In a traditional classroom setting, you can identify when a student is emotionally invested in material based on the quality of their work or their appetite to find out more about the subject. It is also very apparent when a student is disengaged. When a student removes themselves from the virtual setting emotionally, the signs aren’t as easy to see. How do you work through this?
- Use available tools to monitor engagement. There are great technology tools available (many for free) that can help you easily share materials and collaborate with learners. These tools also make it easy to see who’s participating and who might be struggling, allowing for quick intervention to get engagement back on track. There are a few of our favorites.
- Flipgrid: A simple, free, and accessible video discussion experience for PreK to Ph.D educators, learners, and families. Create discussion topics to share, and learners record and share short videos with you and your class.
- Google Slides: Create, edit, collaborate, and present wherever you are — from your phone, tablet, or computer.
- Voicethread: A natural online interaction where students present and defend their work before educators and peers.
- Practice formative assessment effectively (as one does in the physical classroom). Try building survey time into the instruction session or use low stake quizzes or polls. Students can share emojis or gifs or answer questions in the chat, or you can use survey software. Students can also stand up/sit down or sing or act out their answers to encourage active and engaged learning. Determining what students know while they’re still in the process of learning allows you to better meet individual needs, and it shows your students that you care how your teaching is impacting them.
- Create shared documents to provide feedback and build connections between you and your students.
- Ask a check-in and checkout question for the day.
- Have students choose a picture or meme that best represents how they are feeling to monitor their feelings.
- Provide opportunities to amplify the fun of learning.
- Use gamification and competitions that allow students to earn points or gather virtual collectibles.
- Assign a positive meme of the day for each active engagement session or portion of virtual instruction/engagement.
- Deliver clear and specific directions. Providing clear and specific directions are a must in the physical classroom, and they become even more important in the virtual classroom. Specify things like expectations for involvement, time frames, and reporting requirements for assignments and group work.
Engaging in a shared virtual space where learning and instruction take place can be challenging. But we hope these strategies and resources are helpful as you navigate this school year. Next week, we’ll take a closer look at diversity in the classroom and how it might impact learner engagement.