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How to Maintain Student Engagement During Distance Learning

As millions of students and teachers begin using distance learning, one of the biggest challenges of being an educator is keeping students engaged. The topic of maintaining student engagement is more important than ever now.

Here are seven ways educators can increase student engagement during distance learning, or if you are interested in other options for student engagement, don’t forget to check out our education solution page!

In distance learning, it’s easy for students to fade away from the coursework and find distractions around the house, or just lose motivation without the support they need. As educators, it’s key that we create a learning environment that’s almost as if they were sitting in the classroom with a live teacher so students get the most out of distance learning.

Prepare Students for Online Learning

It’s important that as educators we understand the challenges with distance learning. For many students, especially in the K-12 range, this will be the first time they learn through a device instead of a live teacher. We should ease students into distance learning through a simple set of guidelines that teach them how to learn remotely.

These guidelines may include simple tips on how to remove distractions, setting up a home office or study room, and when to take a break. You can deliver them by recording a video for students to watch, or by writing a simple blog post. Ensure your distance learning guidelines are bulleted and actionable. I.e:. Turn off social media during learning hours.

Use Face-To-Face Interaction via Webcam

In distance learning, students should feel as if the teacher is right there with them. Webcam applications such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype can make it easy to engage with students face-to-face. Seeing your student’s facial expressions and communicating by voice goes a long way into keeping engagement levels up.

Just as you would vary the tone of your voice in the classroom to stir a student’s emotions, webcam interaction lets you do the same. Use them to deliver your lessons and watch engagement levels go up.

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Build A Learning Community

Studies have shown that students who are part of a learning community are five times more engaged. If students are over age 13, set up a Facebook group for them to share notes, ask questions, and keep each other accountable for assignments and projects.

As the moderator of the group, you’ll be able to detect student engagement levels based on the number of posts and questions being asked in the community. This gives you a powerful tool for course-correcting your teaching methods if engagement levels go down. It also lets you interact with your students as many young learners do with their friends.

Manage Resources in The Cloud

Keeping lessons, assignments, and projects on the cloud lets you effortlessly manage your teaching resources from any connected device. Use cloud platforms like Google Drive and DropBox to drag-and-drop files, set access permissions, receive uploaded projects, and distribute documents.

Educators can seamlessly integrate these cloud platforms with teaching devices, such as the MyViewBoard digital whiteboard. This helps to prevent lessons from being bogged down with a tangle of files stored in different locations and harddrives.

Make Learning Active

Just because classes are taught online, it doesn’t mean young learners have to be sitting in front of the monitor all the time.

Create coursework that gets them on their feet. This could be done through assignments like interviewing other members of the household, having them go to the backyard to collect specimen samples, or using traditional learning tools like a pencil and paper to sketch and diagram. With a smartphone camera, students can easily submit these assignments online and share them with the learning community.

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Give Useful Feedback Frequently

Keep students engaged by letting them know how they’re doing, and often. Through frequent communication, you can remind students that they are being held accountable for their assignments. You can get an idea of a student’s problems or progress so there won’t be any surprises come exam time. Students will also have more chances to ask questions and engage with you.

Make Distance Learning Fun

This might be the single most important way to keep student engagement up. Like a bitter pill inside a brownie, educators can “trick” students into learning by making lessons fun.

Host learning games, give badges for fast learners, and keep engagement up by keeping distance learning fun and light.  Digital whiteboards like the MyViewBoard are great for adding online fun to the virtual classroom.

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As we enter a new era of both remote work, and now distance learning, there are new opportunities to keep students even more engaged. Educators can do so by mixing traditional teaching methods with emerging education tools and technology.  The result is a rich learning environment that keeps young and adult distance learners on their toes.

If you have a young learner, and are a parent, don’t forget to check out 8 tips for parents during distance learning to help maintain engagement. Or check out our education solutions page for more information.