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Posted November 6, 2020

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Engineers of Tomorrow is a not-for-profit that is shaping the engineering narrative by telling better stories. 

5 ways to keep students engaged online

Enable Education are experts when it comes to creating engaging online content, which is why we’re stoked to share this best tips with you today!

The recent onslaught of the work-from-home environment has brought about a significant move toward online interactions. In-person experiences are finding new life in a digital world as educators and students connect online. In addition to learning how to use online tools like Zoom, instructors must be creative in how they present lessons, to stimulate engagement.

Even for in-person lessons, keeping learners engaged can be a challenge; and the challenge is only amplified online. However, it is not impossible. When planned with intentionality, a lesson can become exceptionally engaging. Taking the time to think about your learners and mapping out a plan that considers their needs makes a world of a difference. 

Here are 5 things to consider to engage your learners in an online call: 

  1. Pre-lesson introductions

Every lesson is better received when learners understand why it matters to them. When you help your learners envision the bigger picture, and the place they can get to through this lesson, they will feel motivated to listen. Moreover, understanding why YOU are interested in teaching the lesson, and who you are, helps create a genuine connection between learner and instructor and increases engagement.

A great way to achieve this is to pre-record an introduction video that learners can watch before the lesson. But don’t stop there. As the lesson goes on, add in snippets both about yourself and about the usefulness of the learning. Continuously make connections between what you are teaching and how it can come up in the real world. In the case of engineering, a great route to take is to explain how the lesson can help the learners achieve something exciting in their everyday lives.

  1. Script your session 

Sometimes your best talking points come to you during leisurely activities. However, we often forget them during a presentation unless they were jotted down. Your presentation does not need to be fully scripted, but you should come prepared with some key points jotted down. It will help ground you if you are going on a tangent or find yourself intimidated by the camera. 

The key here is to have your key points in front of you during your online presentation. Whether you use cue-cards or a teleprompter app on your computer or smartphone, have the notes with you. Though you may not need them after all, it provides an extra layer of security and back up during your presentation. 

  1. Keep things short

It is inevitable to have learners that get distracted during your lesson or find it difficult to follow along, especially through complex content. Undoubtedly, this gets amplified online. They key to keeping learners engaged is to keep concepts short and clear. Providing mental space after each concept helps students digest what you just said and make connections in their own mind. 

Your breaks can be as small as a short pause, or a break to do a fun activity. Implementing small games after concepts not only helps engage learners and keep them entertained, but it makes a world of a difference for knowledge retention. For the best results, alternate between the two. 

  1. Have your rebuttal ready

It can take some time for learners to warm up to the lesson. This means that participation can lag behind, requiring you to put in more footwork as the instructor to start things off. Have follow up questions ready, along with ideas and talking points to fill silent moments. Keep in mind that sometimes, learners simply do not know the answer to a question. Have a fun story or concept ready to go to explain things in an exciting way. 

  1. Bring activities to life on video

Activities can create great mental breaks during lessons. However, it can be a challenge to bring them to life on video. In some cases, it can be best to pre-record a video of the activity and play it during your presentation. This will help ensure your best angle and description for the activity. 

If you know that a live presentation of the activity will make the experience more authentic, prepare for it before-hand. Have a locked off secondary camera that you can switch to when the time is right. Before your presentation check the view to see if all the tools you want are within frame and all those you do not want to show are out of frame. 

By being intentional and preparing your lesson ahead of time, you can ensure a cohesive and exciting presentation. Among each of these preparations remember to give thought to how you will present your learning content. Be sure to match your tone and enthusiasm with the feel of the lesson. Give thought to what points you want to emphasize, and how you will signify what is just a fun activity rather than a vital piece of information. Remember, having fun will help your learners have fun!

Authors: Klaudia Maziec and Rod Heinz 

Klaudia is a Marketing and Business Development Specialist and Rod is a Video Producer at Enable Education. The duo works on planning, scripting, and developing videos and webinars of all sorts.

Enable Education works with chief executives and HR managers to elevate and implement effective workplace learning experiences. They design the tools and experiences that bridge the gap between learning and doing, to keep your employees engaged and productive. To learn more about how you can begin working with Enable Education, visit https://enableeducation.com/.

Thanks Klaudia & Rod! We loved working with Enable Education. They recently helped us with our newest promo video….check it out and let us know what you think!

What other ways have you found effective for connecting with kids online? Share your best tips in the comments 🔽🔽🔽

For more about Engineers of Tomorrow, visit: EngineersofTomorrow.ca

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