Teachers with online classes face particular challenges with student engagement.
In addition to helping students engage with the course elements, online teachers are charged with developing course material, assisting students in using technology, involving students in conversation, tracking student development, inspiring perseverance, and offering timely and thorough feedback (Roddy, Amiet, Chung, Holt, Shaw, McKenzie, Garivaldis, Lodge, & Mundy, 2017; Thistoll & Yates, 2016). Online learning itself puts a great deal of pressure upon students and teachers alike. What can teachers do to help online learners who are not engaged?
How to spot a disengaged online student
Disengaged students are easy to spot. Students may have their heads down, not taking notes, or look bored and indifferent to the learning process. Of course, in online learning, you can’t see the students, so how do you know when they are disengaged?
- Students rarely enter the course room.
- Very little time is spent on course activities.
- Interaction with other students is sparse.
- Assignments are missing or delayed.
- Discussion posts are short.
You have identified students who are not interested in your online course. Remember that disengaged students may feel isolated and unable to seek help. They may be unwilling to take charge of their education.
- Connect with students at the beginning of the course, often and early. Let students know that you are available by phone, email, or other modes of communication.
- Assign activities requiring collaboration that can build student partnerships which keep students involved and are necessary to learning.
- Recall the many tools available to students through the online services that the college/university provides. Provide links to these services in your online classroom. Don’t assume that a student will search the college or university website for services.
- Reflect on what has helped keep students engaged and what you have done in previous courses.
By its very nature, online learning has high expectations for students and teachers alike. When we are best prepared to recognize the unengaged student early and placing them on the road of achievement. Now is the time to take a peek at your courses and how to locate disengaged learners before they give up the outstanding online courses on which you work hard. Now is the time to take a peek at your courses and how to locate disengaged learners before they give up the wonderful online courses on which you work hard.
Roddy C, Amiet DL, Chung J, Holt C, Shaw L, McKenzie S, Garivaldis F, Lodge JM and Mundy ME (2017) Applying Best Practice Online Learning, Teaching, and Support to Intensive Online Environments: An Integrative Review. Front. Educ. 2:59. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2017.00059.
Schroeder-Moreno, M. (2010). Enhancing active and interactive learning online – lessons learned from an online introductory agroecology course. NACTA Journal, March, 2010, 21-30.
Resources on this topic
The eLearning Dilemma: Engaged vs. Unengaged Learners by Karla Guitierrez