In March 2020, many college students were forced to transition to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic persisted, millions of students continued learning remotely even today.
And a recent survey of 3,500 U.S. college students by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators found that staying engaged while learning online was the biggest concern for students — even more than catching Covid-19 or getting a job after graduation.
Many factors contribute to students' participation, learning, and enrollment quality. Understanding the challenges in online student engagement is helpful to understanding traditional student engagement. According to a survey taken by the National Survey of Student Engagement, motivators to keep a student's attention are:
Level of Academic Challenge
The emphasis of a college student's effort and how high they set expectations. The level of academic challenge is measured by how many
hours per week a student wants to study and the amount of classwork that courses require.
Active and Collaborative Learning
When you want to know how the student is engaging in the classroom, you will look for them to ask questions in class, participate in discussions, give presentations, and work on group projects.
Enriching Educational Experience
Participation in learning communities, service learning, internships, research with faculty, and several other activities shows how a student uses what they learned in the classroom in the real world.
So, what are some of the most common challenges to overcome when learning in a virtual classroom?
Student Interaction with Faculty
Online students want meaningful interactions with their professors, but without face-to-face meetings. Online faculty facilitate this by providing opportunities for regular interactions that are scheduled and on a predictable basis such as holding virtual office hours, providing regular feedback on coursework, and providing information or responding to questions about course-related contents or competencies. Ultimately, for a student to stay engaged and collaborative, both the college instructors and the online students must be vigilant about their interactions.
Social Interaction With Peers
Virtual learners can't meet up for pizza or book a study room at the library, but they can create meaningful online interactions. Like their professors, online students need to think creatively about building social interaction with peers outside of virtual classes. Hanging out, networking with classmates and doing things such as a happy hour on Microsoft Teams or an online gaming night are still essential activities for any college student.
Collaborative Work With Classmates
Plenty of technologies now exists that makes it easier to do quality group work online and create collaboration opportunities which are key to a robust learning experience. It is not that hard to get in a separate chat or room to think with your peers creatively. Although, it may take some creative thinking to keep everyone engaged and stay on topic.
Communication Style and Speed
Without the typical verbal and body cues, it’s much easier to misinterpret something your professor or a classmate says. Tones can be challenging to ascertain when reading an email or forum response. Giving your professor or classmate the benefit of the doubt when reading something that may come off as unfavorable is crucial to succeeding.
Taking online classes may be a departure from the traditional classroom, but for many, it’s a change for the better. Online learning brings the experience straight to you, allowing you to work at your own pace to make a better life for yourself and your family. Best of all, taking online classes lets you integrate your studies into your schedule at your convenience. The flexibility online education affords can be critical to completing your degree and reaching your professional goals.
Now that you’ve learned more about the ins and outs of taking online classes, are you ready to get started? Request more information if you’d like to hear more from an admissions advisor about your online learning options at Georgia State University.