Key Strategies for Online Student Engagement
Learner to Learner
Learner to Content
Learner to Instructor
Actively establish your presence and engage students:
-engage before the course starts; you may want to offer an introductory video, discussion prompt, fascinating article or online text to prompt engagement
-promote student activity early in the course
- timely feedback to student questions, postings and assignments is key!
-engage in discussion groups and activities; guide conversations by striking a balance between being absent and being overly directive
-teach, model and reward critical discourse rather than procedural commenting
Use discussion boards in innovative ways:
- online focus groups
- group or individual blogging
- collaborative notetaking with each group's notes available to all others
-one-on-one discussion boards with each student
-group case study problem solving
- sharing of completed assignments for the benefit of other learners
- dialogue with university or community experts
- require regular contributions and follow up if students don't make them
Go beyond the standard tools - try some of these:
- livepolling(Alec Corous sheet )
- google suite - including for collaboratively developing documents or resource libraries (Justin Longo)
- videos (especially of things other than lectures; including role-plays, news clips, scenarios, experts performing professional tasks, interviews)
- 3D virtual environments, simulations and gaming
- student video journaling
Facilitate effective learner to learner interactions:
- include synchronous experiences such as webinars
- host dedicated online spaces for groupwork (such as Zoom meeting rooms) that can be utilized at any time
- establish private discussion boards for each student group
-plan interactive icebreakers which may make use of a variety of media (videos, pictures etc)
- place students in deliberately diverse groups
- encourage students to meet where they are most comfortable which may be social media platforms, mobile apps, etc.
Co-create with Learners
Engaged learners are active members of the course rather than passive recipients.
By allowing students to shape the course collaboratively you increase student buy in and build a strong online community with engaged students.
- Involve students in co-designing course structure and content
- Allow students to collaboratively "complete" the syllabus
- Create depository of relevant materials which all students contribute to (you could use Google Docs, Pinterest, a message board, etc.) Justin Longo does this using Google Suite.
- Provide categories of readings and allow students to select from within a category. Having students share their learnings from selected readings gives all students exposure to more content and varying perspectives on a topic.
- Allow students choice in assignments, texts, formats or mediums of information reporting , etc.
Self-directed Readings & Assignments
- Encourage students to reflect on and report or assess their own learning
- Incorporate self-reflective assignments
- Encourage students to identify their own knowledge base and knowledge gaps; use these understandings in subsequent activities, for example to groups students with varying strengths
- Establish partnerships and have students undertake work that contributes to those partner organizations and the community (Alanna Cattapan did this in JSGS 880)
- E-field Trips - can be augmented reality field trips or field trips taken in person (by instructor or other students) and webcast live with student interaction
- Data analytics, interpretation and visualization, especially when shared
- Student creation of course related resources (instructional tutorial, podcast, apps)
-Creation of augmented editions of key texts (i.e. digital critical editions of texts that track changes over versions, contextual information and provide links to related online resources)
- Use students' professional experiences as the basis of case studies and class discussion
-Host webinars or discussion boards that include current professionals as participants
- Have students apply theoretical content to their own work context
- Have students share assignments that explore their professional experience with the whole group
Engage with Professional Experience and Settings
Engage with Content /Data
Engage with Community
Problem Based Learning (PBL)
In PBL complex and ambiguos real life challenges are addressed by teams of students in a self directed manner.
For successful PBL online:
- work hard to establish a connected community of learners
- build diverse student groups
- take a supportive role as the instructor rather than a directive one
- give students many means of exploring problems together
- encourage students to use social media and mobile devices to connect
- use video or multi-media problem prompts
Consider a flipped classroom approach in which students view pre-recorded lectures in advance and spend class time discussing issues and working on their problem
Use problem-based activities as assessments in order to assess high level skills authentically. This helps avoid the common problem of assessment methods being misaligned with course objectives.
Case / Scenario Based Learning
Simulations / Interactive Scenarios
Cases can also be the basis for role plays or interactive scenarios. For example, some instructors use cases with legal implications as the basis for role played trials with students playing the role of defendants, prosecutors, witnesses etc.
Policy cases lend themselves to game or role plays in which students take on the role of various policy makers and stakeholders and collaboratively work to arrive at a policy solution. Jim Marshal, JSGS Instructor, facilitates a Treasury Board Simulation in which students play the role of decision makers responding to complex financial information, varied stakeholder demands, and changing circumstances to allocate resources.
Real world cases are often most engaging for students. Consider having students develop cases, especially based on their own professional experiences.
Cases can be used as the basis for live discussions as well as asynchronous written discussions, team projects and formal debates. If you will be conducting discussions about cases using written responses, provide students with clear guidelines and examples of what constitutes a thorough and constructive response.
In circumstances in which students are responding asynchronously to cases, they can be encouraged to provide linkages to
specific course materials when analyzing the case. You can also have students work together to create shared depositories
of materials relevant to the case with a social bookmarking tool.
Increasingly students can visit field trip locations through recorded or virtual reality tours. These can be existing tours you access online or videos created by you or students.
Also consider taking students on live field trips by conducting trips yourself, streamed live via webcast to your student group with the use of a Go Pro. You could also give students the option of leading a live tour of a relevant destination in their area with relevant commentary as part of an assignment.
Service learning can be done completely online. Identify community organizations that require work in the form of analysis, reports, drafts of policies, etc. that can be conducted at a distance and delivered as electronic documents. Assign student teams to partner with organizations and provide a finished product that contributes to that organization's work (like our Policy Shop student group does).
Alternatively, have students partner with local organizations in their communities to do a service project as part of the course.
Citizen Science & Crowdsourcing Initiatives
Have students identify and / or participate in existing citizen science or crowdsourcing initiatives.
Especially relevant may be initiatives which are crowdsourcing policy or citizen input. Students can checkout the CrowdLaw Catalogue to see if their are initiatives in their home jurisdictions they can get involved with.
Engagement with Practitioners
Students may reach out to practitioners in order to arrange shadowing opportunities, interviews about their roles or a specific aspect of what they do. These interviews can be shared online as video or audio recordings, reports, or transcripts. Interviews can even be conducted over a distance.
Practitioners can be public servants but also politicians, advocates, representatives or non-profits, public boards, etc.
In order to make a collective impact, the class could curate a gallery of interviews and share it publicly.
U of S Intro to Teaching Online Course (Available to all JSGS Faculty)
edshelf.com - a search engine and bookmarking tool for educational websites, apps, and programs
Find programs, apps and tools for:
Make Great Videos
Free to download software to record what you are doing on your computer with voiceover.
Online, easy to use video creation service with free plan.
Opensource downloadable software for screencasting best for those with some skill.
Online screencaster, easy to use. No download required.
Cloud based video and presentation editor offers free education accounts.
A social video creation site for education that can help connect online students.
Free open source software to download for audio recording and editing.
Online animation software with free plan. Includes a the ability to make whiteboard animations.
A strong option for easy podcast upload and publishing for free.
Popular audiosharing platform with a large built in audience.
Another free online option. However, the free plan has limited assets.
Adobe's paid software will give you the best results but has a learning curve and a price.
Coggle is an easy to use online mind mapping tool with a free plan.
A well curated resource providing beautiful modern images for unrestricted use.
A basic open source mind mapping program for download.
Collaborative white board app that makes for easy, illustrated mind mapping and more. (Free plan).
A compendium of music and sounds with creative commons copyrights.
A search engine of multiple image sites with varying re-use licenses.
Diigo allows you to collaboratively bookmark and annotate websites and PDFs.
Poll your students live, display results instantly in your Powerpoint Presentations. Free < 40 students.
Collaboratively bookmark photos, documents, web links and more.
Share documents in an easily accessible, familiar way.
Instantly get feedback or assess students.
Allow students to propose answers to a question and vote.