translate well in the online world. You have to get creative! 

You will have to reevaluate every aspect of the education process. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you introduce a new topic to students?
  • In what format do you present materials?
  • How you assign coursework?
  • How you monitor activity and success?

Infographics are a great way to present information visually. Here are some guides we have that you could pull from:

How to make an infographic in 5 steps

E-learning infographics

Make learning materials accessible

No matter what level or type of institution you affiliate with, your student body will be diverse. There are numerous types of classroom software that you will need to research, including software that will accommodate more alternative models of teaching and learning such as automated transcription.

You must be ADA compliant for students with disabilities. What this means is that any document you present or assign in an online learning environment must be accessible for all types of people with different abilities to foster growth and inclusive education.

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How do you make online schools more accessible to all students? 

  • Be sure that you are using educational tools that are easy to navigate. 
  • Make sure that the coursework is straightforward for all types of learners.
  • Utilize accessibility features for students with disabilities, such as subtitles for videos or speech recognition, and use other assistive technology such as a screen reader. 

Learn more about making classes accessible by adding captions and subtitles to your teaching videos with Rev.com.

Here are examples of straightforward accessible learning templates that are easy to navigate:

E-Learning Protocol Template

E-Learning Project Poster Template

These education templates will give you access to many more examples.

Set the stage to increase participation

When you are creating an online curriculum, one of the most important things to consider is how your students will be able to engage and actively interact with their coursework and the classroom.

Students can quickly become frustrated if they have a hard time understanding what they are supposed to do. Be sure you present your assignment guidelines in a clear and easy to follow manner. 

How do you get them to retain knowledge? How do you get them to want to participate and enjoy what they are learning?

One way to do this is to imbed a weekly group discussion in the lesson plan based on the work assigned. You can create discussion boards, utilize online chatrooms, or hold video conferences using different types of classroom software. Interacting with your students face to face and in real-time can truly enhance the educational experience on all levels. 

It is also essential to provide one on one time with your students. It is easy, especially if you have a lot of students enrolled in one course, for some students to fall behind.

Don’t let this happen! You can offer office hours, allow scheduled times for Q&A, or make time for short meetings or chats with your students to ensure everyone is up to speed and absorbing the material.

There resources will help you create visually engaging presentations for class lectures, as a tool for retaining knowledge:

 Lavender Creative Keynote template

Nutrition Presentation Template

Circle Corporate Pitch Deck Template

 

 

You can look at more presentation templates here.

Maintain a consistent classroom environment

Overall, you must perpetuate a learning environment for your students that is stable. Otherwise, you will lose their interest quickly, and students are likely to fall behind. 

Tips and tricks for remaining consistent while online teaching:

  • If you start hosting weekly group discussions, stick to it to keep them engaged. 
  • If you offer office hours at certain times, keep your schedule. Don’t throw off your students. This will make it difficult for them to get in touch with you when they need your assistance. 
  • Make sure you are using good sources for classroom software.
  • Provide learning materials that are accessible to all learning levels and types of students.  This could be videos with captions and transcriptions of lecture.

How to Build Strong Teacher/Student Relationships Remotely

Teaching in a virtual classroom can prove to have many challenges, especially when it comes to cultivating meaningful relationships.  However, depending on your usual classroom situation, an online school could provide an opportunity to connect with students at a level that was not before possible.

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Think about schools with overcrowded classrooms. It’s pretty hard to capture the attention of every single student at the same time, no matter what grade or level you are teaching. If you are used to this setting, take the opportunity to focus on each of your students. 

You can do this by scheduling personal meetings to learn more about them. These interactions will help you assess how your students learn and offer attention that you may otherwise not be able to provide. 

If you are teaching younger kids, talk with their parents to help them better manage homework assignments. Also, if you have students with learning disabilities or are differently-abled, communicate with them and their caregivers so you know how to help them succeed in the best way.

Classrooms of the Future

Let’s face it. Beyond the immediate challenges the world is facing right now, distance education has been rapidly growing and will continue to do so. 

Embrace the technology we have

With the onset of advanced computer software, online classrooms are becoming more versatile, interactive, personable, and successful. It creates an immersive environment that, in the past, had left many students behind in the traditional classroom setting. 

The classroom of the future is here now, whether we like it or not. Embrace it by engaging your students with a new world of possibilities. 

 

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