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Distance learning experiences, such as online classes, offer hurdles to student involvement and learning. We notice low student engagement and increased attrition rates in online classrooms because of these impediments. But, in the battle for online student attention, engagement, and perseverance, we have a strong weapon: emotions.
Years of research and experience have led me to believe that the most significant impediment to online student achievement is the difficulties in establishing social and emotional connections with and among them. When we’re in the classroom together, we naturally interact with our students.
Smiles, eye contact, a warm and friendly tone of voice, and other types of good nonverbal communication are all ways we offer support and encouragement. We greet students in the hallway on our way to class or later that day on the pedway. We arrive early to class, stay a few minutes late to answer questions, and engage with kids in a variety of little social and emotional ways almost effortlessly. In an online class, none of this occurs.
Or, to put it another way, none of it happens as naturally online as it does in person. Connecting with our online students, on the other hand, can help them engage with us, which can lead to better engagement with our course materials.
When online students interact with material more fully and freely, they are more likely to persevere in the face of distance learning problems and complete our online classes successfully. So, how can you make internet connections? How do you encourage pupils to persevere and succeed? Designing with emotion in mind.
Emotions, as I’ve previously stated, move us. They’re intricately linked to cognitive functions including attention, motivation, and memory. When we don’t use emotions in online lectures, we’re overlooking our most effective weapon in the battle for student attention and participation.
Make class activities and assignments more relevant and motivating.
According to a 2009 study by Thomas Huk and Stefan Ludwigs, purposely adding material to assignments that engage students’ effect, or emotions leads to deeper subject understanding. In this study, a control group of economics students was given a case study with a few features that required them to start a new business and prepare strategies for its success.
Students in the experimental group were given more details and information to help them understand the case study, as well as a personal motivation if the new firm was successful. They were given the responsibility of opening a coffee shop in a specific city. Interviews with stakeholders added personal elements to the storey, and the students/entrepreneurs were promised a spot on an international trainee programme if they met a set of goals in a set amount of time. Unsurprisingly, the researchers discovered that higher emotional ties with the story’s protagonists, as well as a larger desire to achieve the personal benefit, led to more engagement with the economic principles involved. As a result, there was a better grasp of those principles.
To be clear, the study offered both cognitive and affective support in the form of a metacognitive component to the task that includes prediction, application, and self-explanation. Huk and Ludwigs discovered that combining emotive and cognitive support resulted in the best and most long-lasting comprehension of the topics. What struck me as particularly pertinent for online classrooms is that the researchers’ method of strengthening emotional connections in the experimental group was straightforward: they just presented a better narrative.
We can make more engaging online tasks by employing characters, developing genuine storylines, or including a personal incentive element to boost motivation. None of these methods necessitates the use of sophisticated technology, but they can boost intrinsic motivation, focus, and interest. Any strategy that helps us compete for the attention and engagement of our online students is a tool worth having in our online teaching toolkit.
Make use of technology to help students form emotional connections to the subject in class.
.In the aforementioned example, embedding images of a storefront in a representative area, as well as headshots and fictional biographies of the individuals participating in the start-up, into your online course would be rather simple. In fact, online classrooms make it easier to share media that elicits an emotional response than face-to-face classes, so take advantage of this benefit.
“Material that arouses emotions is more memorable than material that does not… YouTube, NBCLearn, and the media vaults of publishers give us new methods to show students—rather than merely tell them—the emotionally potent implications of what they’re learning” (p. 110). Use the easiness with which you may incorporate captivating images, video clips, narration, and other audio tracks into your LMS. This will help students stay interested, overcome distance-learning challenges, and succeed in our classes by bringing class material to life, strengthening those all-important emotional connections.
Create entertaining and enjoyable class activities.
Although some professors may object to having fun in class, joy is an emotion, and when we love what we’re doing, we’re more likely to be fully involved in it. Why not design enjoyable online learning activities? We avoid turning online classrooms into ‘edutainment’ when we make sure the activities are also closely tied to our learning objectives.
Lisa Forbes discusses numerous ways for capturing and maintaining student attention and engagement through entertaining activities in her latest essay, “Fostering Fun: Engaging Students With Asynchronous Online Learning.” Check it out for some tried-and-true techniques and tricks for making online classes more entertaining, and thereby assisting students in sticking with them and succeeding.
Increase student control and value as motivators by giving them more options.
Finally, the more alternatives we can provide online students, the more they will be able to take charge of their learning and choose options that are important to them personally, such as projects that are related to their personal, academic, and career goals. Students are more involved with their work when they recognise the worth in it and have some say in what they do, according to Reinhard Pekrun and others’ (2002) research. Wherever possible, provide students with a choice of assignment topic, structure, and other factors. When you do, motivated kids will have more success and perseverance.
Increased engagement, persistence, learning, and success will result from helping students interact socially and emotionally online. Indeed, one of the most important things we can do as online teachers is to assist students in overcoming the obstacles that arise as a result of the distance involved in online classrooms.
Ideas for Creating Online Communities Based on Research
- Create a welcoming environment where students can see you and your class.
- Explain why it’s critical to foster a sense of community in the classroom.
- Demonstrate caring and support by cultivating a real, human presence in class.
- Share your professional and personal experiences.
- Arrive on time for class and communicate with regular introductions, reminders, and summaries.
- Make activities that encourage peer interaction.
- Integrate conversation and use breakouts to develop multi-modal abilities.
- Create and teach in a way that is culturally inclusive.
- Limit lecture time to encourage interaction.
Building a community online from day one
A sense of belonging to the class–to the instructor, to the other students, and to the content–is critical to students’ motivation and learning. Such feelings promote involvement, which is critical for students’ success. Creating a sense of community with our kids appears to be simpler for many of us when we can meet with them face to face. How may we build an online connection? Faculty explored how to structure student interactions in their online course, display and control their presence in class, teach for inclusiveness, and convey caring and support in this session. To prepare for the discussion, faculty should study one of the following two book chapters.
Cultivating Connection in the Virtual Classroom: Sustaining Community
According to learning studies, having a sense of belonging and connection in our classes is critical for students to be engaged and persevere. How can we help our students in the virtual classroom experience a sense of human connection? In previous sessions, we looked at how to motivate students by having a social presence in our online courses. Faculty explored how to build authentic connections by generating meaningful student encounters, sharing our support, and cultivating a community of connected individuals in the classroom during this session.
How to Create connection and community?
Create opportunities for genuine human connection that will pique people's attention and encourage them to participate. One of the most effective methods to deepen learning is through community, which is a cornerstone of strong pedagogy, and teaching during the epidemic has meant harnessing the power of community to support deep learning. A sense of belonging can help people cope with their concerns and feelings of isolation, and it's also linked to higher levels of participation.
IS Make it easier for people to work in groups.
We know how valuable collaborative work opportunities are from personal experience. Did you try group work in the fall of 2020, but it didn't turn out the way you hoped? Or did you abandon your group-work plans entirely because they appeared to be unworkable? To manage online course cooperation, there are a plethora of useful tips and tactics.
How to Be a welcoming educator.
Do you have no idea where to begin on your path to becoming a more inclusive educator? There are a lot of things to think about and keep in mind. Here you can begin to look at some practical factors that will help you get started designing your courses and ensuring inclusion and accessibility for all students.