Tips for Creating an Engaging Online Course

Create an engaging online course. Here’s how . . .

To ensure online teaching success, student engagement is of paramount importance. As the saying goes, an engaged student is a motivated student.

Studies show:

  • If students aren’t engaged, they can’t perform at their best.
  • A sense of belonging to a group enhances student performance.
  • Online study groups help students to stay focused.
  • Having a place to discuss issues with other students increases student effort.

First impression

Start the class with a brief video introducing yourself as the instructor and your course.

Engaged = active and timely participation

In a 2016 survey of students taking online courses at Penn State World Campus, a student defined engagement this way:

For an instructor, engaged = active participation and timely response/feedback with the end goal of helping a student succeed. For a student, engaged = active and timely participation in an effort to understand the course material for more reasons than to pass an exam or get an A on a test, and to feel supported by the instructor to learn the material.

Timely response

Respond to student postings in a timely manner—in less than 24 hours, for example. Make yourself available to students during set office hours.

Amplify social presence

Post pictures of yourself and your students. It helps students understand they’re interacting with real people in real time.

Plan for collaboration

Provide a platform that enables students to talk among themselves. Have a way for students to collaborate on projects. Your assignments can draw on a variety of digital formats, including infographics and video recordings.

Conversational content

Are you using instructional videos to deliver content? Types include demonstration and screen capture videos.

In a demonstration video, you can demo a technique while talking to the camera. Consider hosting your videos through YouTube.

Tech tools needed: video camera, smartphone camera, or webcam

In a screen capture video, you record yourself as well as your desktop.

Tech tools needed: webcam and software (Camtasia, Snag-It, Screencast-O-Matic)

Polish your lessons

Make sure the education is solid. Be prepared, concise, innovative, unique, and available.

Have fun! When you enjoy what you teach, students can tell—and it’s inspiring.

Carolina can help

From kindergarten to college, Carolina has products to help with your online courses.

The new BBS3D@HOME maintains the continuity of the unit storyline you’re using in the classroom, at home.

Are you currently using Smithsonian Science for the Classroom or STCMS? SS@HOME and STCMS@HOME will maintain the storyline continuity at home.

Looking for hands-on instruction for your high school biology or chemistry program? Carolina Kits 3D Flex puts all materials needed by a student into one transportable kit.

If you’re teaching college-level science courses online, Carolina Distance Learning is your solution.

Carolina Science Online features resources for all ages.

Additional Reading: Teaching and Learning Science in the Era of COVID-19

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