One of the biggest challenges for teachers across the ages has been to keep the students in the classroom engaged and attentive to the content that is being taught.
Over the years, innovative and enterprising teachers have come up with unique ideas to help the students connect with the subject. From introducing games to the students to including video to make the topics more relatable to the students and to boost engagement rate between student and teacher
In recent times, the introduction of technology in the classroom has helped enrich and enhance the pedagogical process. Tools such as Interactive Whiteboards, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Video and Game based learning among many others have transformed the new-age classroom and made learning more interesting than ever before.
Learning in the Age of COVOD-19
Today, the world is changing once more as work-from-home and learn-from home is the new mandate in almost every part of the world. In this scenario, schools have adopted virtual classrooms as the new norm and educators are making every valiant effort to keep educating kids as best as they can.
While these online classes, ensure that the education of the students in not interrupted, teachers do not have any prior training programs for virtual or remote teaching. As a result, many teachers continue to replicate what they do in a classroom, but they are not always successful as they struggle with disengaged and demotivated students.
To engage with students in a virtual classroom, it is important to shift the way of thinking and learn to adapt to newer methods.
Let’s see what are the new ways to keep student engaged in Virtual Classroom:
1. Prepare in Advance
Just like a traditional classroom, a virtual classroom also needs the teachers and the students to be prepared in advance. A useful tip will be for the teachers to create a list of all the things the students need and then to send out the list to all the parents so that they can prep the learners with all the resources. These can include books, texts, stationary etc.
For teachers too, they can test out their slides with the font sizes, colours, template designs and screen ratios to ensure on- screen readability. This preparation can also include an audio clarity test.
2. Set the rules at the beginning
Just like the teachers, the students too are not familiar with the concept of a virtual classroom and hence teachers can start every morning with familiarising the students with the rules of a virtual classroom. These rules can include guidelines on mike, camera, chat etiquette for the students to follow.
3. Create a reward system for the students
One simple way to engage the learners in the virtual classroom is to introduce short-term and long-term goals and rewards into your online classroom. Rewards such as positive feedback, virtual points, badges can go a long way in reinforcing the learnings and motivating the student to engage better in the classroom
4. Questions, questions and more questions
In an attempt to keep the students more engaged, it is important that the teacher ask as many questions to the students as possible. Instead of just reading or explaining the lesson to the students, questions allow the lesson to be more interactive and hence keeps the students engaged. Teachers can ask the five W and H questions related to the lesson – What, Who, Why, Where, When and How.
The teacher must also encourage more questions from the students to augment the engagement levels in the virtual classroom. Many experts also suggest that teachers can keep a count of the number of questions each student asks, to ensure that all the students are engaged and attentive.
5. Keep the class short and lessons crisp
Learning online is a huge task, especially for younger students who may find it daunting to sit before the screen for long hours. By splitting content into smaller more manageable bite-sized chunks, educators can help to keep students to stay engaged and feel enthusiastic about the virtual learning experience. This is also a good way to abate online learning fatigue.
6. Continuous progress check-ins
One of the easiest ways to remind students of the previous lessons and help them feel connected to the class is through short-term progress checks. These can include revision, assignments or quick quizzes on previous topics to jog the student’s memories and help them connect the dots between the classes/
7. Building a student teacher bond
Just as some students do not connect in a traditional, physical classroom because they feel invisible and believe that they have no valuable inputs, similarly many students may also feel that they will not be missed in the virtual one. Additionally, some students do not find their teachers very engaging or are unable to relate with them. For such students, teachers can try building a relationship, getting to know them though a video or voice call outside of the classroom to help them feel motivated.
Other small tips can include asking the student for their opinion in the classroom, giving positive and encouraging feedback etc.
8. Use the flipped classroom model to engage the students
Using the flipped classroom model, teachers can send students resources such as texts, videos, podcasts, etc., to provide background knowledge to the topic being learnt.
The actual learning time in the virtual classroom can then be used for subsequent learning activities like group or one-on-one discussions. This will ensure that the precious time in the classroom is used to strengthen the understanding of the concepts, while the students stay interested and motivated.
For many students as well as for teachers this adaptation from a traditional classroom to a virtual meeting space for learning is not easy.
Today, teachers need to remember that the need of the hour is for unlearning their processes and teaching method and look for new ways in which they can harness technology to teach better and made a stronger impact on their students, who are also struggling in isolation without their peers.
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