Adding Engagement

Designing Your Class to Achieve Goals and Objectives

After you develop your goals and learning objectives, you then have to craft activities that help meet these goals and objectives.

Basgen and Testori in a 2016 Educause article Socially Engaged Learning suggest a five-prong approach to this:

  1. Project-based learning that is scaffolded and collaborative
  2. Peer Group Work with synchronous elements
  3. Structured discussions
  4. Experiential Learning to add relevance
  5. Assessment tied to outcomes

Of course, your activities need to be organized.  In online courses, it is recommended that you develop weekly lessons or modules based on a curriculum schedule.  Within these lessons, you can have:

Assignments: such as a list of reading assignments, writing assignments, research, and other activities. Students can complete assignments at the time they choose so long as they turn in assignments before their deadline.

Lectures: online lecture materials can be provided  to extend learning beyond the textbook. “Lecture” might also include readings, PowerPoint presentations, podcasts, or videos.

Discussions:  discussions (either synchronous or asynchronous) provide an excellent way to engage students in the learning process, particularly when they are linked to other activities such as readings or research.  The key to good discussions is well-crafted questions and rubrics for evaluation.

Questions: in an online class, your students do not raise their hand to ask a question. Instead, you should provide avenues for questions, such as an “Office Forum” in the Discussion Board, criteria for email questions, or other forums such as instant messaging or socail media, such as the use of Twitter that I do in my classes.  Take advantage of the collective crowd wisdom and encourage your students to feel free to respond to each others’ questions.

Quizzes and Tests: along with other assignments, you may test student understanding of content and skills through quizzes and exams. Given that any online student will have access to the textbook or websites, one should craft quizzes that engage critical thinking.  Use of timed tests and random question pools can mitigate against concerns regarding cheating.  The online assessment process also allows for formative practice quizzes and knowledge games.

Group Work:  new tools expand the options for student collaboration and group work.  As with face-to-face classes, rubrics and expectations on participation and process can be very helpful.

Presentations and Projects: Student generated presentations shared with the rest of the class are excellent learning opportunities. This might be an online blog site or journal, a PowerPoint presentation, a podcast, a paper, a YouTube video, or videoconferencing such as with Zoom or Teams.