Fall term is in full swing, and right now students are at their best in terms of motivation and anticipation of a good term and academic year ahead. In a few weeks, however, the motivation that students started out with in September may change to disengagement as the term progresses. Some students, for example, have the misconception that online courses are easier than face-to-face courses. This misunderstanding can cause them to feel overwhelmed and disengaged when they realize that their online courses are just as rigorous as their face-to-face courses. Now is the time to get a jump on ways to spot disengaged students — and what to do about it — before they give up and drop that fabulous online course that you are working so hard on. Here are some key takeaways from a recent workshop on this topic that I attended through the Online Learning Consortium: Strategies for Increasing Interaction & Engagement Self-Paced Workshop
Signs that a student is disengaged:
- Discussion posts are too short
- The student rarely logs into the course
- Little or no time spent participating in activities or interacting with other students
- Missing or late assignments
Disengaged students may feel isolated and reluctant to reach out for help. Here’s what you can do:
- Connect with students early and often at the beginning of the course.
- In your communications with students or in your welcome video, convey to students a sense of community and that the course is a safe space for learning.
- Encourage students to post their own introductory videos to help everyone get to know each other better.
- Assign tasks that involve teamwork, which can encourage the development of student relationships that keep students engaged and are essential for learning.
- Remind students of the many resources that they have through Ecampus, such as the Student Success Team, which include student services, exam proctoring, and success counseling.
What have you experienced in your own courses? What has helped keep students engaged, and what have you done when you have noticed disengagement?
Resources on this topic:
The eLearning Dilemma: Engaged vs Unengaged Learners by Karla Guitierrez