How do you actively and creatively engage your students in the online platform?
As educators, you already do a phenomenal job in your classroom engaging students, but it does look a little bit different in the virtual setting. Dr. Kristin Bledsoe, associate director of the online Doctor of Education program at Trevecca, is excited to share three tips to continue to engage your students online.
The first tip I want to share with you comes in the form of communication. Communication and engaging students are going to look different for teachers at different levels. Therefore, it's important that you know yourself and your strengths, but also that you know your students. Often online classes can look like a lot of words on a page, and sometimes that's necessary, but there are times where you can take it to the next level. And for me, that comes in the form of images and graphics, which really help draw the eye to the screen. Think about how to connect the content to the reader. Photos, graphics and videos are a great way to do that.
Next, don’t be afraid to have a little fun! My husband is a seventh and eighth grade math teacher. While teaching math to his students through distance education, he filmed himself teaching dressed as different fun characters. And to seventh and eighth graders, that was probably one of the coolest things he could have done. For older students, something I’ve done is putting them into groups with fun names, like the Bulls, Warriors, Celtics and Lakers, trying to tie in those team concepts with sports.
And then lastly, for this communication piece, if you use email heavily for your students, find a way to spice it up a little bit. Something I do often is record a video of myself going over the email content and include the link in the email. So even though it’s a written email, I've tried to make it where they can be engaged with videos as well as words, because everyone learns a little bit differently.
I feel that in order to actively and creatively engage students in online learning, you have to find effective ways to communicate. It will look different for each of you but think about your students. And for tip number two, provide fun and creative learning opportunities. Look for ways to spice up your everyday activities to be more than just words on a screen. Think about my husband's example of Black Panther, he was able to take math to at least a relatable level, get a little chuckle, but also teach a concept. So find those connections.
Make learning social. Your students want to talk! So provide them an opportunity! Give them a buddy or put them in a chat room where they can talk to each other. You can even group them together and give them conversation starters, depending on your level of your students. There are lots of platforms out there where you can set up groups, like Microsoft Teams and Slack.
I hope you keep these tips and tricks in mind as you continue on this virtual journey.