As implausible as it sounds, online-only classrooms are becoming a more common occurrence. It’s no longer just the realm of universities and tech firms; some nontraditional schools and small businesses offer online class as well. One of the biggest challenges these new online schools face is how to connect with their students in an interactive manner that’s validating and satisfying.
Sometimes, a classroom feels like a giant lecture hall, which does little to inspire any sense of connection with your peers or other students. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to build a collaborative online learning environment and encourage your students to connect with one another.
10 Ways To Connect With Your Students In Online Class
- 1. Find an Online Learning Program to Try
The first step in encouraging your students to connect is finding a good online learning program. It’s important that you find an online program that is tailored to your exact needs. Do you want a structured course or one that allows greater freedom? Do you want your class to be collaborative, such as through a discussion board, or would you rather have students learn more independently? While some learning programs are more effective than others for specific reasons, it’s always helpful to try out a few different programs before committing.
- 2. Encourage Collaboration with Online Group Projects
One of the best ways for students in an online-only classroom to feel connected is through group projects. Envision a collaborative class project in which students from all around the country or even the world work together. By giving students a chance to work with their peers, you’ll make them more invested in your online classroom and in understanding the material. These projects also encourage participation and dialogue, two qualities that make an online class feel like a valuable experience.
- 3. Use Online Tools to Communicate with Students
Students respond well to instructors who take an active interest in their education by connecting with them on social media platforms or through other online resources. Instead of sending out a weekly email or posting announcements on a website, try using social media tools such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to engage your students. Not only will they appreciate the informal communication, but you’ll also be able to keep a closer eye on how they’re doing.
- 4. Introduce Your Online Class to the world
When students think of an online program, they may imagine a few computer screens in a windowless room. This can give them a negative impression of your class and the quality of your institution. To combat this, you should use social media platforms that announce upcoming courses or online programs. You can even share videos or photos related to your online curriculum. Sharing these posts through platforms such as Twitter or Facebook will allow other people to learn about your program and may make them more inclined to enroll.
- 5. Showcase Student Work on Your Website
If students are interested in the online curriculum, you may want to make them feel more connected to the classroom by sharing student work on your website. This can be done through any of the usual means, such as via blog posts, photo posts, and videos. By showcasing all of the great things your students are doing in your classroom, you’ll also offer a glimpse into what it’s like to attend an online program.
- 6. Use a Class Forum to Encourage communication
The quality of student interaction depends on the quality of communication between the students. Classes that have an active forum will often have more lively discussions and more participation than those without one. This is because the online forum allows students to connect with one another without actually having to meet in person, which gives them an opportunity they don’t get in other venues. In order to use a forum effectively, avoid over-communicating and allow some personal time for your students to organize their thoughts as well as their comments.
- 7. Make the Online Classroom Have a Face
One of the challenges of taking an online class is that students can be disconnected from their teacher and lack personal interactions with their classmates. To avoid this and make your online class more effective, you should try to give your online class a face. This can be accomplished by using social media platforms that allow you to post images, videos, and other visual media. In addition to validating your learning program, it will also give your students a better idea of what it’s like in your classroom.
- 8. Show Your Students Your Expertise
When you take an online class, sometimes students are disconnected from the instructor and may feel like they aren’t getting as much out of the class as they hoped. In order to combat this, you can demonstrate your expertise by using a variety of different media. For instance, you can share videos or other visual media that show your passion for the subject and your teaching style. You can also share interesting articles that relate to the subject matter from reputable sources. This will help your students see you in a whole new light and may encourage them to participate more in discussions or even get excited about the online experience.
- 9. Use Online Learning Program to Your Advantage
Online learning doesn’t have to be a disadvantage for students. Instead of using the online experience as an excuse not to participate, you should use it as a way to encourage an interactive environment. Make this transition by emphasizing the benefits of participating in discussions and other group projects or by encouraging direct communication with your peers or other students in your class through chats, emails, or social media posts. This can lead to greater participation and more informed students.
- 10. Encourage Class Discussion Through Online Forums
One way to make your online class feel like an actual classroom is by encouraging discussion and sharing outside sources with your students. Use class forums to gather ideas from all of your students, and then use these discussions as a launching point for other lessons in the course. This can give the student-teacher relationship that is often missing in an online program.
Keeping your students engaged is the key to success in online classes. Use all the resources at your disposal, and remember that everything you do has an impact on your class. If they are not learning, they will drop out.
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