After the onset of the global pandemic, classrooms everywhere were forced to be moved from the everyday school setting to at-home learning. This caused a wave of mixed reactions about how children would handle education in a new format. Some had to navigate a vastly different daily routine that was universally challenging — if they had access to remote learning.
Thankfully, growing platforms like Zoom have helped make the transition easier by offering students an interactive video-based format, communication tools, and continued support from teachers and peers through online learning. Despite these features, however, the ability to hold the interest of a large classroom of students through a full day of schooling can be a struggle for teachers.
If you're searching for creative ways to regain your students' attention and encourage long-term interaction in the digital classroom, there are helpful techniques to promote better participation. Read on to discover why learning online can be beneficial to students, and consider these three tips for increasing your students' engagement and socialization online.
Benefits of Online Learning
Though most children and young adults have to attend in-person schooling in westernized societies, not all students are equipped to handle such highly social, demanding environments. For this reason, the introduction to virtual classrooms during the pandemic allowed children to continue focusing on their studies. Still, they could enjoy the comfort and safety of their homes in the process.
Here are a few reasons why remote learning can be beneficial for students:
They aren't overwhelmed by other activities. Many kids are involved with extracurricular activities outside of the classroom when they attend regular school. Responsibilities like after-school sports and club meetings can overwhelm students and distract them from their studies over time, whereas remote learning only focuses on a student's grade-level curriculum.
Their anxiety levels may be reduced. In general, students can enjoy in-person socialization with their friends and teachers. However, extremely shy or anxious students aren't as comfortable with daily interaction with their peers. At-home learning can erase that tension.
They can learn at their own pace. The rigid structure of moving from class to class during the school day without significant breaks can be exhausting, which may be reflected in a student's schoolwork. Remote learning offers greater flexibility, allowing students to work at their speed and at certain times of day more suitable for each student.
Opportunities To Increase Online Engagement
With those benefits in mind, it can be worthwhile to stay the course with remote learning in the future. Here are three key opportunities for improving the online engagement of your students for more significant results:
1. Maximize Comfort & Privacy
Students can quickly feel more comfortable at home while maintaining their school sessions in a virtual learning space with the right tools. So why not give them a reason to feel more included by letting them choose their virtual settings and backgrounds?
A virtual classroom background or "scene" provides each child with a customized layout that speaks to their hobbies or interests. This also offers greater privacy by allowing students to hide their home bedroom or living space from the view of everyone in their class, which can make for a more comfortable environment.
2. Create Interactive Lessons
One of the most incredible concepts behind virtual platforms is sharing valuable features with all of the students involved, allowing everyone in the class to feel included and part of the conversation. For instance, the Zoom "screen share" feature will enable instructors to share their screens and offer students the chance to share their personalized screens for greater communication and learning opportunities.
Meanwhile, the "breakout rooms" option encourages teachers to divide a large class into smaller sub-groups for more detailed discussion or group projects. This may help your students feel more comfortable speaking up with their peers if there's a less overall audience while still providing interaction between peers.
3. Encourage Students To Interact With One Another
While breakout rooms could also help encourage more one-on-one interaction between students, there's always the possibility of gathering everyone together in "Immersive View" for a break from schoolwork with some entertaining virtual classroom games!
You can always plan classic games like scavenger hunts or word puzzles if you teach for an elementary school class. These require students to follow an instructional video before running to find items around their houses to bring into the game or to communicate with each other using weekly vocabulary words to complete interactive word puzzles for a special prize. For older middle-grade or high school-level students, you can even host a detective or mystery game where students have to find clues and report back findings in their personal breakout room groups.
However you choose to engage your students in the future better, these practical tips can help you keep your class's attention. They're bound to lead to greater enjoyment and educational fulfillment for everyone involved.