:Creativity / Working from home

How to use tech to keep your remote learners engaged

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The last year has been especially challenging for academics, HR managers, or workplace instructors of any kind. Although the pandemic may be waning in many respects, online instruction will continue to be a big part of modern education. Because of this, educators and managers must double down on their efforts to keep students engaged in the online classroom.

For many, leveraging the right technology and in the right ways are key to ensuring that learners of all ages and backgrounds—including college students, workplace trainees, and remote workers alike—remain engaged and present throughout instruction.

Today, let’s break down some of the best ways instructors can leverage technology to keep students engaged online.

Leverage interactive and collaborative tools

Given the rise of remote work, it’s more important than ever that instructors working with live or cohort-based courses leverage digital collaboration tools whenever possible. For example, digital whiteboards can re-create the physical classroom environment. They can also serve as collaborative hubs where multiple members on a remote team can share their ideas visually.

One of the best tools for this is Zoom, which has a built-in whiteboard feature that allows presenters to write text, draw diagrams, and more. Chrome Canvas and Google Jamboard are two other examples of the same tools, and they can integrate with Zoom and other communication platforms quite easily.

In many cases, interactivity and collaboration are vital to ensure that you get the subject matter across to your learners. Say you’re teaching about investing to a young audience. Investing is a particularly heavy topic, and it can quickly become boring if you don’t engage with your students. If you use interactive tools that require your students to engage with the class material, they’ll be more likely to succeed when they take a test or quiz. And more importantly, they will be better able to apply what they learn in practice. You can use tools that let you create a course in as little as 20 minutes, but your students will be engaged for hours.

The bottom line: Platforms that allow for interactivity are provably more effective teaching tools than simply listening to a presentation. Collaboration helps build teamwork and increases engagement to the benefit of learners and instructors.

Gather feedback

By the same token, instructors should make it easy for students to provide feedback. Zoom and other instructional or communication platforms often include feedback features, such as Zoom’s nonverbal feedback control.

This allows students to respond to lecture material in real-time through the use of simple icons like thumbs-ups or claps. This nonverbal feedback is just one part of the puzzle. You’ll also want to make sure that employees and students can provide more detailed and potentially anonymous feedback.

Google Forms, for instance, allows instructors and workplace managers to offer multiple-choice or open-ended survey questions to respondents. This is a great way to gauge employee morale and commitment. It’s also a good way to see if your lecture material is connecting with your students. Of course, you can always enable the lecture comments feature in Teachable so that students may leave direct comments on certain lectures or lessons. In addition, you can integrate your Circle community to your Teachable school so that you foster an open dialogue there.

Listening to feedback is one of the best ways to improve in-person or digitally, so take advantage of digital tools that let you collect feedback from afar. Constructive criticism can be a huge factor in making sure that you’re keeping students engaged in the online classroom.

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Use fun effects and aesthetics

The best webinars or class lectures are those that include a little flair. Luckily, Zoom and other communication platforms often allow you to inject fun effects, such as changing your background to become something more novel and unique than a standard classroom blackboard. And Teachable allows you to customize your school and your homepage, so that your business is exactly what is right for your brand and your students.

Here’s one idea—have a workplace digital security lecture live but require everyone who attends to make their video background something fun and exciting from pop culture. These little things can make a big difference in keeping students engaged in your online classroom. Just don’t get too carried away with the effects that you forget the basics. Be sure to check your audio and lighting equipment, as this can really impact how enjoyable your material is to view.

Build a quality platform

You’ll also want to make sure your website is as intuitive to navigate as possible. The best websites make it easy for students to access your offerings and content. Platforms, such as Teachable, make organizing your course lecture material and notes, easy. We also allow you to host video tutorials and other special resources for students that want to perform well in your remote class.

Be reachable online

Last but not least, make sure that it is easy to reach you. Whether you have one or more social media profiles, make certain that your students can shoot you a quick message if they need to ask you a question.

While it’s not necessarily wise to make yourself available 24/7—it’s still standard practice for remote education professors to have official office hours, after all—you should make it clear that students can approach you for assistance when needed. You can also consider using a YouTube channel to post free tutorials or guides for students. Or you can post exclusive videos to your paid community for extra support.

Social media platforms or other digital communication tools make it easy for remote workers to reach out and join forces on major projects. This is true even if collaborators are in different time zones or live across the globe. After all, the world of work is changing, and we need to adapt with it. Communication technology means that everyone is in reach at all times. 

Engaging with online learners in the workplace or an educational setting is more important than ever. We’re collectively working out the kinks of remote learning as we go.

Even though it may take some getting used to, technology can help smooth over the bumps in the road and ensure that everyone is able to communicate as effectively online as we can in person. Consider how these strategies can help you use technology to increase engagement and accessibility for your students.

Author: Nahla Davies, Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.

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