Trying to find ways to improve learner engagement in synchronous sessions? Plenty of resources are available to help you maximize meaningful interaction in a digital learning space (see Online Teaching + Learning), but Boland and Major (2021) keep it simple focusing on the human element of online learning:
This serves as a check to ensure audio and video are working, and provides a few minutes before the start of class for personal interaction.
Don’t jump straight into a lecture. Start with an activity or short problem that encourages learners to share their thoughts in chat and ignite active learning.
Break up a lecture with periodic knowledge checks, polls, or other activities that encourages student participation throughout the session.
Use a single strategy throughout the semester. For example, have them share their answers in chat at the same time so that everyone’s answers are their own. Discussions of sensitive topics can be done using tools such as Padlet to allow for anonymity.
Do you want learners to raise their hand, ask in chat, or use another strategy? A general Padlet page could be used for anonymous questions. Let them know from the start of the semester.
Think about the nature of the activity and ensure breakout numbers facilitate that activity. Try to keep breakout rooms to no larger than five learners.
Make sure you have a specific learning goal and let learners know your expectations. Give learners time warnings to ensure they can wrap up their thoughts before sharing with the larger class.
Pauses in lectures allows learners to process information. Stay positive if met with silence after posing a question, and give your learners the space and time to consider the question and formulate responses.
You may record lectures by default so that learners who missed a session are able to catch up. Be mindful if you have learners in different countries – consider alternative ways of capturing a lecture if sensitive topics or topics censored in different regions are going to be discussed.
The original article is published in The Teaching Professor. The Teaching Professor is a subscription-based collection of resources designed with the goal of improving the quality of post-secondary teaching and learning.
Boland, L. M., & Major, C. H. (2021, January 11) Simple tips for engaging students in Zoom. The Teaching Professor. https://www.teachingprofessor.com/topics/online-learning/teaching-strategies-techniques/simple-tips-for-engaging-students-in-zoom/