Tools for Online Student Engagement

Why Student Engagement is Important in Online Learning?

Whether you are running a web enhanced, blended or fully online course it is essential to engage and interact with your students via appropriate technology. VIULearn is a tool for connecting with the students who are enrolled in your course. As a faculty member all you need do is activate your course and you can begin interacting with your students outside of the classroom. Students can access resources or readings you have uploaded, engage in discussions or ask questions.  

Promoting engagement in VIULearn includes your ongoing and purposeful presence in the online environment.  Research indicates that when your students see you active in the course site, posting weekly news updates, and engaging in discussion they may be more motivated to engage themselves (Anderson, et al, 2001Baker, 2010). Furthermore active engagement by the instructor promotes the growth of an online community, a safe place to learn and ask questions which ultimately leads to successful student learning (Shea et al., 2006).  

Discussion Forums: Chatting it Up Online

In a course which has an online component, making use of discussion forums (chats, conversations, engagement with students) is a core element of communication.

Some examples of ways if using discussion forums for engaging students:

  1. Have students introduce themselves at the start of the course
  2. Have students reflect on readings, videos or other content in preparation for discussion in class
  3. Encourage students to respond to each other's posts and reflections 
  4. Maintain an open forum for questions that come up throughout the term 

Integrating Social Media to Communicate with Students

Consider using a VIUBlogs site for your course to keep students engaged with the course material.  Students may also establish their own course blogs for ongoing reflection.  Blogs can be aggregated to bring various sites content together into one meaningful conversation.  

Learn more about: VIUBlogs

Popular social media such as Twitter are also being used within some fields of higher education. Twitter provides a quick way to connect with industry leaders in a discipline. Consider creating a Twitter list of experts or thought leaders in your academic discipline which can be embedded into your course site.

Announcements Tool to Update Students

The VIULearn Announcements tool is a great way to maintain regular communication with students. The tool enables you to create messages which students are alerted to within VIULearn. You can add images, video and web links to your news updates to further engage your students.

Learn more about: Using the Announcements Tool in VIULearn

Further Reading

Bart, M. (2012). Online student engagement tools and strategies. Featuring Content from Online Classroom. February.

Sull, E.C. (2013). Student Engagement in the Online Classroom.  The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 31, 2013.  

Online Rooms: Communicate Live with your Students!

VIU Online Rooms session view 1

VIU Online Rooms allows you to have real-time online conversations with your entire class, a smaller group of learners or a private one-to-one meeting with a student. 

Online Rooms operates much like Skype or Facetime, allowing users to access a shared virtual space through their personal computer, laptop of mobile device. Learners can access the environment from anywhere as long as they have an Internet connection. 

The Online Rooms tool can help you engage with students if the class is unable to meet in person at regular intervals.  Faculty may also use Online Rooms to run virtual office hours where learners can drop in and discuss projects or challenges.  

Learn more about: VIUOnline Rooms + Virtual Meeting Spaces