Keeping Student Engagement in Remote Learning

Nov 03, 2023
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Any teacher knows a class is full of some students who are comfortable using their voice and others who are more guarded. Virtual classes can make it more difficult to create a platform for a quieter student to contribute and allow for overall student engagement. 

Instead of falling into the trap of calling on a select few who you know will speak up or putting those who are shy at participation on the spot, try some of these tricks to engage some of your more reluctant remote learners.

Create a Safe Space for Student Engagement

Creating a safe space can help support students take risks. Since many of the above challenges are hard to control for, your approach to creating this safe space matters. 

It’s so important for students to learn to be confident in sharing their ideas. Shy students tend to watch interactions and assess if it is safe to share their ideas. 

Consider this when you think about your classroom dynamics. How do you handle wrong answers? Are learners muted to avoid ridicule if mistakes are made? How often do you remind your students that you’re looking for participation, not perfection?

If available, try utilizing the anonymous feature on your video conferencing platform for any questions, then ask students to identify themselves after the class for participation points. This will also allow you to open a dialog with students and help build their confidence in sharing in person.

Create Breakout Sessions

Breakout sessions in which you assign students to smaller groups are a safer way to encourage student engagement. When there is less competition between students to get their voices heard, the discussion can flow better. 

For students who might not be easily heard, smaller groups can help make them feel less intimidated than when speaking to all 30 or so of their classmates.

This is also a win for those cautious students because they’re able to test out their ideas and see how they are received before sharing them with a larger group. 

However, for some students, smaller groups might also increase their anxiety, so be attentive to how you break up groups and try to proactively build positive connections and have clear expectations.

Let Them Prepare

As stated earlier, try to avoid putting your shy students on the spot. If you can connect with your students who are less vocal ahead of time, learning from them what they see as the barriers to participating, this preparation can not only build lasting connection and trust but also can help you troubleshoot their successful engagement.

See if you can negotiate having them share an idea or thought at a specific time in the future. This can work kind of like a show-and-tell where all students get to have their certain day to start class with an idea or thought they have on what you’re currently learning. 

If you want a more in-depth opportunity, you can have each student schedule a time for a class presentation. Pair students with others in the class so that they can practice ahead of time. This way, they will have much more confidence.

With so many things to juggle through in virtual learning, ensuring student engagement for each one of your online students can be one of the bigger challenges. Building connections and learning about the emotions of your students can help increase academic engagement.

Stay up to date on the Edmentum blog to learn more about student engagement and general teacher tips.

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