How to keep the students engaged while teaching online?

Have you ever had any subject that you loathed in school but found it interesting when you learnt it again through an online video or a friend? For me it was physics. I studied it only to score marks because I found it boring in class. But I am sure that if Walter Lewis had taught me physics, I would have loved it. The sole reason for this is engagement. I never felt engaged with my physics teacher in the school and he was an IIT graduate. No matter how scholarly you get in your life, you haven’t done a good job in teaching if your students feel disengaged. And today, I want to help you get insights about how to keep your students engaged and be the teacher that your students mention in their success speeches.

                                            Make your own content

Students switch teachers to get access to not only good teachers but also good content. Since the industrial revolution, everything that the Europeans invented was through revising the content of the previous inventions. Each student, no matter how extraordinary, need content to revise because the human brain can only remember so much. 

This is the 21st century and getting relevant is just a click away. But if it was this easy, online education would be in shambles. The name of the game is engagement. Making relevant and ENGAGING content can keep the students from wasting time in finding better content. Making engaging content is not only a time saver but it also eases the process of learning. 

A simple example of this can be the pendulum chapter from physics. Now you will find unlimited text on the chapter but if you take the liberty to explain the concept by drawing the pendulum on the whiteboard or make a video about it, the students will thrive on the topic and revisions will be easier; quicker in case they play your video at 1.5x 😛

Please don’t make a mistake of issuing published textbooks and reference books that can be found anywhere on the internet. Make your own content, so that you have the confidence and the stronghold on the topic you teach. You should only refer them books for practice purposes. 

                                                          Minimalism

The ‘simple’ definition for Minimalism is,” a style or technique that is characterized by extreme simplicity.” The reasoning behind this is even more minimalistic. What would you prefer while learning architecture? A 500-page text about various buildings or a 200-page book about Auroville, illustrated with pictures and diagrams.

Minimalism is a term that is normally used for website designs but it also makes a lot of sense in content. Using fewer colour elements, the fewer text makes it easy for the students to grasp the topic and remember it due to distinct but simple features of the content.

As a student, I remember, nothing was more satisfying than a good bunch of notes. With so many resources at hand, the alchemists of the world have a huge opportunity to grind it out for the gold so that the students of this world feel that very satisfaction having a teacher’s minimalistic notes.

                                                            Central Hub

With so much content and so many teachers around, students tend to get bored easily when they cannot find what they are looking for. Make sure to organise the content intuitively. Keeping your space clean and comfy can allow the students to navigate through your portal easily. 

Like many points stated above, organising your content can be a time saver for the students. Navigating virtual content can be confusing. One wrong click can take you into a mirror maze. Tutors must make sure that her students do not suffer from these problems. 

Having a central hub can allow you to post the updates in the course. This is how tutors can ensure that the students don’t miss critical information. 

                                          Chatrooms and Discussions

A great teacher can provide you with a great solution but a great peer group can provide you with numerous great solutions. Subjects like maths are open to many simplifications and these simplifications can be unlocked by discussions among peers. 

The logic is pretty simple. The quality and quantity of your answer will increase efficiently if like-minded students work through a problem. This strategy helps students develop their critical thinking and allow them to explore the paths untravelled. Moreover, the students realise the mistakes made by them and they get an understanding of not making similar mistakes on the D-day. 

Another benefit of chat rooms is that students can post their problem on the group and many will try to get the answer. The asker will get his solution, the solver will get his practice and the other member will learn one new question. 

                                          Pan out your expectations

Tell your students what you expect of them. The most important thing that the tutors expect of their students is participation. Participation keeps the class interactive and the tutors can ensure that the class is attentive and interested. Participation in class can bring up new doubts and everyone can benefit from this process. 

The tutor can also ask for feedback so she can make sure what changes should be made to keep the class more engaged. Online classes should not be chaotic and controversial. Share your expectations for dress codes too. 

To avoid this chaos, you can make students come to an agreement so that every voice in the class is heard. Teachers need to ensure that they take up doubts of everyone in the virtual class. This is how the virtual class differentiates itself from brick and mortar. 

                                           Make them feel home

While teaching online, you need to keep in mind that every student is alone behind a screen and it can decrease their attention span sometimes. Tutors can try to make a community by allowing small discussions among the class so that the class is engaged in something.

Ask everyone to participate in the discussions as some shy students might feel left out if the other students take the stage for themselves. Empathize with every student and the problems they face while communicating or understanding a topic. 

The market is filled with teachers wanting to make their name and fame but there are very few who want to make a valiant effort for it. Engaging students is one of the interesting aspects of teaching online. All the brains are wired in different ways and you are playing the field with the innumerable permutations and combinations of strategies. And you might get confused in these web of strategies but do not give up. Reach us for help if you can’t find a way. We are here for you. Stay Home Stay Safe 🙂

Avinash Somjani is a contributor at utobo. He caught fire writing. A fearless curious cat with a flamboyant pen, he is currently pursuing his MBA(Marketing) at SIBM Bengaluru. He is passionate about sports, science fiction, history and the ever changing colour of his pen. E-mail : avisomjani901@gmail.com