With the advent of virtual classrooms, more and more teachers are asking how to make online classes more interactive and enjoyable.
Engaging your students during an online class is not easy but far from impossible.
One of the best ways to engage learners during an online class is by making your content interactive. With interactive online lessons, your students have no option but to get involved and take a more active and serious role.
Keep reading as I discuss how you can make your learning material more interactive and engaging.
Do you know your audience?
The first step to successful online teaching is to understand your students.
The students aren’t near you or other students. Instead, they are cooped up at home alone, with no one to turn to for help nor can they simply raise their hand to clarify a doubt. This leads to a feeling of isolation and it is up to you to provide the support they require.
And, while you can pick up on non-verbal cues of boredom or confusion at a physical class, you can’t do that during an online class.
You can still support them by anticipating and keeping this fact in mind when designing your next class.
Put yourself in your student’s shoes and see if you can make sense of what is on the screen. Attempt to envision how your students are experiencing your lesson and ask yourself if your instructions are clear. Do you need a graph? Will the slide benefit from an infographic? Can you spice up the mood with an appropriate meme?
Pro Tip: Canva is a great (and free!) option for making detailed infographics within a few minutes.
Try including online group sessions where you can interact with students and students can interact with each other. These sessions will encourage participation and help you set learning objectives and understand how each student is faring.
Make content that students can connect with emotionally
Your students will react more positively when the lesson includes something they can connect with emotionally. This could be a tiny but memorable moment during a complex lesson. This will in-turn make it easier for students to recall the concept later.
For instance, if your students are fans of football and you are an English teacher, you could incorporate commentary from notable football matches when explaining something like grammar concepts. Simple yet extremely effective!
Include graphical elements to your lessons
Scrolling through endless slides of block text can put just about anyone to sleep!
Including fun elements such as a GIF image, a meme (as long as it’s currently relevant!), or a short clip or quote from a movie can go a long way in spicing up your PowerPoint presentations.
For example, if you are explaining a chemistry lesson, a clipping from The Big Bang Theory may be a good inclusion to your lesson.
Games and flashcards help memorize concepts
Over the years, teachers have found great success by using flashcards as a tool to help students memorize and recall what they study. During online classes, you actually have a wider assortment of tools at hand to make useful flashboards.
There are free web-based apps that allow you to easily create and share flashcards such as Kahoot, Gimkit or Cram. You can add images, audio clips and more. If you want to be extra creative, play a memory game with every set of flashcards.
During online classes, you will need to have tests to monitor the performance and progress of your students. You can make this much more interesting by having quizzes in place of the tests. Your students do the test while having fun. Everybody wins!
Having quizzes on a weekly basis will ensure students are constantly revising and allow you to understand if anybody is falling behind.
You can find plenty of online tools to create interesting quizzes. Here is a list of the top suggestions.
Use rewards and scoreboards to motivate students
Everyone likes a reward for their hard work and students are no different. Rewarding your students for their hard work gives them the motivation to perform consistently and attempt to outdo their previous efforts. An evaluation every fortnight will keep students on their toes and drive friendly rivalry between classmates.
An online leader board of the best performers – top five maybe? – of the quiz can be a starting point. Leave the points visible during lectures. This will motivate all the students to really work on the quizzes and complete assignments by the stated deadline.
Share resources that may be useful
As a teacher, its important that you ensure students are reading up. You can do this by sharing links during lectures, allowing students to read the relevant paper or paragraph during the lecture. By reading it during the lecture, your students will not be able to postpone it for later and possibly forget about it completely.
Make life easier for you by compiling the list before class!
Tips on creating interesting content
There is no denying that plain paragraphs of text make learning a very boring experience but at the same time, creating interactive content is time-consuming for teachers.
The best tools you have at hand are Google’s wide suite of educational apps. The apps alone are enough to assist you during your online classes.
How to use Google’s apps:
- Use Google Drive to upload your lectures and easily share it with your class
- Use Google Hangouts to offer individual feedback and have private conversations with students regarding any issues they are facing
- Use Google Sheets to track attendance, daily progress and more
- Google Calendar is a fully-fledged tool to note important dates such as assignment deadlines. You can share this calendar with your students.
- Create a group chat for your class and discuss the week’s lessons and areas for improvement.
Online classrooms are probably the way to go, at least for the foreseeable future, and they offer an array of benefits for teachers as well as students. It is up to you, as the teacher, to make this experience an enjoyable one.