Online courses and learning modules are ideal for busy people with busy lives – at least in theory. However, in order to get the most out of their learning experience, online learners need to be engaged so that the information sticks and can be applied in practical scenarios. Without engagement, students may do well in a class but be less likely to remember the material and be able to use it in a real-life context – whether it’s a college course or employee training.
It’s a big challenge for instructors today to find ways to engage online students who attend a class remotely through videoconferencing. Although there are many technologies to assist instructors with creating lesson plans and materials, it’s still necessary to think strategically when it comes to engagement. Stay on top of these five methods to make your lessons more engaging for online learners.
Keep Your Content Relevant
Even if outdated information is new to students, it can often be glaringly obvious. Modern students are highly attuned to what’s new and relevant, so even if they’re taking an advanced course, they will catch on quickly whether material is current. When choosing the content for your course, make sure that it’s relevant and reflects the current views and facts on the topic. Use realistic examples and consistently update your course materials to keep your students’ attention.
Organize Materials Logically
An online course, even more than a face-to-face course, needs to be well-organized – both for you as the instructor and for students. There’s a higher risk of confusion in online courses, and the last thing you want is for students to feel lost. Present each module or chapter in a logical, coherent fashion with font and graphics that neither distract nor deter learning. When presenting to students, make sure your screen and desktop are free from clutter and you only bring up materials that are needed at the time.
Use Content Chunking
Recent research has demonstrated that employees with online learning opportunities would be more likely to take advantage of those opportunities if the lessons were short. The idea of breaking up lengthy lessons into smaller pieces is called “chunking,” and it plays to the short attention spans of your audience. Reading and understanding information is faster and easier when it is “chunked” and more likely to be recalled later.
Make it Interactive
Getting online learners to apply the information they’ve (hopefully) absorbed is essential to making them successful in the course. Interactive components added to a course can achieve this when designed well. Interaction can be in the form of group collaborations via video conference or video learning features that require students to answer questions about what they’ve learned. These activities can serve as checkpoints to make sure students are getting the information they need.
Enable Mobile Access
The majority of online learners are likely using some sort of mobile device in their daily lives. Instructors best serve students when they provide mobile access to course materials and videoconferencing capabilities. This makes it easier for them to access assignments and lesson modules as well as attend virtual class. Making a course mobile-friendly is worth the effort to make the course available to students wherever they are.