How do I engage students online or in a hybrid enviroment?

The same principles of teaching and learning apply in online courses as in a regular face-to-face course; however, your content and activities need to reflect that your students are together in a virtual environment and not a classroom.

Try to provide authentic learning tasks for your students. Don't just provide them with fluff work to gain something for assessment purposes. Students will not put their best work into these type of activities and will likely not engage with a meaningless activity but will simply do what needs to be done. As you the instructor are not there at all times to motivate and clarify, it is important that your learning tasks provide motivation to students.

Keep your students awake and focused. If students lose focus during an in class lecture, then a good rule to follow is that their focus strays more quickly in an online enviroment. Lectures can be given online in a synchronous or asynchronous setting. But keep in mind that listening to a lecture online can become tedious quickly, and any videos being put up should not exceed 10 minutes in length. You may have multiple videos that need to viewing, but the chunking of the information can make it more manageable for the students. This is an excellent way to move the lecture into the digital age, and flip a portion of your classroom. If you engage students using a synchronous technology such as Web Ex or Adobe Connect, you gain those just in time moments that your students often grasp for when clarifying something they have learned. However, lectures in this type of setting should still be kept shorter (20 minutes), and should involve a fair amount of discussion.

Don't forget to engage the students by asking for their input or their thinking. You would field questions from students when teaching in the classroom; why not in an online environment? Try using discussion forums and feedback tools to help gather evidence of student learning.

Provide ways for students to interact with each other online to discuss the class content. Interaction opportunities can help surface any misconceptions held by students and contribute to creating a discussion point rather than just addressing the issue with feedback after the course summative assessments are complete.

Online polling can be an excellent way to get students more involved with the material. As the class progresses through different materials, try getting students involved by having them answer questions before an online discussion. Have them answer the same questions or similar questions after the discussion. Have students compare their answers and discuss why they have changed.

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