The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for everyone, and educators are no exception. Colleges, schools, and universities were closed because it was no longer safe for students to attend classes.
The only way to continue education in our world of the “new normal” is to teach and learn online. Teachers now need to work with students remotely, and it can be a difficult task, since educators have to choose new approaches and learn new skills.
Effective education to a large extent depends on your ability to keep students engaged. Obviously, this becomes one of the main challenges because students are not physically present in the classroom. Besides, they are surrounded by various sources of distraction so teachers need to put their best effort into keeping their students focused, engaged, and motivated.
Some teachers say that it’s much harder to keep your students engaged online than when working in the traditional classroom. The truth is that traditional and online classrooms require educators to approach the process differently.
Online education offers a lot of flexibility and many opportunities to use interactive tools. In this article, we’ve collected some proven tips that will help you make online lessons more fun and interesting.
1. Take Advantage of Technology
Although online education involves certain challenges, it also gives you many opportunities that you didn’t have before. You can use a variety of tools, including screen-sharing tools, discussion boards, drawing tools, virtual games, and pointers, to make your lessons more comprehensive, engaging, and informative.
The main thing is to know how to use the necessary tools properly. We also recommend that you explain how they work to students because they should also feel confident with these tools. Determine your goals first, and then select tools that will help you modify your online lessons accordingly.
2. Break Down Your Lessons Into Digestible Parts
The success of your lessons and the ability to keep students engaged largely depend on timing. Timing is one of the most important aspects of online education, and you may realize that you need to adjust the timing of your lessons to the online format. Online communication is all about speed and efficiency so you may want to break down your lessons into digestible chunks.
The best way to make your lessons easier to digest is to avoid unnecessary and too lengthy explanations. You should also make sure that your slides don’t contain too much text. A good approach is to include more slides with less text. Besides, you can change the pace of your lessons by combining different types of activities.
3. Present Yourself in the Best Way Possible
Teachers should always properly present themselves in the classroom, no matter whether it’s real or virtual. Students respect teachers who are confident and well-organized.
First of all, make sure that you have a decent camera and check your look before starting a lesson. We also recommend that you consider not only your look but also the room that will serve as a background of your lesson. If you use videos or slides, they should also be of good quality.
Given that you communicate with the students online, you should also make sure that they hear you clearly. We recommend that you practice and listen to how you sound when speaking into the microphone. Change the tone of your voice to make lessons less boring. Obviously, you should also make sure that you have a stable internet connection.
4. Adapt in-Class Activities to the Online Format
When teaching students in person, teachers usually give them some time to reflect on the material quietly. Students may read a text or work alone. Unfortunately, such activities don’t work well when teaching students online. First, lengthy texts may not be easy to read from a screen. Secondly, students will be more likely to get distracted.
We recommend that you choose activities that involve active typing, talking, or clicking so that students will stay focused on the lesson. Ask more questions, play various games, and make sure that students perform some physical activities, whether it be typing in a dialogue box or drawing on a virtual board.
5. Set Clear Goals and Stick to Them
We also suggest that you set clear goals and remind your students of their progress so that they can stay on track. A great way to set short-term goals is to start every lesson with a brief outline so that your students can better understand the context of the lesson and their short-term objectives.
You can also reward students that finish certain tasks or work hard during your lessons. You can reward students with points, badges, and positive feedback. When students clearly understand the purpose of each lesson, they can stay well-focused and motivated.
6. Make Your Lessons Fun
Although virtual lessons are quite different from the traditional ones, they also have something in common. In both cases, you should motivate your students and give them some reasons to stay engaged. When teaching students online, you may realize that some methods that helped you to keep students engaged in a physical classroom still work in a virtual classroom, as well.
For instance, you can make lessons more fun by playing music, simply chatting with students, or using various interactive tools. Your students may also share their ideas with you so that you can incorporate activities that they like in lessons.
7. Make Your Students Feel Valued
Many students might feel demotivated because of isolation. They may think that no one cares about whether or not they complete their assignments or log in to the virtual classroom at all. You can address this problem by making your students feel valued.
Always call your students by their names and establish a personal connection. Follow up on the materials of the previous lesson so that your students will see that they also need to keep up with the curriculum. Learn more about your students’ interests and incorporate them into your online lessons.
8. Be Patient
Last but not least, you should understand that keeping students engaged is not an easy task so you must be patient. Keep in mind that young kids have very short attention spans so it’s difficult for them to stay focused and engaged all the time. We suggest that you let them take a break from time to time. If something doesn’t work out, don’t get frustrated or annoyed because your students will immediately notice it.
Although many teachers are still getting used to the online format of lessons, the truth is that online education isn’t as difficult as it seems. In fact, it gives teachers many opportunities to engage with students in new ways.
Besides, you can adapt some of the traditional classroom activities to the online setting. We hope that our tips will help you make your online lessons more fun, effective, and interesting. If you’re interested in teaching English online, you’ll need a TEFL certification. Check out our pick for the best online TEFL course for 2020.
About the Author:
Rhonda Martinez is an English teacher and essay writer. She is also a published author in multiple literary journals and magazines. When not working, Rhonda enjoys investing time in self-improvement and finding new, effective ways of teaching. You can follow her on Twitter to learn more about her work.
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