The audience’s engagement level determines your online course’s success. If levels of engagement are very low you will have to invest time and effort to improve your course. It is more productive to use your time and resources to produce an engaging course than to rearrange a course after it has been launched.
The involvement of students is so crucial in the online learning environment. No involvement means that students will not benefit from a course.
Interactivity is one tool that you can use to make your online courses more engaging. How to make online classes more interactive is the premise of this article. Consider 14 easy things you can do to make the learning process more effective.
Benefits of Interactive Online Classes
Most people don’t handle monotonous presentations very well. Most will let their minds wander or will even fall asleep! Determination to pay attention won’t save them.
On the other hand, most students feel much more inspired when they enter an interactive learning environment. An interactive learning experience puts the students at the center of the process.
Why are interactive approaches so effective in online education? Ruminate on the following reasons:
- Enhanced learning outcomes. Engaged students learn faster because they feel more involved. That involvement boosts their thinking levels to otherwise unexplored levels. Hence, they will learn new skills better and be more interested.
- Greater student involvement. Interactive learning stimulates higher-order thinking. Passive learning will not lead to this deep level of brain usage.
- Improved emotional connections. Interactive learning also engages students’ emotional faculties. It allows them to interact more with fellow students and teachers.
- Maintaining focus. In traditional passive learning environments, the mind starts to drift very quickly. Interactive games, polls, and discussions help students to maintain focus.
Tips on How to Make Online Classes More Interactive
Let People Choose What They Want to Discuss
Empowering students to choose a topic that appeals to them stimulates engagement. They will pick something that interests them and is relevant to their personal situation. Later, you can introduce recommendations or mandatory sections if needed. Yet, giving them the freedom to choose will engage them with your online course.
Combine Different Media Types
Nowadays students interact with graphs, 3D models, infographics, photos, and videos. Even though that is what they like, it doesn’t mean that they understand them. A nice tip is to add interactive elements to your visual aids. You can add links, notes, or recorded voice explanations. These can guide the students’ attention and highlight important points.
Check Students’ Progress More Often
Tests are very common in traditional classroom settings. It allows teachers to keep track of a student’s progress. You should do the same in online teaching environments. You can do this in two ways. First, you can give them a traditional test. Second, you can ask the class some challenging questions related to their studies, like a verbal exam.
You can engage online students even further by presenting them with online polls and quizzes. You can even reward the winner with a prize. But remember, the tests’ purpose is to evaluate the level of each student and who needs a bit more attention.
Invite Students to Contribute
Another active learning element is hosting online group study sessions. By giving them task-based assignments they will understand the practical value of what they learn. Most students find this tactic engaging and motivating to stay inspired throughout the course.
Give Homework Assignments
Homework sounds boring and annoying, but it does not have to be. You can provide exciting interactive online exercises. To engage students further you can encourage them to share their results with fellow students.
Assign exercises that create opportunities to have one-on-one conversations and track individual students. Conversations do not have to be face-to-face but can be through chats or comment sections.
Ask Questions During Online Classes
Online quizzes can be fun and engaging, but they can also be tedious and counterproductive. Be careful how you use them. The goal is to increase and reinforce knowledge and stimulate active learning.
There are several paid and free online quiz platforms. They are useful tools to assess students and check their memory. Many online course creation software solutions have a feature to add quizzes to your course materials.
There are different ways of asking questions, so there are different ways to answer them, such as
- Matching answers
Regular testing of progress increases knowledge retention. You should at least have a test at the halfway point and the end. Tests check for knowledge gaps and give variation to your course content, thus increasing engagement.
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Try Running a Cohort-Based Course
Maybe you have never heard of cohort-based learning. It means that a group goes through a syllabus together and graduates together at the end. Yet, it puts extra emphasis on teamwork and collaboration and less on the individual process. Students work together, check in on each other, and share ideas.
The benefits are that classes feel more direct and personal. The format encourages students to develop critical thinking skills about the material.
You need a virtual classroom, like Google, Hangouts, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams. Meeting often with your class is essential to make the cohort-based course format work.
Some have found a micro-learning approach very beneficial for their online courses. You divide your course into short sessions and attach a mini prize to each chunk. An example of this learning process is LinkedIn Learning. They add rewards and milestones to each stage.
You begin by taking your course materials and dividing them up into small chunks. Then, you can group these chunks by milestones. You can also add a test or quiz to each milestone. This active learning method rewards success and keeps students engaged.
Humans have always enjoyed telling and listening to stories. It can also make your online course more interesting. Besides, it makes your work as a teacher easier. Why not use this technique in your online teaching? It has many significant benefits:
- Aids in Retention. An interesting story breaks the classroom routine. Students can immerse themselves in the story, and it helps them to remember important points better.
- Improves listening. Online classes can be boring and many students struggle to stay focused. A story can help to refocus on the course. Listening is an important skill that they learn to develop at the same time.
- Instills values. Stories are often about humans and animals. Besides the point that relates to the class, students learn important life lessons.
Including stories will make your content delivery better. You can even consider including audio, video, or other animations. That will enhance the immersive experience even further and make the content more powerful.
How to make online classes more interactive and engaging—here is another suggestion. Motivate your class by letting them play games and rewarding them. The term gamification has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. By including games you engage, but you can also set and achieve goals. Students learning desires receive immediate gratification. They get points, badges, or high scores.
Rewarding serves to keep students engaged and motivated to do better. It keeps them on their toes and encourages some amicable competition. There are different ways to include games in your online course and make a bigger impact on your students’ learning experience.
Allow Your Students to Chat and Comment on Your Lessons
The most important interaction students can have is with their teacher. Keeping those lines of communication open, even during class, helps to increase student engagement. Let them ask questions, have discussions about the material, and give feedback.
Free communication during class also helps to build connections between students. Better connections lead to extra learning opportunities.
Even in a digital setting, there are various tools that allow for interaction. It may seem limited, but a chat feature can do a lot of good to get individuals out of isolation. Seeing that other students struggle with similar problems is an encouragement to continue.
The latest trend in adult online classroom settings is scenario-based learning. Scenario-based learning means that much of the learning is imparted through analyzing specific applications in context.
This could be in real-life scenarios. You can have one student play the role of a doctor, for example, and another one the one of a patient. As a teacher, you must guide them through the scene and provide useful feedback.
This method is very effective because it imitates real-life scenarios. When you can get them to participate, you have succeeded in making your online lessons interactive and more engaging. It requires you to come up with realistic scenes and practical content.
Use Different Forms of Communication
Online chats are instrumental communication channels. But there are many more tools to stay in touch with your students:
- Chatbots. You can use bots for repetitive conversations. They’re useful for providing standard information about the course and enrollment.
- Email. You can send specific information using email. Share additional course material, surveys, and success stories.
- Text Messages. This channel is great for last-minute announcements. It keeps students informed of their deadlines.
- Social Media. It makes you stand out as a teacher. It works well for sharing small bits of information and attracting new students.
Create and Nurture Your Course Community
An online classroom is a place where course participants get support and encouragement. Both teachers and fellow classmates are part of the process of building motivation.
Communication between students and teachers builds engagement, dedication, and morale. Teachers too benefit from this. Use these communities to hold discussions, engage new students, and share updates.
Concluding How to Make Online Classes More Interactive
Online classes are overwhelming sometimes, both for the teacher and for the students. But they are becoming more important in the world of education. There are ways that you can make them interactive and more engaging.
Active participation helps to enhance student engagement. You can do this by including interactive online learning elements. The 14 tips mentioned in this guide on how to make online classes more interactive will help you.
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