Online learning has opened many new avenues for learners and subject matter experts. At any given time, there is a plethora of resources available online for any subject that you may wish to gain expertise on. If you are already an expert, no matter how niche the subject, you’ll find an audience for your craft somewhere in the world.
As great as the premise of online learning sounds, there is a key issue learners struggle with: Engagement. With an overload of information coming to us through our screens, it can be challenging to stay focused. Screen fatigue is real and is the primary reason why online learners struggle to focus.
This calls for a change in the way online courses are designed and delivered. Here are some useful tips for instructors who want their learners to get the most out of their courses without getting overwhelmed:
1.Add Variety to Your Instruction
It is important to recognize that students may have different approaches to learning. Some prefer written content, such as notes or slides which they can refer to when needed. Others learn better with the help of visual or audio aids. It is to the benefit of your learners if you adopt a variety of modes of learning, and allow them to choose the way they want to learn.
Another way to incorporate an element of variety is by including multiple assessment formats. Formats such as quizzes or group assignments can appear to be less intimidating than more traditional assessment tools. This allows learners to take assessments with greater confidence. Quick pop-up quizzes also help them understand concepts quicker by leveraging microlearning techniques.
2.Incorporate Interactive Elements
In online learning, the engagement levels of in-person classrooms can be challenging to replicate but that’s not to say that it is impossible. In fact, ed-tech innovations can allow interactivity among learners in ways that are unique to eLearning.
Gamified learning environments can capture students’ attention in an immediate and effective way. Many gamified modules require student input and active participation. On top of that, encouraging students to compete for levels or points on a leaderboard can motivate them to perform better.
Another way to encourage interactivity is via live sessions where instructors give learners their undivided attention to answer questions or encourage discussions. This offers a welcome respite from pre-recorded videos and voiceovers.
3.Build a Community
Social learning is an important aspect of any learning activity and its importance in eLearning cannot be emphasized enough. To prevent students from feeling isolated, online courses must come with discussion forums that allow students to get in touch with their peers as well as the instructor.
Group assignments and peer review are also a part of social learning. By strengthening their online community, learners have the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, exchange feedback and form new connections.
4.Give Your Learners Autonomy
There is nothing better than handing students the reins to their own learning. If students get to have a say in the way they learn, the engagement levels that follow are pretty self-explanatory.
Personalized learning allows students to dictate their own learning paths. Students can choose which modules to take by assessing their own learning needs. They can also choose to skip certain parts of the course if those aspects don’t align with their learning needs.
Added flexibility in the form of blended learning adds another layer of customization for the learners. With a blend of synchronous and asynchronous modules, students can dictate their own pace and complete modules when they are ready.
5.Set Goals and Share Feedback
It’s important for learners to be aware of what they aim to take away from any learning intervention. Setting SMART learning objectives ensures that students know the measurable, time-bound outcomes they can expect to achieve from the course. This can help them focus on the subject matter with more clarity.
Not to mention, it is imperative that instructors share regular feedback with students to give them an idea about where they stand in terms of achieving their objectives. Oftentimes, feedback can help give learners the additional push they need to focus. Regular communication with instructors can also offer them reassurance that they are approaching the subject material in a constructive way.
The Bottom Line
Ensuring learners’ active participation and retention is much more difficult to do if they are geographically isolated and only available online. Often, efforts to engage learners can yield mixed results. But don’t let this deter you!
The kind of audience and subject matter play a huge part in the success of your efforts. Keep trying to incorporate new techniques to boost engagement until something sticks. And don’t get complacent if things are working out! Keep an eye out for new technologies in ed-tech and keep reinventing!
About the Author:
Edly is an Ed-Tech solution provider and an Open edX partner. We craft intelligently engineered Open edX-powered Learning Management Systems designed around our learners’ needs.