Six Essential Strategies to Keep Students Engaged in Class

Are your students highly engaged in class, motivated, and performing to the best of their abilities? In a perfect classroom environment, every student would be engaged in the course, interested in the subjects, and performing to the very best of their capabilities. That’s what every educator hopes for when they start teaching a class.

The reality for most classes is that while some students may be highly engaged and self-motivated, other students will base their involvement upon what is experienced in the classroom and whether or not their expectations are being met. While addressing student engagement can be challenging for traditional classroom educators, it can be even more difficult for online educators who cannot see their students or meet with them for a scheduled class time.

At the start of a new online class educators typically find that students are involved in the class with mixed feelings of excitement, apprehension, and uncertainty. From the perspective of a student, remaining motivated and engaged in the class requires substantial effort. While many students are self-directed in nature, and have an ability to sustain their involvement, there are often others who lack self-motivation and begin to disengage over time. As many educators realize, by the time a student disengages from class it is often too late to get them back on track.

A challenge for instructors is that online class facilitation can take a significant amount of time. With a busy schedule it is natural to focus on contractual obligations and classroom management, and not notice a student who is slowly disengaging from the class until they are completely absent or have withdrawn. It becomes important then to take a proactive approach with online students and establish an instructional approach for helping them to stay focused and engaged in the class.

Defining the Concept of Student Engagement

When educators define the nature of student engagement it is usually done from a tangible (what is seen) perspective and this can be a subjective assessment. For example, if a student is posting participation online messages most every day of the week you might say they are highly engaged. The question is how active does a student have to be to meet these criteria? If they are posting messages on five days is that the same level of engagement as a student who is posting on six days? As a general guideline it can be assessed by how invested students appear to be in their class. This includes their involvement in discussions, asking questions, submitting assignments on time, and how responsive they are to other students and their instructor. If a student is going to be considered highly engaged in class, an instructor needs to observe several visual cues.

Why Does Student Engagement Matter?

Engagement matters because it indicates that students are involved in the class. When students are fully engaged, a distance education class begins to feel like a community. If students are not actively involved in their class, especially an online class, they can easily disengage, lose interest, and eventually withdraw. If the instructor doesn’t intervene, these students may drop the course and a continual pattern like this may also lead to disengagement from their degree program. Visual cues are important then because they are indicators of how involved students are in the process of learning. These cues include qualities such as their level of effort, along with their responsiveness to feedback, communication, and coaching.

Discover How to Measure Student Engagement

When visual cues are interpreted it is often done in a subjective manner, looking at more than a student’s tangible work product or written papers. The purpose of measuring engagement in the class is to raise an educator’s conscious awareness of students and keep track of their involvement. It is easy to become so busy managing class operations and discussions that students who are not present end up being overlooked when they are not actively present. For those instructors who are detail minded they can create a spreadsheet and track the progress of their students. Some learning management systems provide analytics that allow an instructor to check on the progress of students in the course. The purpose of doing this is to pay attention to your students and how they are progressing.

To assist educators with the process of prompting students’ engagement in class I have developed a model called ENGAGE.

Examine class conditions as it can be conducive to or discourage active involvement. For example, do you post announcements that include a preview or wrap-up of the subjects or concepts for the week? Do you provide additional resources? Do you provide several methods of contact so that students can easily reach you? All of these strategies can help to create conditions that are conducive to learning.

Notice students’ involvement and pay attention to their activities. If you wait until you provide feedback to determine who is active and who isn’t, that may be too late to intervene. If there are features built into the learning management system which allow you to track students and their access to the course, this can help you identify students who are disengaging. You can also check who has completed the learning activities by the due date and develop a list of students who are past due.

Gauge the expected level of activity for an average student to establish a standard. As an instructor you develop a feel for the online class over time. You have a general idea of how much activity in the online class is indicative of an actively engaged student. Take that knowledge to help you develop a basic model and checklist that you can use, either mentally or in written form, to help monitor how your students are progressing.

Assess students and look for visual cues as you monitor their progress. As you monitor the progress of your students, and you consider how active they are based upon your expectations of their involvement, also consider how well they are performing. For example, a student can check in with the class on occasion by posting a brief discussion response and still not be substantively involved. A student who seems to be just getting by is someone who requires your time and attention.

Gain students’ attention through some form of communication such as an email or a phone call if it appears they are not present or if they are disengaging from the class. It is important with an online class that you are proactively contacting your students any time you notice that they are struggling, not performing well, or they are not posting substantive contributions to the class discussions.

If you have developed a positive working relationship with your students, they may likely respond when you contact them by email. If you haven’t been able to establish that connection, a phone call could be a helpful approach to reach out and establish your willingness to assist them. One of the primary challenges for making phone calls is finding a time that both the instructor and their students are available, especially if they are in different time zones.

Engage in the class as students will follow your lead. As a faculty director, I have observed many online classes with students who were not actively engaged and it was a reflection of the level of engagement of their instructors. Students often develop a perception that their instructor doesn’t seem to care about the class if they do not appear to be actively present. However, even if an instructor is highly visible and engaged it doesn’t guarantee that students will also respond with that same level of involvement. What an active presence does is to encourage them to be engaged and involved.

Always Be Engaged in Your Class

For instructors, being highly engaged in an online class requires proactive effort and involvement. It is possible to catch struggling students before they are disengaged; however, it can be challenging because keeping track of students does take time. If you are allocating only enough time to complete the required facilitation tasks, you may find that isn’t adequate for taking time to contact students and conduct outreach.

One of the first steps you can take is to develop a standard of acceptable engagement for an average student. By developing this standard, you can observe patterns and reach out to your students as needed. Overall, it is necessary to establish a plan for conscious awareness of your students if you want to keep them involved. Student engagement in an online class is related to their involvement in the learning process, their retention in a degree program, and it is a contributing factor to their overall success.

As an instructor, you have a direct impact on how your students perform. Take the lead, show them how to be highly engaged, and demonstrate that you care when they are starting to disengage. It may take more of your time, but teaching and nurturing the development of your students will require time and effort on your part. While you may not see the immediate outcome of your efforts, if a student remains engaged in the course, you will have had a direct impact on their lifelong learning experience and this is likely why you became an educator to begin with – to make a positive contribution towards the academic growth and development of your students.

Globalization and Education

In this paper I am going to look at the effect globalization has on education whether it is positive or negative. The paper will look at how globalization has given educators the ability to expand their teaching and the learning experience. One of the sources is a follow-up on a conference at Harvard held by many faculty experts in various fields. The article should provide some good insight as to whether or not globalization has proven to be beneficial toward educators and the education they are providing. Globalization is a process in which economies, cultures, and societies have combined through a global network of trade and communication. While the term is more often used in economic settings, globalization has aided in the advancement of society as a whole. Globalization is not a new idea, and when used in its economic connotation, it refers to the removal of trade barriers amongst nations to improve and increase the flow of goods across the world. But in this article, we are going to look at the implications of globalization on education and the educators themselves.

The way globalization has influenced trade barriers and communications among countries has in turn habituated the way educators educate. Corporations have targeted schools and colleges and have turned to them in order to help with expansion. Courses and programs were restructured in order to increase the marketing for programs such as MBAs and distance learning courses. A distance learning course is an online based course that has helped people who may already be working or those who need to stay at home achieve a degree. As a result the cost for students to attend universities has gone up as well, leading to a change in the way loans and grants are distributed and in what quantity. The perception people have on the current economy is playing a major impact in globalization effect on education. Regardless of the higher costs, students are still finding it necessary to stay in school and get as much accreditation as they can before entering the job market. It’s projected that in the next few years enrollment numbers will continue to rise significantly due to the belief that not having a degree in today’s economy is detrimental to success.

The restricted courses are allowing students to prepare for particular jobs as opposed to giving them a general education on a subject. This is described as being a “managerial-based” teaching strategy where students are not only taught the concepts needed for their degree, but in leadership as well. This is something to hardly be opposed too, but the increase in direct costs for students is cause for concern among some people. Some people are looking at this relationship between globalization and education and defining it as a technique the government is using to unitize education across the world. Some people feel the government is doing so because of pressure from “greater powers” to increase the educational well-being of students without receiving any opposition to the changes. The increasing understanding is that globalization is being reflected in an educational agenda that allows for various, and countless, improvements upon the education system that allows the educators themselves to expand on their teaching, and present students with real world situations that require them to “think outside the box”, or outside the realm of their particular field, if you will.

In conclusion, globalization seems to be, overall, a pretty beneficial movement in terms of education, although there are still several obstacles in its way. Harvard economist David Bloom has said that the world’s economies have thrived in globalization, as they all share a deep commitment to the education of young people. But he goes on to say that while these nations have gone on to use globalization to increase their educational prosperity, globalization has further distributed more “wealth to the wealthy” and fewer benefits to the poor. It was suggested at the same Harvard conference that education for pre-college students be more informing as well, and those students should know before going in that, for example, “the state of India’s economy, could very well affect their ability to receive and maintain a job once graduated”. The whole idea is very intriguing, and should continue to be monitored closely as globalization’s impact on education will likely be major, just as it has been for many other aspects of society.

Connecting Children With Mentors All Over the World

Distance learning has come in so as to provide lots of opportunities for children all over the world so as to build a great foundation for the future. This is achieved by engaging in educational activities carried out by qualified volunteer mentors online.

In the developing countries, there is a great shortage of teachers and it is important to handle this shortage. Estimates in some areas are quite alarming.

How it works

Distance teaching involves the use of technology that allows the children to access Information with great ease. It is a well thought process and there are many students benefiting from all over the world.

Mobile learning is sometimes referred to as m-learning. This is a system that offers support by the use of middle devices. It offers a continuous kind of access to the whole learning process. This kind of learning can be accessed through different gadgets such as tablets, laptops or even phones. One can learn, regardless of where they are or even while they are on the go.

The entry of mobile learning has led to the change in education systems. M-learning is quickly shaping education systems, especially in the developing world.

M-learning in education

Many schools are embracing the changes and benefits that are brought about by mobile learning. Many schools have introduced the use of tablets and laptops in the school systems; this is because children often consider such things to be a lot of fun. More and more educational apps have entered the market so as to assist the teachers and the children as well. This has in turn made it quite easy to access up to date material for everyday learning. The extra materials being made available means a lot, especially in the developing countries.

Examples of mobile learning

Providing materials

This is a very easy way of using mobile learning. Texts, audios and videos are easy to share using the different platforms or apps. You can access such materials quite easily when you have the right technology. Participants can in fact prepare homework and so on after watching what has been set up online. If we take this aspect, then mobile learning doesn’t seem to be too interactive. This is sometimes necessary if one is to get the full impact of what they are teaching.

Interacting during lessons

There is a need to leverage the technology so as to give access to all children all around the world. Most of the organizations offering distance teaching and mobile learning have created a portal where the volunteers can get in touch with the students through online media and mentor them. This helps with the sharing of knowledge, ignition of curiosity and dissemination of skills.

Volunteer mentoring

Education and knowledge are the main basics when it comes to economic opportunity. When children are allowed to access the basic education and at a young age, it becomes easier to achieve the success of the country since the future leaders are created. Volunteer mentoring augmented with school activities can bring about great rewards.

How Will Super-Fast Internet Affect Online Education In The Future?

The internet is one of the most reliable sources of information and these days it is not only used for research but also for many things like business and education. With the advent of technology, our lives have changed dramatically. The internet, for one, has totally changed the educational system of our country.

Long ago education can only be attained by attending classes in a classroom-setting. However, with internet and a mobile device one can now enjoy the hassle-free online educational programs being offered by prestigious schools and educational institutions. The influence of the internet has made man’s life more comfortable and easier that obtaining an education is possible even for those individuals who are bus managing their business and for busy moms at home.

The old cliché that “there is nothing permanent here on earth but constant change” is definitely true and even our mode of education and communication has constantly changed over the past years. Long ago, our source of information was by means of letters, telegrams and word-of-mouth. But now we can access all sorts of information within just a matter of seconds. All it takes is a fast internet connection and a mobile device. The biggest change that our country has experienced with the presence of internet is how education can be obtained. The traditional method of teaching- where professors and students can see each other face to face to send and receive information is now replaced with videos and reading materials that can be easily accessed online.

However, despite the fact that online education is becoming popular in this generation there are still people who aren’t familiar with the online education aspects. So, how does the speed of internet affect online education? How can students take advantage of online learning? Some people argue that the quality of education of our country is slowly depreciating and this has worsen now that we have the distance learning in existence. Is it really true that distance learning is a trash?

Many questions continue to haunt people as we go forward to the generation where internet is constantly evolving but many people, especially those who have tried online education, can say that the information being offered by distance learning is as timely and concise as the ones being offered in traditional schools.

In the future, I believe the a fast internet connection will greatly benefit those who are investing into online education.

The Advantages of eLearning

Technology has revolutionized business; now it must revolutionize learning.

In the 21st century, people have to learn more than ever before. Especially for global organizations, live classroom-based training is becoming too costly and cumbersome. Even if employees had the time to attend all the courses and seminars and to read all the books and reports they should to remain up-to-date in their area of work, the cost of such learning would be prohibitive. The need to transform how organizations learn points to a more modern, efficient, and flexible alternative: eLearning. The mission of corporate eLearning is to supply the workforce with an up-to-date and cost-effective program that yields motivated, skilled, and loyal knowledge workers.

Anywhere, anytime, anyone.

The Internet can offer the logical solution for a company’s education and training objectives. Approximately 80% of the professional workforce already uses computers on the job. Technical obstacles, such as access, standards, infrastructure, and bandwidth, will not be an issue in a few years. The growth of the World Wide Web, high-capacity corporate networks, and high-speed desktop computers will make learning available to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week around the globe. This will enable businesses to distribute training and critical information to multiple locations easily and conveniently. Employees can then access training when it is convenient for them, at home or in the office.

Substantial cost savings due to elimination of travel expenses.

When delivered through technology based solutions, training is less expensive per end user due to scalable distribution and the elimination of high salaries for trainers and consultants. The biggest benefit of eLearning, however, is that it eliminates the expense and inconvenience of getting the instructor and students in the same place. According to Training Magazine, corporations save between 50-70% when replacing instructor-led training with electronic content delivery. Opting for eLearning also means that courses can be pared into shorter sessions and spread out over several days or weeks so that the business would not lose an employee for entire days at a time. Workers can also improve productivity and use their own time more efficiently, as they no longer need to travel or fight rush-hour traffic to get to a class.

Just-in-time access to timely information.

Web-based products allow instructors to update lessons and materials across the entire network instantly. This keeps content fresh and consistent and gives students immediate access to the most current data. Information can be retrieved just before it is required, rather than being learned once in a classroom and subsequently forgotten. Training Magazine reported that technology-based training has proven to have a 50-60% better consistency of learning than traditional classroom learning (c-learning).

Higher retention of content through personalized learning.

Technology-based solutions allow more room for individual differences in learning styles. They also provide a high level of simulation that can be tailored to the learner’s level of proficiency. With 24 x 7 access, people can learn at their own pace and review course material as often as needed. Since they can customize the learning material to their own needs, students have more control over their learning process and can better understand the material, leading to a 60% faster learning curve, compared to instructor-led training. The delivery of content in smaller units, called “chunks,” contributes further to a more lasting learning effect. Whereas the average content retention rate for an instructor-led class is only 58%, the more intensive eLearning experience enhances the retention rate by 25 – 60%.1 Higher retention of the material puts a higher value on every dollar spent on training.

Improved collaboration and interactivity among students.

In times when small instructor-led classes tend to be the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative. Teaching and communication techniques which create an interactive online environment include case studies, story-telling, demonstrations, role-playing, simulations, streamed videos, online references, personalized coaching and mentoring, discussion groups, project teams, chat rooms, e-mail, bulletin boards, tips, tutorials, FAQs, and wizards.

Distance education can be more stimulating and encourage more critical reasoning than a traditional large instructor-led class because it allows the kind of interaction that takes place most fully in small group settings. Studies have shown that students who take online courses are typically drawn into the subject matter of the class more deeply than in a traditional course because of the discussions they get involved in.2 This engagement is further facilitated by the fact that instructors do not monopolize attention in an online environment. Another study found that online students had more peer contact with others in the class, enjoyed it more, spent more time on class work, understood the material better, and performed, on average, 20% better than students who were taught in the traditional classroom.

Online training is less intimidating than instructor-led courses.

Students taking an online course enter a risk-free environment in which they can try new things and make mistakes without exposing themselves. This characteristic is particularly valuable when trying to learn soft skills, such as leadership and decision making. A good learning program shows the consequences of students’ actions and here/why they went wrong. After a failure, students can go back and try again. This type of learning experience eliminates the embarrassment of failure in front of a group.

With all of these advantages of taking classes online, it is hard to imagine why anyone would opt to sit in a lecture to learn new information. There are online classes available free on a multitude of topics, just start surfing, find one to your liking, and start learning!

ENDNOTES

1 Jack E. Bowsher, “Revolutionizing Workforce Performance: A Systems Approach to Mastery,” 1998; D. Peoples, Presentations Plus, 1992; Training Magazine, 1998.

2 Greg Kearsley, A Guide to Online Education, 1997; Dennis A. Trinkle, “Distance Education: a Means to an End, No More, No Less,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1999; Colin McCormack and David Jones, “Building a Web-based Education System,” 1997.