How to Increase Online Learning Engagement

Rashida Beal
Jan 12, 2023
How to Increase Online Learning Engagement
How to Increase Online Learning Engagement

In fall 2020, approximately 75% (11.8 million) of all undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course, and 44% (7.0 million) of all undergrads exclusively took online courses. This number dramatically increased from years prior due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and online learning continues to be part of the education landscape.

While online education is becoming increasingly popular amongst k-12 education and college students, it can be difficult to keep students engaged with the coursework.

Online platforms allow for flexibility, but they can also open the door to outside distractions. It’s challenging for any online teacher to find a strategy that encourages students to engage with the course material and pay attention.

Here are some ideas to increase online learning engagement and promote effective digital learning while still challenging students.

Include Captions in Online Learning Videos

One of the benefits of online learning is that it can be more accessible for students, especially those that have disabilities.

If you are creating a course that is fully virtual with on-demand content, you may record and upload video lectures for students ahead of time. Even if you're also streaming lectures in real-time, creating a video library is a helpful idea. However, it is important to make sure that they are accessible for all students in your course.

Simply adding subtitles to your video lectures can help all kinds of students learn better, but it’s especially important for those with hearing impairments. With Maestra’s subtitle generator tool you can easily add accurate subtitles in over 80 languages.

All you need to do is upload your video and audio file and Maestra will automatically generate the subtitles for the video.

Leverage Visual Aids

Online teaching can be difficult with the short attention spans of modern students. Getting them to focus on a task is tough, but drawing on more senses can help. Visual aids provide context and examples while keeping instructors on track during the lecture.

As an instructor, it’s easy to overcompensate with a lot of moving parts and visual engagements to try to keep students engaged.

Visual aids are an important part of online instruction but don’t rely on them solely. Be mindful of the visual components you include. Graphs, charts, relevant memes, and more can all help. Pay close attention to the design of any slides/videos you use, as you don’t want them to be overly busy.

Pop Quizzes

Active learning strategies are the best way to engage students. Students may not enjoy them, but one of the best ways to ensure your students are engaged is with pop quizzes. Sprinkle them in throughout the lecture, or consider quizzing at the end of the entire video or stream.

Be sure to note in your syllabus that you may include pop quizzes. However, you don’t need to say exactly when or how often they will be!

To ensure they are helpful and not overly stressful, make them worth a very small portion of your student’s grade (or don’t grade them at all). Even if you don’t grade the quizzes, you can see which students are engaged and which may need some additional assistance.

A quiz in this manner is a great way to test active learning, even if students don’t get every answer correct. If students can recall readings from before class and the important facts given in the lesson, an instructor can examine just how much students are retaining and learning.

Include Detailed Examples

It is important to provide detailed examples so that students feel better about engaging with the material and learn more from the experience.

This is the best way to display key concepts of a lesson as it gives students context about the concept and something to relate it back to, while also encouraging them to think about real-life experiences that they can relate to.

Make Engaging Content

Don’t be afraid to use different mediums to engage students. Create an active learning classroom, even if it's online. Leverage multiple methods for course content, so that students can find strategies that they enjoy and learn from.

Depending on the course you are teaching, there may be more outside resources available that you can research.

For example, some social media videos can provide a lot of accurate information and can engage students because videos can provide some visual aids you may not be able to do on your own.

If you are teaching something that may have a relative impact on current events or can relate to pop culture, don’t be afraid to make references. They can help students understand the content by relating it to something they already have some knowledge of.

Sound effects and music can also increase students' attention span as it keeps them in the learning experience. For example, if you are teaching American History, have your students listen to musicals like Hamilton or 1776 and make comparisons between the two and the actual events.

Discussion Boards

Student engagement in online learning should be active and show that students are making efforts in their own learning. One way to do this is by having students participate in online discussion boards. Students can create and respond to discussion forums to respond to another response, ask and answer questions, and also make connections beyond the online classroom.

Showcase Your Personality

A lot of what makes a course exciting for students is the instructor themself. Don’t be afraid to show a bit of personality and be silly from time to time. Students will remember you more for the activities they are engaged in and how much you helped them learn from those activities.

Hold Virtual Office Hours

Students may often have questions or concerns that they do not feel comfortable talking about during the class session. If you are hosting virtual classes, it is a good idea to also hold virtual office hours.

The reason for this is to provide the same accessibility and flexibility to students that the online classroom does. Not every student is a traditional student who lives on or close to campus. Some may be working outside jobs or caring for their families outside of class time.

The students in your learning community may come from a variety of different backgrounds or circumstances that don’t permit them to come to campus and visit your designated office hours.

How you host virtual office hours can be just as flexible as your classroom environment. This simple exercise can increase the relationship between teaching and learning for you and your students.

You can either have set hours in the day, or if you want to provide students more flexibility in case they can’t attend those set times, allow them to send you an email with their availability and schedule a time for the two of you to meet in a virtual setting.

Use a virtual platform that is accessible to most folks, such as Zoom or Google Meets. This alone can increase student engagement as it shows that you are willing to go the additional step to help students and build a bond of trust that will encourage them to continue their education.

Provide Video Transcripts

Along with adding subtitles to videos, it is smart to provide transcripts for any recorded video lectures or any outside video content.

 This, again, increases accessibility, but also assists students who may find it difficult to listen to a lecture for an extended period of time.

Students can follow along with the transcript to increase retention. This is very helpful for students who have hearing impairments and those who learn best with written content.

Maestra will do all the work with their efficient and accurate video to text transcription tool. Upload the video you want to transcribe and Maestra analyzes the file to provide an accurate transcript of the video. If there are any inaccuracies, you can manually go in and correct them.

The same thing can be done with audio files as well!

If you have any teaching assistants or students who want to assist, you can share the transcripts with them to help edit and make sure they are accurate.

Use Maestra Software to Boost Online Learning Engagement

Maestra wants to make sure that all of your students are able to access and engage with online learning. Our tools are built to assist students and you by providing accessible transcripts, subtitles, and editing capabilities to make your online classroom experience seamless.

To learn more about Maestra and what it can do for you, request a 15 minute demo or try for free today!

Rashida Beal
Jan 12, 2023

Keep reading

Even more stories from Maestra

View all
Online Classes 101: What You Need to Know

Online Classes 101: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 in early 2020 only accelerated the digital transformation that was already in progress. Many people turned to the digital world...

Rashida Beal Rashida Beal
Twitch Text-to-Speech

Twitch Text-to-Speech

As a Twitch streamer, you know how important it is to entertain your viewers. You must engage them in any way you can or they will quit watching your channel...

Rashida Beal Rashida Beal
How to Download Reels from Instagram without the Watermark

How to Download Reels from Instagram without the Watermark

As creators try to battle the ever-confusing Instagram algorithm, posting Reels has been one shining way to stay...

Rashida Beal Rashida Beal