Top Ways For Engaging & Motivating Students In Distance Learning


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Distance learning offers a lot of flexibility and authority over learning to students. However, it also comes with its sets of challenges.

Like it or not, the pandemic led to online education for all learners, and even students who never used technology for their education are now familiar with technology in and for education. 

Engaging students in distance learning can be challenging for educators, and likewise, staying motivated through online classes may be a little difficult for students. Having things in order and changing the routine of online classes can help a lot.

Here are a few tips and ways for teachers to engage and motivate students in distance learning.

Set Goals and Monitor Progress

Goal setting and monitoring progress are great ways to keep students motivated and help them push their limits when they feel stuck. This planning and monitoring act as motivators as they impact the value of the task at hand and success expectation. A few ways teachers can effectively implement goal settings and progress monitoring are:

  • Talk to students about their goals, have transparency about your students’ expectations from you, and convey your expectations to students. Having structured plans beforehand can help students achieve them with clarity in mind. Having conversations with students about their goals will also help them develop ownership of their learning goals and motivate them to achieve them. 
  • Ensure you have the required infrastructure to monitor progress. You can use digital tools to track and monitor students’ performance and progress. This will also help you analyse students’ profiles, strengths and weaknesses at the same time. 
  • Make sure that the goals are reasonable. Different Small term goals can help students with their long term goals. Alongside academics, you can help students target specific skills they want to learn. Also, this will keep students aware of their performance, and they’ll strive to achieve their goals. As an educator, make sure the goals students set are realistic and something they can achieve. 
  • Students can get stuck or face other issues they cannot handle and fail in achieving their goals. In these times, you must help them stay motivated so they don’t quit. Make a plan for how to help students when they get stuck will help them work towards their goal even when they struggle. 

Different Needs Require Different Solutions

Every student has a different need and learning style; this calls for the personalisation of instruction methods to ensure they’re engaged in learning. The real-life classroom provides a richness of the classroom environment and required educational opportunities. However, the case differs in online classrooms as many components lack that can be a hurdle for effective learning for some students. You can ensure that students are getting equal opportunity by being flexible with your teaching methods. Use a variety of resources for content that’d fit all learners. Please make sure students get their learning material in the audio, visual and textual format, so that learns can pick the style that best fits their preference and stay engaged and interested thoroughly. Holding live discussions, allowing students to comprehend their learning through the medium they engage in, and seeking feedback from students and using it for online teaching can largely help students stay engaged and motivated in distance learning. 

Introduce Quizzes & Challenges 

It’s always a fun idea to lighten up the environment and engage while learning. Consider adding the elements of Challenges and quizzes in your online classes. They are great to keep students motivated for the lesson and recapping the lessons from the last class. 

Starting with a small quiz on the previous day’s lesson or Spontaneous quizzes can help keep students motivated. Maybe you can make the quiz a little competitive to push students’ attentiveness during classes by announcing a winner at the end of a unit and having a price for the winner or maintain a point system for the month to announce monthly leaders. This will make online learning fun and engaging for all students. 

Encourage Collaboration

You may not see your online students, but you can still have the opportunity to make them a part of the class and engage them with their peers to create a fun, collaborative learning environment. Collaboration is that one important component of classroom learning that students miss in distance learning. Also, it is a vital skill that can be developed through class discussions, group projects or team-building exercises. Collaboration is possible in an online environment with the use of the right tools and strategies. Assigning group projects and assignments can ensure students collaboration. Teachers can form groups and assign group projects to ensure students learn and work towards a common goal. Another way to collaborate in distance learning is by conducting live debate sessions while dividing all students into multiple teams. Conduct live debate sessions and divide students into pairs or teams. Also, Students are more likely to stay engaged and motivated when required to work together. 

Use Real-Life Examples to Add Value to Their Education

Providing meaning to studies for students can help them with their learning. This adds value to what they’re doing. To enhance the value of learning for them, you can add real-life examples. This helps them in understanding the ultimate meaning of the studies and stay motivated. Students need to feel that what they’re doing given the capacity to succeed in real life as well, and their education is relevant to their educational, professional and personal growth. And the best part is, you can find a real-life example even for the most theatrical subjects. 

Celebrate and Reward Success

Celebrating small goal achievements and celebrating the little success can help students at large. You can appreciate and bring forward the star performers of your class. Perhaps, give them some time off a live discussion to take over the class and make them feel like a leader in reality. Or use a point system towards their grade as a reward for their success. Apart from academic performance and success, consider celebrating all types of learning behaviours you want to see more in class and not just focus on academic achievement. 

Provide an Open, Accessible Environment For Students

Students and teachers may find it challenging to develop a good relationship with each other compared to those in offline classes. Since you don’t get to see your students, you must make them feel like a part of the class and assure them that they can reach out to you if needed. Using easy chat options and creating virtual office hours can help. Fix a time slot when you can address your students’ doubts and issues to assure them they can reach out to you for any assistance. Being flexible as an educator is crucial to developing an excellent teacher-student relationship. Try to create a positive and open atmosphere where you can make yourself available to help students with their academic doubts and discuss the real-life concerns that may be demotivating them. Students need to feel that their educators care about them and if you think academics aren’t the only reason for their lack of interest and engagement in class, be open to having a chat and discussing their problems. 

What other tips would you suggest for engaging and motivating students in distance learning? Please share with us in the comments section below.  

About the Author

Author: Priyanka Gupta

Priyanka is a blogger by profession and has an increasing interest to write about the edtech space. While writing she keeps in mind the educators to come up with right resources and ideas which might be relevant for them in relation to effective use of technology in their profession and institutions/classrooms. Twitter Profile LinkedIn Profile

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