10 Ways to Engage Students in Remote Learning

Author: Tyler Cox


If you've ever stood in front of a room full of students to deliver a lecture, chances are you've had this experience: You look out over the room to see students participating in activities that have little to do with the subject at hand, including texting on their phones, posting to social media on their laptops, or secretly chatting with a student in the next row.


And if you've taught online, chances are that when the remote learning lesson is over and you've dismissed the students, several remain logged on and don't respond to your queries. What that likely means is that those students are either sitting in another room watching television, on another website being entertained by cat videos or are on their phones chatting with friends.


In both scenarios, student engagement has fallen by the wayside, and your carefully prepared remote lecture is falling on deaf ears.


What does it mean to keep students engaged? Student engagement is when students show up to class ready and excited to learn, stay active in the process, and participate in learning with a positive attitude. In simpler terms, they're not falling asleep in class. Increased student engagement is directly tied to student achievement. The more engaged students are, the better they'll retain the information presented.


Keeping students engaged in the classroom can be a challenge for educators in a face-to-face setting, and it can be even more challenging in a virtual environment. With that in mind, here are some strategies to improve student participation and keep them engaged during a remote learning session.


First, let's consider activities to engage students in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting:


1. Engage with your remote students' interests

Students aren't likely to resonate with your "when I was your age" examples, but they'll be happy to talk about the things they care about. Structure assignments to incorporate those things.


2. Give your remote learners a say

This may not be feasible all of the time, but solicit their input on classroom activities and assessment design. If students have a personal investment in the assignment, they'll stay more engaged.


3. Get them up and moving throughout the remote learning

Expecting students to sit quietly and listen to you drone on for an hour is unrealistic. Researchers peg the typical student's attention span at 10 to 15 minutes, but most classes last for at least 50 minutes. Take frequent breaks and encourage them to get up and move around.


4. Mix it up

Following the same pattern for every class is sure to create boredom. Incorporate a variety of remote learning activities to keep things interesting.


5. Ensure everyone can hear

Not being able to hear the instructor clearly is one of the chief reasons students become disengaged. Good audio is critical, especially if you're teaching in a large room. If you're in that situation, consider approaching school officials about investing in a classroom audio system.

Trying to achieve student engagement online can be even more difficult, complicated by the fact that you may be unable to see your students well enough to read their body language. Here are some examples of what works and why when it comes to student engagement in online learning.


6. Require remote students to keep their webcams on

That's the first rule for figuring out how to engage students online. You wouldn't teach a face-to-face class with a wall between you and your students. Don't let them erect a wall in a virtual setting.


7. Incorporate personalization

Many remote learning management systems offer the ability for students to add personal wikis that include images and video. Have students record short introductory videos that are visible to the rest of the class. You'll be amazed at how the tone of the class changes once everyone gets a chance to see and hear their colleagues.


8. Encourage two-way communication

Consider having a classroom Twitter feed or chat box running on the screen alongside your lecture. If students are getting bored, encourage them to speak up. Even having them post a running commentary critiquing your lecture can help keep them engaged.


9. Watch for student responses

Most collaboration software includes the capability for students to (virtually) raise their hand or use an emoji to express their opinion. Keep an eye out for questions and address them as they come up. If one student has a question, chances are others do as well.


10. Pay attention to technology


When it comes to delivering instruction online, the ability to be heard is critical, and poor audio will quickly turn students off. Make sure when delivering online instruction, you have the right tools to provide crystal-clear sound.


These strategies are just the starting point for fostering student engagement during remote learning, and there are a host of opportunities for teachers to develop their own. But no matter how you approach virtual student engagement, the right technological tools can help. Visit our Education Audio Solutions page to learn more about what Yamaha UC has to offer.