Online learning has gone mainstream. Nearly all students now have some familiarity with remote learning platforms. However, educators often struggle to maintain student motivation and engagement in online courses. This challenge is not limited to rambunctious youngsters as mature adults continuing their studies or taking part in professional training may also tune out if the instructor fails to capture their interest.

Fortunately, innovative strategies for teaching and training can help instructors tackle online student engagement deficits and create a virtual community, even when participants are miles apart.

Use Multisensory Learning

Multisensory learning involves engaging more than one of a learner’s senses. Research suggests that learning through multiple channels helps students focus and retain information. For instance, an instructor may accomplish this in a math lesson by using blocks to incorporate touching, listening, seeing elements. 

Implementing multisensory learning in a virtual classroom might mean using objects most students have around their homes, such as beads or Legos. Incorporating captioning when offering audio/visual lessons can also help students engage in multiple ways so that they have a better opportunity to digest the information by seeing it presented visually as well.

Make it Fun with Gamified Learning

Gamified lessons can increase student engagement in online learning by adding elements like point systems or badges as a fun way to interact with the information. This instruction method offers real-time feedback and shows students practical applications for the material. Friendly competition is also a strong motivator that can lead to better engagement and retention. 

This tactic is not just applicable to young students. Gamified learning can support corporate training efforts by teaching employees to function as a team, improving onboarding experiences and developing leaders within an organization. Participants who are encouraged to work together toward a common goal can also strengthen their professional relationships. 

Ensure Full Access for Learners with Disabilities

Students and employees with disabilities may need accommodations to help them engage in their coursework and training sessions effectively. The need for accessibility applies to those who are Blind, Deaf and hard of hearing, those with learning disabilities and others. Audio description is a crucial tool for Blind individuals while captioning is necessary for those who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing. Offering captions can also help those who have attention deficit disorder, are on the autism spectrum or are learning or working in environments where English is their second language. In fact, studies suggest that captions are a tool that can promote engagement among all learners indicating that educators should proactively include captions rather than wait for individuals to request them. 

When it comes to professional training, companies should remember that inadequate accessibility will violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA does not permit discrimination against employees with disabilities and specifically lists training as one of the employment practices that must be accessible.

Don’t Be a Stranger

Video classes

Distance learning and remote employee training can easily feel impersonal, but they don’t have to be. Technology makes it possible for participants and learners to develop meaningful connections with their instructors.

Teachers can help forge relationships with students by providing feedback, checking in on them in a breakout room and ensuring that everyone knows they are available to answer questions and discuss the course material. Learning a little about the students or employees as individuals can also make up for the lack of in-person interactions.

Build an Online Learning Community

Learners who connect to their peers are more likely to stay engaged in their studies. Making friends in an online course might be more challenging than in a traditional classroom, but it’s not impossible. 

Instructors can encourage communication between their students by scheduling group projects or activities in online breakout rooms. Tools like Verbit can ensure that the students in those breakout rooms have real-time captions and transcripts that record their conversations. Offering word-for-word transcriptions of classes to students can help them focus on brainstorming and their collaborative work rather than on taking notes. 

Online learning communities can benefit corporations as well. Statistics show that 74% of professionals believe that working from home will become standard following the pandemic. Getting employees to connect in remote training activities can help foster company culture, even without the physical office.

Use Simple Quizzes to Get Responses

During lectures and training, instructors may want to include occasional questions or polls for the participants to complete. These do not need to be stressful pop quizzes. Questions may even ask opinions or answers in the form of a thumbs up or thumbs down emoji. Keeping the content of a mid-lecture quiz light and fun can help by increasing engagement in online learning and remote training sessions without causing stress.

Break Learning into Bite-Sized Chunks

Instructors should not attempt to maintain students’ engagement in online learning for hours at a time. Some educators suggest that most people will only remain attentive in a lecture for about ten minutes at a time. When young children are involved, the time limit might be even shorter.

Breaking a class into smaller lessons can significantly improve attention and retention. Starting with a video, moving to a lecture and then switching to an interactive activity is one example of how an instructor can keep students interested. 

Online learning offers many benefits for students and instructors. The flexibility of this format is allowing diverse individuals an opportunity to pursue an education. However, the professors  tasked with increasing student engagement online and instructors of remote training sessions need to be creative.

Fortunately, the emergency reliance on distance learning and training led to a plethora of innovative teaching strategies that today’s instructors can implement in virtual scenarios. Verbit provides accessibility tools so that educational institutions, corporations and others can support people with disabilities and improve learning experiences for all. For more information about Verbit’s captioning, transcription, audio description and translation services to improve online learning and employee training environments, contact us.