Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom

Written by April Willis

June 30, 2021

The demand for online learning is constantly growing. An essential part of a teacher’s job is to make sure their class is both productive and engaged in the topics being learned and that the students retain essential knowledge taught by the teacher.

  • Discussion pages
  • Threaded discussions
  • Chat rooms
  • Group pages
  • Kahoot
  • Packback

The above methods and applications are just a few examples of strategies which enhance the educational quality of online learning. When students are at a high level of engagement, the class as a whole benefits.

A high level of engagement in the classroom is proven to positively correlate with:

  • Greater student satisfaction
  • More wholesome student interactions
  • Higher average grades
  • Increased knowledge retention
  • A more successful classroom environment overall

These factors are all essential to successfully being a virtual educator. Without engagement and participation, a virtual class will quickly become unproductive and stop functioning effectively. It will become a place of boredom and students will lose the drive to learn and retain knowledge for the class.

To keep a class engaged, a virtual teacher should utilize several different types of media, applications, and methods when instructing the class. With variety comes higher levels of student interest.

For example, in classroom A, Dr. Weibley plays videos for the class every day. While some students may find this interesting a few times, constant use of one method (in this case, videos) will create boredom and disinterest amongst the students and eventually the level of engagement will sink to a critically low level.

Rather than utilizing a single method for learning, as did Dr. Weibley, we will demonstrate another class which has a more varied and differentiated course schedule that keeps students at a high level of participation and engagement; which is demonstrated in classroom B, shown below.

In classroom B, Mr. Morgan teaches his students using a variety of techniques including discussion groups, Kahoots, group activities, videos, and games. Classroom B will be a more successful learning environment because students generally enjoy variety and a certain degree of variance within the classroom.

Utilizing multiple strategies to keep students engaged helps to reinforce knowledge retention and keeps students happy and more stimulated than using one or very few strategies.

Here is a short list of three ways proven to help increase student participation:

  • Create interactive lectures
    • Interactive lectures keep students engaged on their toes. Rather than listening to the teacher “regurgitate information” from a PowerPoint or other presentation method, students are more inclined to fully engage in the lecture when it is something that they can participate in.
  • Allow for anonymous questioning
    • Students often feel uneasy admitting they have difficulty in understanding certain concepts and will be reluctant to bring their confusions forward in front of the class as a whole. Allow students to pose questions anonymously which you can cover once more with the whole class without risk of a student feeling too embarrassed or shy to speak up.
  • Break up / buffer lectures
    • Long lectures can be frustrating to students. Halfway through the lecture it is a good idea to break it up with a group discussion or some other kind of interactive activity to engage the students so they do not lose attention to the lecture. This ensures that students stay both focused and increases participation within the classroom.

When teaching a virtual class, participation is paramount to the success of many students. An online learning environment which lacks too many aspects of traditional in-person learning becomes something that students find difficult and boring. Ensuring social needs are met and class engagement is at a satisfactory level makes both the students and the teacher feel they are in a familiar and enjoyable environment that fosters both knowledge growth and class satisfaction.

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