I get it.
You don’t want to be one of those online teachers stuck in the class of boredom – evident as none of your students show any interest in your online class.
You want your online classes to be engaging, fresh and fun. But instead,there is a pin drop silence in your class.
And you’ve got no idea how to make your online class interactive. You have tried almost every trick you could possibly find, but none of them works.
So, in this article, I scoured the internet in search of posts that felt new and exciting.
And, I have unearthed a handful of practical tactics you can use to make your online classes more engaging and grab your students’ attention.
1- Allow Your Students to Be Distracted
“Wait! Isn’t this post about grabbing students’ attention?” I hear your voice.
But, here is the thing. Students get distracted when your class rules are rigid. Tell them not to do something, they will do it.
So, instead be their friend who is both real and firm. Let them be distracted or take a break in between the class.
At the same time, establish the ground rules that can’t be broken like answering a poll or submitting the assignment.
Allow them to achieve your class goals however they want as long as the ground rules are met.
Because, guess what? When you give them their space and make them responsible for their actions, they will like you and will willingly participate in your class.
Related read:7 traits of highly effective online teachers
2- Use Visual Content
It’s a well-known fact that students learn best when they receive information in multiple modalities – through watching video clips, listening to songs and recordings, reading, drawing, or by touch.
Implementing videos is one of the best methods to get your students’ attention and introduce a new topic, idea, and concept.
This can be tutorials, DIY-videos, excerpts from a cartoon or movie that fit the subject, news segments, documentaries, instructional videos, etc.
Keep only the most telling parts of the video clip or movie, edit video content and delete unwanted parts of a clip, if needed. There are plenty of video editing tools available for teaching online – pick yours!
3- Start your class with an Argument or Provocation
Prepare a statement on the topic of the lesson that students will not agree with. Then invite them to give evidence to support it.
You can also select provocative materials that intrigue and raise questions. These can be photographs, sounds, quotes, images, cards, riddles, and so on.
These activities will stimulate interest, spark discussions, and develop a personal connection to the topic. Such engaging opening strategies will perfectly suit Literature, History, and Art classes.
Don’t be afraid to encourage questions and arguments from your students, as well. This shows that you’re open to feedback and willing to help them understand the material.
4- Start with an Overview
It’s hard for students to get involved in a new topic if they can’t make sense of it from the beginning.
Teachers make the mistake of jumping right into new concepts. Students need to be familiar with basic terms and facts in order to comprehend the new material.
A simple review of key vocabulary terms and concepts, a short discussion or a small test can show you what information students already know about the topic. Thus, you’ll be able to focus on the new content.
Here are some more creative and fun strategies to review information that can be used in a virtual class:
- Flash cards
- Student-generated questions
- Games – Jeopardy, bingo, Heads Up!
- Concept maps
- Short presentations
- Ungraded quizzes
5- Make Connections and Give Examples
Examples are a great way to illustrate new concepts and help students understand how they can be applied in real life.
When presenting material, be sure to include plenty of examples into the introduction and throughout your class that students can relate to. You can also provide sample problems or exercises for them to try on their own.
What else is important is that the new information should relate to students’ personal experiences.
Students absorb the content better when they see their background and culture reflected in the materials for teaching used in class.
When you plan your online classes or course outlines, check the materials and consider whether they reflect the diversity of your students, their interests and passions, stronger and weaker sides.
6- Explain the Lesson Plan and Structure
Another essential fact about a good class or course beginning that you need to take into account is that you need to state its detailed plan – understanding the structure is critical to keep students engaged and focused.
An easy way to maintain a clear and consistent structure throughout a lesson or course is to create an outline with all modules, assignments, tools, due dates, etc. This will help you identify topics and arrange them appropriately.
You can set up your own outline template or find some ready-made ones. There are plenty of interactive templates available that you can fill in with your students.
It’s a frequent mistake of teachers to present all the content at once and not divide it in steps or modules.
Lesson plans will prevent such a mistake. Material chunked into short and succinct modules is easier to perceive and remember. Make sure that the material is introduced in a logical way and that it flows smoothly from one concept to the next.
7- Be Clear and Concise
When you’re learning something for the first time, many of the facts and figures can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to be clear and concise when making an introduction. Try keeping your opening light and interesting. Throwing details and overloading your audience is likely to lead to confusion and frustration. You can always come back to those extra details once they have a basic knowledge of the concepts.
8- Use Up-To-Date Materials
If you’re wondering how to keep your students engaged, it is critical to make sure that your materials are up-to-date.
This means that you should avoid using outdated textbooks and materials. Instead, try to find the most recent papers, articles, and books on the subject.
Time to Breathe New Life Into Your Boring Online Classes
Start with a bang! Get students’ attention with an intriguing story, analogy, or real-world example.
Make it relevant. You might even need an online course platform to host and sell your course.
Connect the material to something they’re interested in or that they can relate to. Use multimedia. Incorporate videos, images, and audio into your presentation to add another layer of engagement.
Be consistent and clear. Keep things moving and mix up the pace with different types of activities. Get them involved. Ask questions, have them work in pairs or groups, or give them opportunities to share their thoughts and ideas.
By following these tips during your online teaching, you can be sure that your materials will be presented in the most effective way possible.
To teach is an important responsibility, and it’s one that you can fulfill with confidence when you have the right tools and strategies at your disposal.