7 Ways to Engage Your Students Virtually and Safely
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged many, if not all, educational institutions into the world of virtual learning. Navigating the online learning world has not been the easiest, especially for those challenged where technology and Internet connectivity are concerned.
Nonetheless, the learning process must go on, and based on requests from university administrators, we have carefully curated a list of seven (“7”) ways you can successfully engage your students virtually and safely.
- Know and understand your technology
Traditional education does not usually incorporate online teaching methods. If you have not completed additional training to learn about online education, doing some research and intensive reading can benefit your university’s engagement of your students online. Mckinsey & Company recently shared valuable insight on how to implement and manage this process.
It is essential to keep in mind that you cannot just transfer in-person learning experiences to an online platform. Instead, the content and delivery must be designed specifically for online learning. With that being said, you must seek to get familiar with the device or devices that you will be using for lesson delivery and the various platforms that will be used.
The Zoom platform has taken over the scene with its easy-to-use video call features and its capability to be used on any smart mobile device. If you use the Zoom platform for your classes, everyone should be able to gain access to courses. It as also important that the changes are announced, similar to how Princeton University communicated its transition to virtual learning.
- Be creative in lesson delivery
Nobody likes monotony. So it comes as no surprise that students are not likely to stay engaged by sitting and simply looking at a screen for an extended period. Keeping students constantly engaged throughout the duration of the online lesson is crucial for the learning experience.
Get your creative juices flowing. Become a storyteller, ensure diversity in the delivery of your online lessons, and give students a sense of control within their online learning environment.
Keep your students engaged with a mixture of tactile activities, video, text, audio and other types of presentations. Think about how assignments can be completed outdoors, before the virtual lesson. Consider bringing on guests from time to time, and be sure to keep the element of surprise on the table. If you plan on using the storytelling method, know your audience, and try to tailor your storytelling to experiences that are relatable.
- Incorporate breakout sessions
Creating breakout sessions and still allowing your students to do group work can exercise the point of allowing your students to have a sense of control. No matter the situation, persons are always motivated and engaged when they have a say.
Allow students to voice their opinions and listen to those of others. When students are able to work together in a productive and controlled environment, they gain confidence in themselves, and it may even take away from the fact they are in an online learning environment.
Be sure to incorporate creative technology such as online game challenges and avatar technology as part of the breakout sessions to keep everyone engaged as well.
- Find alternate ways to give assessments
No longer are the traditional method of assessments the primary form of testing. Because we have to be socially distanced, coming into an examination room, and using pen and paper to submit a paper exam sheet may not always be the first choice during a global pandemic. Instead, professors and teachers should consider how remote learning will supplement education, even post-pandemic.
As an example, even the July 2020 bar exam, the licensing exam for attorneys, was tested remotely in a number of states.
You can use alternate ways to give assessment such as using Google quiz, allowing students to make and upload a video, guided by instructions and answering specific questions, being creative, having students create a podcast, and so many more innovative assessment methods.
Being flexible and comfortable with pivoting your learning style will set your students up for success. While professors and teachers adapt to this new environment, there health researchers continue to explore treatments to solve the crisis.
- Have meaningful conversations about what is currently taking place
Creating safe spaces for students to speak freely about what they are feeling and experiencing will help immensely. Now, more than ever, everyone’s mental health should be a priority. Everyone has been plunged into social distancing, having to deal with this new and deadly disease all while navigating the online learning world.
- Continuously encourage students to take precautions
Students usually take safety and safety protocols for granted, and since the onset of the coronavirus, many of them have developed incorrect beliefs about the virus. Encouraging and continually educating students on the dangers of the virus and taking precautions should always be part of everything they do. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (“CDC”) “Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education,” includes guidelines for which university activities qualify as low, medium, or high risk. Universities can leverage these risk ratings to assess which activities fit within the university’s risk tolerance and enhance safety protocols as necessary. Health and safety are a priority and the serious nature of the pandemic should be communicated from the university administration to the entire university community, including staff, students, professors, visitors, and more.
- Learn about and practice cyber security measures
Cybercrimes are now on the rise, especially since the onset of the coronavirus. Educating yourself and your students on the dangers of cybercrimes and the various types of cyber security threats will heighten everyone’s sense of the need to take precautions and protect their data.
The pandemic’s “Zoom Bonbing,” or as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) calls it video-teleconferencing (VTC) hijacking, was evidence enough to have everyone on their feet about the importance of encrypting their data and ensuring that measures are put in place for everyone’s safety online.
Virtual engagement in education is here to stay. The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced people to go virtual sooner than they would have liked, but virtual engagement is sticking around for the near future and can help you retain students at your university.
StartNoo can also help you increase enrollment, retention, and engagement with your students online. By engaging in real world experience through skills-based volunteering with non-profits, at StartNoo, your university can increase enrollment and retention while also offering a unique, alternative form of financial aid to your students.