World Teachers’ Day: Enhancing Engagement During Online Learning
In 1994, the United Nations established October 5 as World Teachers’ Day or International Teachers’ Day. The date is celebrated worldwide and signifies a campaign to help people understand the importance of teachers in the development of our society. In this article, we see how much education has changed in the 21st century and what teachers can do to keep up with technological advances.
When the pandemic took the world by storm, teachers of all levels and disciplines had to leave their classrooms for an undetermined amount of time and swap them for computer screens. However, no matter how simple or complicated the rest of the world finds video conferencing, it is that much harder for educators. They not only have to communicate with their students but also find a way to recreate the highly interactive and collaborative feel of a real classroom. In this article, we’re looking into 6 tips you can use as an educator to keep your online learners motivated and engaged.
6 Tips For An Engaging And Interactive Virtual Classroom
1. Set Up Your “Classroom”
Although online learners are not in the same room, they still need to have a uniform learning experience. Therefore, before online courses start, make sure that your material and classroom appearance are up to a standard. Specifically, prepare all notes, presentations, etc., in a digital form that’s compatible with your learning platform. If you’re using multimedia, test your audio and visual quality beforehand. Another important detail is finding a neutral and distraction-free background. Finally, remember to smile and look motivated to encourage communication and participation.
2. Make The Most Of Your Tools
When faced with a sudden change from in-person to remote learning, many educators tend to get hung up on the things they have lost. But what about all the new exciting tools online platforms give you that you didn’t have access to before? Whether we are talking about interactive whiteboards, drawing tools, virtual games, chat options, or breakout rooms, online learning can breathe new life into the classroom as we know it. If you take the time to explore your new virtual “toolbox,” you’ll realize that there are countless creative ways to keep learner engagement and morale high.
3. Visualize Learning Goals
An organized classroom can benefit educators and students alike by facilitating the process of tracking learner and curriculum progress, accumulating all material in one place, organizing assignments, and providing a common point of reference and communication. But apart from creating a hub such as this one, you must also encourage learners to use tools that elevate the learning experience, such as graphic organizers for goal visualization or speech-to-text tools to streamline the note-taking process. Allowing access from different devices can also encourage learners to practice whenever they have free time.
4. Encourage Collaboration
Collaboration is a big part of in-person learning, which is why it is also necessary for the virtual classroom. During collaborative learning, learners complete an assignment by combining individual tasks. Ultimately, they end up learning something new while working together and exchanging skills and ideas. Shared documents, breakout rooms, chat boxes, or forums can help you implement collaborative learning in a meaningful way and promote skill acquisition via teamwork. Just make sure that learners know the directions of their assignment, have access to learning material, and understand what the expected result is.
5. Incorporate Movement
Something educators often overlook during online classes is getting learners to move. However, staying put for long periods of time will likely cause learners to lose focus. It might sound hard at first, but there are ways to incorporate physical movement in your online classes. For example, learners can stand for certain exercises, get up to pin a note on a board a few steps away from the screen, or switch to a mobile device so that they can walk for a few minutes. This way, they will get a much-needed break that will help them regain their concentration.
6. Keep It Concise
Considering that online students are in the comfort of their own homes with distractions teachers have no control over, you should give great importance to the pacing of your class. As a general rule of thumb, keep a fast pace and present information in a brief and concise way. If you’re using videos, make sure they only last a few minutes. Steer clear from lengthy explanations and slides full of text or you will soon see many confused or uninterested faces. Finally, use a mix of different activities and take breaks after challenging tasks.
Teachers are valuable members of our society, making sure the next generation has all the necessary tools to develop their talents and find their place in the world. This World Teachers’ Day we celebrate the way they rose to the occasion and acquired a whole new set of skills to adapt in these times of immense change. Hopefully, the tips we shared in this article will help educators all over the world boost online learner engagement so that they can continue to pass on knowledge and shape the future.