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May 13, 2021

Keep Online Class Engagement High with Virtual Best Practices

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For schools that strive for the best education possible, curriculum design is a mix of academics and technology. 

Online classes are only going to get more popular. In 2018, 35.3% of college students attended at least one online class. By 2019, that figure was up to 37.2%. That might not seem like a huge jump, but it’s almost 375,000 more students—or 16 times as many as the entire student body of Harvard.

As the US emerges from the lockdown orders of a pandemic, most college students are used to working and studying online. A shift is here. And, while any school can run a lecture via video-conferencing, the experience often falls flat. 

Students need more—interaction with professors and each other, a chance to engage with the material. By providing richer experiences, schools do better at preparing students for their careers ahead. 

Give your classes a competitive edge by making virtual learning as engaging as the classroom. 

Switch It Up

Take advantage of technology that lets you create a sense of space. Video courses can be sterile, and students—or their parents—are sensitive to gaining value from classes.

Alternatives are available in virtual campuses, where students interact as avatars. The first-person perspective of an avatar is already comfortable for many college students, who grew up with gaming.

The 3D space lets them move around, talk to each other naturally, walk down the hall together, form groups during class, or make presentations.

This multilateral engagement is realistic and gives students the opportunity to dive  into their academics. Compared to one-way lecturing via video, the ability to switch it up drives engagement, interest, and understanding.

Keep It Short

This one is simple. College students often juggle heavy course loads with work and family responsibilities. Online classes let them fit it all in.

Use a chunking technique to break up academic lessons or labs. By presenting information in short sessions, busy students can find it easier to absorb.

The customizations in a virtual campus let you experiment with different signals.

Maybe you take a 2-minute break to change your avatar’s outfit halfway through class. You might use music or Q+A interludes to break up a complex class topic. 

You can use any web-based tools with your virtual campus to make this easy on you, too.

Connect More

Shifting from video to virtual is the quickest, easiest way to upgrade your engagement. Video serves its purposes, but it’s a narrower platform. Virtual campuses actually feel like being on a physical campus.

The level of connection is just as real, too—and it’s vital to keeping your students engaged.

Extending the learning experience across different platforms can be useful, as long as it’s not too disjointed. There’s a sweet spot for every class. 

Offer Support

Learning complex subjects like calculus, physics, or philosophy is hard enough in a physical classroom. It can border on frustrating via video only.

Create a supportive learning environment with slide presentations, web browser references, digital whiteboards, live web camming, and more. 

In a virtual classroom, you can invite students to write on boards, present slides, or move into private areas for breakout sessions. These tools provide structure and context for complicated ideas.

There are ways to hybridize the experience for students, too. Offer virtual office hours for regular check-ins or special requests. Some professors create a class-specific library or archive room with the semester’s important materials.

Build Confidence

If you can weave natural forms of engagement into your school’s programs, you can make an important claim with confidence: Your students will be career-ready when they graduate.

Your programs might already be optimized to ensure students know the ins and outs of their majors. By adding a layer of technology that mirrors what’s being used at major companies around the world, they get the preparation they need—and might not get elsewhere.

Build greater confidence in your classrooms with engaging academics, labs, and more. For additional resources, follow Virbela on LinkedIn.

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