Maintaining student engagement can be hard enough in face-to-face learning environments. Now that we have had a semester remote, you may have noticed that keeping students engaged in an online environment requires much more thought and preparation. This semester you may want to consider casting a wider net than previous when it comes to providing engaging, meaningful lessons and learning experiences. You will quickly notice how students become exhausted of discussion boards and Zoom breakout rooms, as many instructors will rely heavily on these tools. By no means are we discouraging these tools and activities, however we do suggest considering different approaches to keep students engaged.
Provide students options when completing papers and projects. These options allow for students to construct an understanding that resonates with their interests. Alternate learning opportunities that align with the same learning objectives will provide students a sense of control in their choice-making in a time where much of our sense of control is non-existant.
Facilitate the Construction of Meaning
Clearly state your learning objectives and how they align with the instructional content. Doing so sets the purpose for instruction and provides you an opportunity to connect content to real-life skills and situations.
Make sure you align an appropriate amount of rigor to the assignments given to students. Identifying the learning objectives for a session or module can assist you in developing appropriate-level learning activities. Using Bloom's Taxonomy or Bloom's Digital Taxonomy can ensure that these things align appropriately. These resources will also provide you with strategies in providing students with various types of activities to show content mastery. It's important to bear in mind that when objectives and cognitive challenge do not align students can become frustrated and disengaged.
Student collaboration provides opportunities to learn from each other, but in a remote environment, it also provides students with interaction with their peers they may not be getting regularly. Due to inconsistencies of the technology students may have access to, time zone differences, etc. group work can prove to be quite the challenge, but it's still important to provide these opportunities for student engagement. Consider using a variety of strategies that allow students to engage with each other and complete group projects through different technologies. Implement peer reviews as another way for students to receive feedback, taking some of the stress off of you.