5 Ways to Increase Student Engagement in Online Education

Lindsey Seril
By Lindsey Seril on February 08, 2024

How can you be sure that your online class sessions are having the impact you want? The key lies in understanding and using the power of engagement.Student engagement is a key predictor of academic performance and knowledge retention. One study by Gallup found that engaged students were 2.5 times more likely to do well in school, and 4.5 times more likely to be hopeful about the future, than disengaged peers. Instructors agree, with 92% saying that student engagement is a key driver of academic success. Understanding and integrating these research-backed insights is critical for organizations and instructors aiming to make an impact through online learning.

With these findings in mind, let's explore five strategies to increase and measure engagement in online learning sessions.

1. Make Dynamic Use of Virtual Space

The human brain is wired to respond positively to novelty, movement, and change. Translating the dynamism of an in-person classroom into a virtual learning environment can significantly boost student engagement. This can be achieved by:

• Incorporate collaborative activities and small group work into class sessions.

Change up learner groups as frequently as it makes sense with the class material.

• Don’t cluster all the group work in one part of the class - instead, space it throughout the session.

• Use tools like Engageli's tables to change seating based on poll responses, thus maintaining a dynamic class session.

Sample Activity for Creative Use of Online Space

2. Foster Informal Peer-to-Peer Interactions

Real connections often form in the informal, spontaneous moments of training sessions. To foster this in the more rigid online space:

• Encourage real-time, water-cooler-type conversations that go beyond text-based channels like Slack and discussion boards.

• Provide both structured and unstructured opportunities for these interactions to support and include all types of learners.

• Use features like Engageli's table mode during breaks, coupled with icebreakers and timed activities to promote informal engagement.

Sample Activity for Promoting Informal Learner Connections

3. Incorporate Spaced Repetition

Retention of class content easily fades over time, particularly as learners are introduced to new material. To combat this, incorporate spaced repetition of content. Spaced repetition is a learning technique that involves revisiting and reviewing information at increasing intervals of time. This method is based on research which shows that people learn better when concepts are studied multiple times over a long period. To incorporate this technique in your class sessions:

• Develop opportunities for learners to review material in spaced intervals, so that they can access information just-in-time and apply it to their specific assignments or personal context.

• Provide the ability to return to the same space and the same materials to make new connections with the content.

• Offer persistent, always-on spaces like Engageli playback rooms for learners to review and connect with the curriculum.

Sample Activity Leveraging Spaced Repetition

4. Include Regular Retrieval Practice

Retrieval practice, a learning technique where learners are asked to recall and apply specific information from memory, is the most efficient method for mastery of knowledge. Implement this by:

• Use real-time polls to check learner understanding.

• Encourage learners to generate questions for peer groups or engage in Q&A sessions with instructors or subject matter experts.

• Use tools like Engageli for built-in polls, timers, and collaborative documents to facilitate this process.

Sample Activity for Retrieval Practice

5. Make Data-Driven Decisions

In virtual settings, where non-verbal cues and body language are less obvious, understanding diverse forms of engagement is key. To achieve this:

• Recognize that engagement manifests in various forms, even when cameras are off.

• Collect quantitative and qualitative data to iteratively improve educational content.

• Build and facilitate session content based on real-time and post-session data.

• Use analytics tools like Engageli to identify and replicate engaging activities.

Sample Activity for Making Data-Driven Decisions

Engageli: Your Platform for Active Online Education

For instructors looking to increase engagement and impact of their online sessions, Engageli's purpose-built design for active learning stands out. Below are some key features that make Engageli a helpful tool for effective online learning.

Engageli: a purpose-built platform for online learning


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Published by
Lindsey Seril
Lindsey Seril
February 8, 2024