Three Strategies to Increase Student Engagement Through Video in Online Courses

Oct 19, 2023
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Video is a cornerstone of online education, and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. There are so many ways to connect with students virtually, but connecting with students via video seems to be one of the most effective ways to engage students in their learning and build rapport.

As a virtual teacher for EdOptions Academy, I’ve seen that high student engagement and building relationships through video increases success in our courses and in the student’s online education as a whole. Here are some tips to take your video lessons to the next level.

1. Go Green with a Green Screen

Don’t underestimate the power of a professional-looking background. Just as you wouldn’t have your students enter your traditional classroom with bare walls and bulletin boards, you don’t want your students coming into your virtual classroom and seeing your breakfast dishes in the background. Set the tone for your virtual classroom from the very beginning of a session with a becoming backdrop.

If you don’t have the space for a green screen, there are a couple of alternatives. ChromaCam is a Windows desktop app that allows you to use a virtual background without a green screen. Further, if you’re one of the lucky few whose computer processor is powerful enough, you can use a virtual background in Zoom without the use of a green screen.

2. Warm Up Your Audience

We virtual teachers often feel that our time is so limited that we must hurry to present the content. After all, students’ attention spans are short, right? While this is true, don’t underestimate the incredible value of spending the first five or so minutes of a live session warming up your audience through fun icebreakers or get-to-know-you activities.

Consider warm-up time an investment that will pay off during the rest of your session and even in future interactions with those students. These activities allow students time to get comfortable with not only the teacher but also the other students in the session. Once students are comfortable, they are more apt to share and engage, not only with the content but also with their session mates. Once that happens, our sessions become rich in the collaborative learning we are aiming for.

3. Become a Narrator

We all know that today's students are stimulated throughout their day with various technology that is readily available to them at the touch of a screen. As teachers, our methods have to adjust to not only grab but also keep their attention. Gone are the days when we could copy class notes to a slide and lecture our way through them. When we do this, all the students see is a “talking head.”

We have to engage our students with images, graphics, videos, and even music when appropriate. Become a narrator in your sessions. Show the students an image, sketch, process, or chart on the screen and narrate them through it. Change your mindset from lecturing about your lesson topic to narrating about the image on the screen.

These examples are small tweaks in teaching through video that make a big difference in student engagement, which ultimately, make a significant difference in student learning. When in doubt, keep it simple; set the tone for learning, and whatever you do, don’t be a “talking head.”

Interested in learning more about the power of relationships in virtual courses? Check out this blog post where one EdOptions Academy student shares his story. And don't forget to check out Edmentum's free Hybrid & Virtual Learning Success Kit for downloables, best practices, and more!

This post was originally published November 2019 and has been updated.

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