4 Ways Teachers Can Encourage Online Interaction

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 5.20.43 PM

The education sector is rapidly changing and adapting to new technologies. Modern days have made educators go above and beyond with their teaching skills and learn to use new tools to innovate their style and create a better learning environment for students.

Starting with correspondence courses and ending up with the apparition of MOOCs, education tried to bring closer students from all around the world. This has rapidly grown the number of enrolled students but the completion rate was really low.

The reasons for this statistics are various, but one thing we know for sure is that students need a sense of belonging even in online learning. It is in our human nature to seek communication and want interaction. And this is a part that many new online educational application lack sometimes.

If you are a teacher wanting to increase the interaction with students while helping them to learn online you have to identify the right way to communicate with students. You may want to achieve this no matter if we are talking about actual MOOCs or a custom way you choose to disseminate materials in a digital format. So here are some helpful tools which you can implement to encourage interaction and enhance your teaching skills:

Online Quizzes

Using online quizzes can be a good way to help keep your students on their toes. If you use them as pop-up quizzes at the end of a presentation, chances that students remember what the course was about raise considerably. You can find a tool to create complex online quizzes that will answer all your needs and results will probably improve immediately. Working with custom made quizzes is easier that to search for premade ones. Online quizzes are a great way to keep your students focused, to evaluate them and offer them the chance to test their assimilation capacity.

Feedback Forms

These can be a great chance to find if your tactics actually work. Feedback is a great way to find what students actually think of your course. The odds that they will fill such a form are higher if you allow respondents to remain anonymous either if you have personally met them or not. You can focus on data and put your efforts in finding what is relevant for improvement of your online course.

Surveys

You can apply them to discover the general opinion of your class, to learn about new trends and better adapt your teaching style or prepare new courses. Online surveys will generate statistical data that can help you reach further and understand the needs and requirements of present and future students. These are perfect for research, especially if you desire to create a new course and test the water to see if there is a demand from students.

Polls

Conduct regular voting and let students participate in decision making. For example, let them choose the projects they are about to do or the topic you will discuss on a special lecture. There are many variations, the important thing is to enable them to feel they are actually part of the course you are teaching and that their opinion actually matters. If you don’t have the luxury of adjusting the course as you go, you can add ratings to your course with grades or rating stars to learn an immediate reaction of your students.

Besides all these, you definitely need to show your students that they can reach you. Offering a valid communication channel will allow you to give a complete learning experience for your students. You can guide them towards a forum on the MOOC you use, a social group, an email list or other medium. The important part for your students is to know they can ask questions and someone will give them an answer.

Online learning is tricky but the benefits are tremendous so learn to leverage the benefits.

1 Comment

  1. Irene Paparizos

    March 5, 2014 at 11:46 am

    I found your post to be very helpful in encouraging students to interact within an online forum. Online quizzes, feedback forms, surveys, and polls give students opportunities to effectively make use of the internet while also providing teachers with important information that can be used to plan future lessons. In addition to the strategies that you have mentioned, I believe that wikis and blogs may also be tremendously useful in engaging students in online interaction and influencing them to use technology for learning purposes. With wikis, students are able to work collaboratively with one another in creating a webpage. Through this process, students become more active learners as they construct their own knowledge through research towards a specific topic or concept. Furthermore, with the capabilities of a wiki page, students are able to connect with people who live in other areas of the world, which will further motivate students to continue online forms of communication. Additionally, the use of blogs encourages students to engage in online interaction. While there are many uses for blogs, teachers can create class weblogs in which they list the daily assignments, important announcements, or links that students can refer to if they need more assistance with the content that is being learned in class. Teachers can also use weblogs to spark and facilitate class discussions that focus on concepts brought up during lessons. With these discussions, students go online to communicate with one another around a topic that pertains to class learning objectives and goals (Richardson, 2010). These are just two of the many tools that teachers can use to further encourage online interaction. I am curious to see how technology will develop in upcoming years and the learning opportunities that it will create for students in the future.
    References
    Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>