How to Make Online Courses as Engaging as Possible

Videos, surveys, and discussion forums are just some ways instructors can make online learning more exciting.

If you’re a university student, you’ve likely taken at least one online course during your degree. But at some point, you may find yourself expected to lead an online course yourself.

Today, teaching assistants, sessional instructors and professors will probably lead an online course or tutorial at some point throughout their academic career. However, while online learning may have become more prevalent, many students still struggle to find the forum to be engaging.

No matter how much experience you have teaching, all instructors face the same dilemma: how can you motivate students without face-to-face interaction? Follow these tips to ensure your online course is as beneficial for students as possible:

  1. Include video. In traditional classroom settings, students tend to relish any chance they get to watch a video. A good video offers the best of both worlds for imparting content: it is both informative and entertaining. A short, instructional video on your topic offers a wonderful and much-appreciated break from readings. It will keep students on their toes, and looking forward to what’s to come.
  2. Offer weekly discussions, or set up Q&A forums. Weekly discussions allow for students to have their voices heard. What’s more, discussions are an incredibly interactive learning method. Discussions allow students to get to know each other, and debate course material amongst themselves. Question and answer forums also let students clear up misunderstandings or pose questions about course content they may not have had the chance to ask otherwise.
  3. Send out surveys. Not sure if the video you asked students to watch was engaging? Worried you might have spent too long on one course concept, and not long enough on another? There’s no better way to improve your course than by asking your students themselves. Instructors typically send out a mid- and final course surveys. However, an e-learning format allows you to solicit and incorporate feedback more regularly if desired.
  4. Modify your syllabus. If you feel something in your original syllabus isn’t working, an e-learning format allows you to alert students to proposed changes immediately. Courses rarely run exactly as planned, which makes online education so conducive to how we actually learn.

Have any tips for making online courses engaging? Sound off in the comments below!

Featured image source: Ashford

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