The best way to engage students in online classes

09 April, 2020 Education Judy rose
Student on a computer


The best ways to engage students in online classes

Unlike teaching in a classroom face to face where you can rely on your physical energy to motivate and engage even the most indifferent of students, when teaching online you have to employ some different tactics. This blog will give you a run-down of some tried and tested tips to engage and motivate your students of all ages.

Be authentic, energetic and positive

Your body language, facial expressions and voice will dictate the energy of the class. If you seem like you are bored or not fully engaged, then you can’t expect your students to be. It’s really important to keep your energy levels up and try to find genuine interest in what you are teaching.

Using a variety of materials

Powerpoint presentations, web pages, video, audio, games…. These are just some of the materials that you can rely on to engage your students. One helpful tip is to have PDF’s or online activities pre-loaded before class, because if you have a slow/old computer it can take a while for them to load while you’re on camera. There are many websites that offer interactive worksheets allowing the students to engage more in the specific task you are doing. Course books also come with access to online materials and resources, if you haven’t incorporated these into your classes before then teaching online is a great opportunity to do so.

Have plan B activities from the book or for the interactive whiteboard, in case internet pages don’t load during class

While technology is great, sometimes it does fail us. Make sure to have some plan b activities from the book or for the interactive whiteboard in case internet pages don’t load during class.

Use the applications to the best of their ability

Make sure that you learn all the things that the application you are using can do. Different platforms give you different tools and learning how to use the varying features will greatly benefit your lessons and your students’ engagement and motivation.

Practice using new technology with friends or colleagues. For example, the interactive whiteboard, break out rooms, etc.

Practice makes perfect, some of the best advice to make sure that you keep your students engaged and motivated when teaching online is to check that you know how everything works beforehand. There is nothing worse than having students waiting for you to give some instructions of start a task because what you had planned can’t come to fruition because you don’t know how something works.

Try not to have ‘dead air time’

Students in skype call

You need to make sure that you have lots of activities up your sleeve so that you don’t run out of things to do. This can of course happen from time to time and we might have all experienced this in

the physical classroom but it seems so much worse in the virtual one. Without that physical connection to the students

Get your students to do the work and make the classes student- centred

Students don’t want to hear a lecture about the English language. Most schools use a form of the communicative method, this methodology shouldn’t change just because your classroom has. This is one the fundamentals of teaching engaging and effective English language classes and what your students expect. You can still use TBLT, the lexical approach and discovery grammar.

For kids (and adult) classes try to wear bright coloured clothes that look fun which helps keep their attention

This is especially for kids but trying to wear something colourful can help keep their attention and more engaged. Young learners have a short attention span and respond better to bright colours, so this is something to keep in mind when getting ready for the day ahead.

Final advice

Two people working together

Teaching online has given us the opportunity to develop our skills as educators allowed us to stay connected with our students, even when not in a classroom. While there are benefits to teaching face to face, you can still have meaningful and interactive classes with your students from behind a computer screen.

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