Australian zookeeper Steve Irwin said, “I believe that educations is all about being excited about something.” Most teachers will agree that student engagement is paramount in order to have a productive learning experience. Much too often, especially in India, elders blame students for being unwilling or unable to learn while being totally oblivious of the possibility, that the manner of teaching is simply not engaging enough for the student to be interested. One definition of student engagement is when “students make a psychological investment in learning.
They take pride not simply in earning the formal indicators of success (grades), but in understanding the material and incorporating or internalizing it in their lives.” Ever since the pandemic struck our country, the teaching sector had to go through a complete overhaul. The classrooms were replaced by online teaching apps. Online teaching generally has a radically different style of student-teacher interaction. Though, the benefits and necessity of online teaching apps have encouraged a progressively large number of educators to teach online, some key challenges of traditional teaching equally concerning even though we as a country, shift our focus to teach online on these online teaching apps.
Before starting out on your journey to teach online, it might prove to be of immense value to your online teaching experience, to look at some of the well-researched ways in which student engagement can be increased while teaching on online teaching apps-
1. Structural Influences
For students on online teaching apps, structural influences such as course design greatly impact their learning experiences. The teacher must provide a well-designed course that promotes interaction and social presence and creates a clear, purposeful learning journey; efficient use of students’ limited time; links learning activities to goals; builds on existing understanding whilst addressing gaps in understandings; provides immersive, real-world simulations or experiences. There are some good online teaching apps developed with this purpose that help an online teacher in creating engaging, interactive courses with little effort. You should seek the help of technology wherever necessary to help you in teaching online.
2. Psychosocial influences
Student engagement on online teaching apps is affected by a number of co-related psychosocial influences such as teaching support, motivation, skills, and self-efficacy. Teaching support plays a critical role in online teaching, with teacher engagement and connection having a positive effect on online student retention. Effective online teachers support their students through timely, proactive, embedded support which establishes their personal presence and actively engages students through synchronous and asynchronous methods. An online teacher must look for a live teaching app that provides them with features like real-time, two-way communication with students to increase teacher engagement.
Good online teaching apps provide built-in whiteboards. This instructional feature provides an option for collaboration. Students can view and annotate right on the board. Once the chapter has been completed, you can save the whiteboard (as a pdf or an image) for later reference and also can share it with your students. This also eases the worry of students for retention which affects their focus on the present lesson being taught during the class.
4. Frequent Feedback
An online teacher should regularly seek anonymous and honest feedback from his students and closely examine their criticisms if any. He should constantly try to improve his communication skills and keep himself updated on new ways to teach online to become more successful in teaching online.
5. Develop a learning community
Research has found that when an online teaching course included an online community component, students were five times more engaged and 16 times more likely to finish the course. Engagement increases remarkably when students feel like they ‘belong’ or are ‘part-of-something-greater-than themselves’ with like-minded people.
6. Get students to apply what they learned
Richard Feynman was a pioneer of teaching and learning. He explained the method of learning something effectively was to learn to apply it after reading. Therefore, a teacher must help the student to cross the knowing-doing bridge with the help of interactive questionnaires and assignments. An individual looking to become successful at online teaching should seek an online teaching app that helps him in disseminating useful study material and interactive assignments and tests among his students to help them learn more proactively which invariably leads to higher retention.
We observe that there are a number of useful ways in which student engagement can be significantly improved in online teaching. There are some great online teaching apps in India, some free of cost, which have been developed to aid an online teacher in his journey towards achieving a highly engaging, dynamic, and effective online teaching routine.