How do we keep our students actively engaged in a remote learning environment? Four months into this COVID-era academic year and this question still lingers for higher education administrators and faculty.
The answer to student engagement lies in creating a quality learning environment. One that goes beyond simply considering which course materials to use, but instead takes a holistic approach to instructing, guiding and mentoring students throughout their entire academic journey. This means faculty need better options to help translate their face-to-face student interactions to an online space and institutions need to scale these new digital interactions so they’re accessible to all and provide a smooth, positive user experience across courses and programs.
"This way faculty can focus on what they do, and that's forming relationships with their students, sharing content expertise that they have with students, and really helping their students be more successful in those courses," says Justin Dammeier, Executive Director of Education Technology at Ivy Technical Community College.
So how can higher education leaders and faculty go about creating these quality learning environments online to maintain student engagement? Here are four considerations to get started:
1. Think interactive—beyond Zoom
While the use of Zoom and other video conferencing services have worked to bridge the gap in the absence of face-to-face classes, students are still only staring at a screen and are more prone to distractions. To keep students actively engaged and learning beyond streamed lectures and classroom discussions, institutions need to consider other interactive learning experiences. Think learning or homework platforms that include videos, interactive tutorials, assessments and automatic grading to help students remain engaged learners in and out of class.
2. Create consistent experiences across courses
Students report that one of their main frustrations with remote learning is the inconsistency across their courses from different online learning tools and faculty approaches. Implementing consistent practices and platforms institution-wide, such as centralized course material libraries or access to the same set of learning applications, can help alleviate both student and faculty stress and keep the focus on quality classroom learning.
3. Support the WHOLE student
Beyond providing quality course materials, institutions should seek to engage students throughout their entire academic journey. Offering student and career success resources to help them manage their lives as students - especially remote students - such as one-on-one tutoring, mentorship and self-guided activities about how to best learn online, will help create engaged learners now and in the future.
4. Ensure accessibility institution-wide
Making sure student resources are affordable and accessible on day one is a cornerstone of quality learning. And with the shift to online, now more than ever, students need to be able to access all their learning materials whenever and wherever needed. So, whether that's providing one central location for resources, access to materials across various mediums (print, online or mobile) or ensuring ADA compliance, institutions can help ensure their students are set up for success with all the quality resources they need at their fingertips.
To learn more about implementing engaging and effective learning across your institution, visit cengage.com/institutions/remote-learning.