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Improving Student Engagement In Virtual Classrooms

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Babaji Vidhyashram School

How Can Online Classrooms Engage Students? 

Engaging students in a classroom has become more challenging with online learning. While active students continue to be dynamic, technology has made it difficult for educators to determine if inactive students are engaged in the class. Educators can no longer read subtle body language or facial expressions on digital platforms, which are crucial for identifying disengaged students. Moreover, poor access to technology and concerns over digital privacy further exacerbate these problems. Unfortunately, all these factors have left educators reliant on asynchronous channels like emails to evaluate whether students are actually engaged in the classroom or not.

Technology might not be able to provide personal support, reassurance, or scaffolding to students. The result has led many educators from top CBSE schools in Chennai, like Babaji Vidhyashram School, to devise synchronous and asynchronous approaches to improve student engagement with online classes. Learn more about these strategies below.

7 Strategies to Boost Student Engagement in Virtual Classrooms

Discussion Mapping

The asynchronous discussion mapping method has become popular for boosting peer rapport and broader classroom discussions. Students are required to record independent answers to questions before participating in live discussions via video chat. When students are ready, teachers lead them into a live discussion where students share their responses within a stipulated period.

The teacher maps the discussion and asks the students to reflect on the entire discussion at the end of the live session. Among these are new things students learn from their peers and what they build based on other people’s ideas. Some top CBSE schools in Chennai, like Babaji Vidhyashram School, have credited this method with great success since it allowed students who were reluctant to participate actively in a live discussion.

Leveraging the chatrooms

Chat features on online platforms can be used to monitor students’ understanding of concepts. Educators encourage students to send emojis such as thumbs up or thumbs down to validate whether they understood the concept or not. This helps teachers to determine whether students are actively engaged in their classes. A random true & false question or answering math problems in the chatbox has improved student engagement and typing proficiency in younger students.

Flipping classrooms

A blended instructional method such as this is a great way to stimulate deeper discussion in remote learning. Before the live classes, teachers must send content like recorded videos and activities. At the start of a live class, students will talk about these concepts and divide into breakout rooms to solve problems. Flipped classrooms have allowed teachers to decrease time spent on direct instruction and instead focus on smaller groups of struggling students.

Virtual think, pair and share

Educators have observed that assigning students problem-based learning activities have fostered better concept understanding in middle school & elementary school students. Project-based learning gives students the freedom to research, experiment and pursue their interests within their subject area. A live collaboration platform such as Zoom can be utilized to divide a classroom into smaller breakout rooms for discussions. Tutors can keep track of their students’ learning by looking at the Google Doc where students record their discussions and learning.

A virtual show and tell

The virtual twist to show and tell makes unplanned participation in discussions easier for introverted children. For instance, an educator at a top school asked students to find a drawing or painting that exemplified intergenerational understanding. After that, the students were instructed to jot down their responses to questions like “what do you see?”? “or “what makes you say so?” These phrases break the ice and encourage more inclusive participation in virtual settings.

Forums for back and forth dialogues

You can use asynchronous discussion forums like Google Classroom questions to create an engaging two-way communication. As part of this method, students respond to discussion or reading prompts addressed by educators. In addition, tutors can ask students to respond to at least two of their peers’ comments to broaden discussions.

Virtual art gallery

A virtual walkthrough gallery allows students to view their peers’ work and learn from them. This method requires students to create a 5-minute screencast of their project. Students are then encouraged to provide feedback to at least two of their peers. Feedback is normally recorded on collaborative platforms such as Google Docs, where students respond to prompts like “What did I learn from this presentation? or “What I liked about it?”

Wrapping up:

Technology-enabled learning can bring about big changes in education. Engaging students can be a challenge in virtual classrooms, but the methods listed above can make education more effective.