Covid has been hard for everyone, and for K-12 it’s been especially difficult. Virtual and remote learning has been hard for teachers and students, but it’s here to stay as schools try to reach more students, avoid learning loss, and look to a blended learning future.
Schools that can make virtual learning a win for teachers and students will see better outcomes, more participation, and more funding as they reach and retain more students. Here are seven ways to increase student engagement in the virtual classroom.
1. Create assignment deadlines that are realistic for those learning remotely.
Being flexible is important, but it’s also important not to let too much time pass before taking action or assigning a grade.
We know from experience how difficult it is to keep students engaged remotely. One of the best things you can do as a teacher is create a schedule that includes realistic deadlines. If there are too many assignments or they’re due too soon, then a student has a better chance of getting distracted and procrastinating.
Give out prizes or rewards for work completed on time. This will encourage all students to complete their assignments early and avoid distractions that could hinder them from completing them on time.
Students are more likely to complete assignments on time if they know there is a reward or prize at the end of it. Even some students who don’t normally give in to distractions will procrastinate when they start missing deadlines, but by rewarding them with something small, you can help boost student engagement and participation through all stages of your course.
You can use gamification to great effect here, offering badges, level students up, having a leaderboard, and using other fun game-centric ways to make students want to meet these deadlines and make it fun for them. Having these visible in the virtual classroom adds to the fun of the experience.
If you need a platform that can help you set deadlines and reminders for students, and has built-in gamification for students, check out the Teach Beacon virtual classroom.
2. Use a short survey at the end of each class session so you can quickly identify problem areas and course corrections.
Short surveys can be part of the virtual classroom experience. They can be as simple as a single question, or contain up to 4-5 questions. These questions can be used to help the teacher assess how each student is doing on a day-to-day basis. Because you aren’t able to see the student in person, having this direct feedback from the student can be really valuable in assessing how they are doing, and how you can better tailor the virtual classroom experience for each particular student. Some questions you may want to ask include:
• Did you understand everything we went over today? Why or why not?
• What was the most interesting thing that happened today?
• How well do you feel you are doing in this class so far, and how can I help improve your experience?
You can even offer badges or awards for filling out these short surveys, which works into the gamification aspect of the classroom we mentioned in the previous point.
Because they are so effective, we built in an automatic way to both send short surveys in class, capture the results, provide gamification points, and point out important trends in student responses. Check out more here.
3. Provide more content outside of class hours, like blog posts or videos.
Giving students blog posts and videos after class is important. This way, they can do them without being in school. It’s much easier for a student to watch or read something outside of class than it is for them to pay attention in the classroom. Many students are more interested and motivated when they don’t have someone standing over their shoulder, and may feel less pressure to review materials on their own schedule. As long as these materials and activities tie into the virtual classroom lessons, they will absolutely boost student participation and engagement.
One great way you can do this is by taking advantage of our Teach Beacon virtual classroom because it gives you a place to put your blog posts, videos, and other learning materials that students can review at their own pace. It’s all integrated into one easy interface.
Even if they’re not available right away, getting this information to the student outside of class time is a great way to increase student engagement.
You can also include things like quizzes to help students reinforce their knowledge after class, and the automated nature of our virtual classroom makes this just as easy as it is in face-to-face classes. And yes, we have that too. Built-in quizzes, automatic grading, and providing students easy access to these activities with deadlines and reminders. The Teach Beacon virtual classroom has it all.
Once again, you can offer gamification badges and other goodies for completing these extra activities, (noticing a pattern?). On top of that, Teach Beacon collects all this data so you can see who is most engaged outside the virtual classroom, which helps you understand what to do during the virtual classroom session (noticing another pattern?).
4. Keep the virtual classroom engaging by creating a schedule and posting it in advance so students know what to expect throughout each session.
The teacher needs to make a schedule before any class starts. The schedule should have what students do and when they do it. This way, you can know what is going to happen next and if you need to prepare anything beforehand.
You can either make a schedule before class starts, or you can go back and edit it during the virtual classroom session if you need to make modifications on the fly. Either way is fine, but make sure your students know what to expect before they start!
This will help with student engagement because they will know when something important is happening in class. The schedule should include things like:
– Class introduction
– Lesson content
– Break time or activity time
It’s also great to use this schedule for students because they will know what activities are next, regardless if they’re online or not. So even if the teacher makes changes during class, it won’t affect them as much since they may have already done their activity by then anyway!
Once again, Teach Beacon makes this easy with the ability to create lesson plans beforehand, post them for students to review, and have a live outline in the shared notes section for dynamic changing during class, as needed.
5. Use team-building activities! There’s no better way to engage remote students than to get them communicating and working together.
Think you can’t do team-building activities in a virtual setting? Think again!
In fact, you should maybe even do more of them in a virtual setting. Fostering relationships between students is so important, especially when everyone is virtual because we crave belonging and it’s important to our psychological health.
There are many ways to foster these kinds of exercises—interactive whiteboard sessions, shared note-taking, and one of the most powerful, breakout room activities. (And yes, Teach Beacon can do all of those things).
Breakout rooms in particular are great because you get groups of students in smaller settings where they can interact with each other. Some really great activities to do in breakout rooms include:
– Who am I? (have students take turns asking questions about each other’s hobbies)
– Let’s play word association! (get students to respond with the first thing that comes to mind when they hear a certain word)
– What can you tell me about yourself? (students ask each other questions about themselves and then take turns answering them in front of their group members or even the whole class)
– Show me your talents! (get students to show off their hidden skills)
– Discuss classroom topics and prepare to give a short presentation together to the class
All these activities are great for student engagement because they are active. Students have the chance not only to listen and learn but also to have fun and connect!
6. You can also keep them engaged with polls, videos, discussion boards, random student selection for questions, or live tutorials during your time together.
It can be hard to keep students engaged in a virtual classroom. There are many ways you can do this, but there are some that are better than others. Some of the best ways include using polls, videos, discussion boards, and live tutorials!
Polls are great because they let the students see responses from each other and show what everyone is thinking. It is also great because it lets them see how everyone feels about something without having to answer questions individually with their classmates. It’s also really good for finding out if people know things or not because you can ask questions like “Who knows about this?” or “Do most people agree with what I’m saying?” and have them do a quick yes or no poll.
Videos are another great way to engage your students remotely through your virtual classroom. It can be a relief during a class to take a short break and watch a video together and have a discussion about it afterward.
Discussion boards are also a fun way to engage students with remote classroom activities. It’s fun for the whole class because it can be like a chatroom and everyone gets their own say about what they think. Or you could even use them as an activity where different groups post questions back and forth with each other on your discussion board, which is a great way of getting people talking!
Live tutorials are also a great way to engage students in the virtual classroom. It’s really nice for people who aren’t quite grasping what you’re teaching because they can ask questions and get clarification on content, which is always helpful. And if someone posts a question, everyone will know who answered it by looking at the virtual classroom interface to see who is speaking.
All of these things can be gamified to make them even more fun, and data can be captured on all of them so you can gauge participation from each student and learn who may need a little extra nudge. Teach Beacon is your jam if you want all of this at your fingertips.
7. Use a chat platform with students to increase dialogue between them and the instructor.
Make sure you use the chat platform to talk to your students. It’s really important because it lets you talk and answer questions. The more you engage with students, the better chance they will feel like part of a community.
It’s also important to use the chat platform because it is another way for your students to talk and answer questions! Student engagement will go through the roof when there are multiple ways for them to communicate.
Make sure that you include some activities in which groups have to talk to one another. These activities are really good for the students because they will get a chance to meet new people and learn through conversation.
The more ways there are for students to connect, the more likely they are to feel like part of a community and engage with the content.
Including activities where students have to talk is great because it helps them learn through conversation, which can be really beneficial! Plus, making sure you use an online chat platform gives you more opportunities for teaching and learning as well as data-gathering on participation from each student.
You want to be able to have a public chat forum and a private chat forum, depending on the activity and purpose. The private chat allows students to ask you questions they may be embarrassed about, and the public chat helps facilitate group activities and relationship building.
This is all possible with Teach Beacon! Contact us to learn about your free trial today to see how we can help your virtual classroom engage students like never before.
Keep an eye on attendance, participation, engagement, and student behavior patterns to help students who need extra help with virtual learning.
Like we mentioned several times in the bullets points above, having all of the data for activities across the board in the virtual classroom opens the door for an observant teacher to know who to help, and how.
The way to help students who need extra help is by paying attention to how they are doing. For example, if a student does not come to school or participate in class, it might be a good idea for the teacher to try and find out why this is happening. There may be an issue going on outside of class that’s affecting their participation.
For example, if attendance is down week after week, there could be something really wrong with one of your students. Paying attention to this will help you figure out what is going on so that you can work with them individually outside of the virtual classroom setting.
But attendance isn’t the only thing you want to watch for. You can see small trends and patterns in how students participate in the chat, the activities, and more.
Even better, Teach Beacon has predictive models running in the background to help identify students that may need some extra attention. So even if a teacher misses some signs (they are really busy people!), Teach Beacon can automatically bring those signs to their attention.
Gamification for student engagement.
We’ve mentioned this one several times above as well, and that’s because if you weave gamification throughout the virtual classroom experience, you can see dramatic results.
Gamification is a great way to increase engagement across the board for students, and it’s something that can be done really easily with Teach Beacon.
In fact, gamification takes points from the most popular system used by teachers (like grades) and brings them into an online learning environment!
Teach Beacon allows you to incorporate badges, levels, and progress bars to make it easy for the students to see their own growth through gamification.
And this is just one example. You can weave gamification throughout your virtual classroom in as many ways as you want to make the curriculum more engaging and interactive for students!
We hope that these strategies give all teachers, both those who use a virtual environment and those without access to such an amazing learning management system like Teach Beacon, some ideas on how to increase student engagement.
We are really excited to be working with schools that have adopted the virtual environment because we know it’s a great way to keep students engaged and having fun while they learn!