With the virtual classroom becoming more common, educators need to find student engagement strategies that translate to a new ‘space.’ The virtual classroom has several significant advantages, but unfortunately, it can be much more challenging to get students to feel connected to the material and the class itself. That's why we've brought you the top five tips on methods and activities to engage students.

1. Provide Opportunities to Collaborate

The simple fact of the matter is that an online classroom can feel socially isolating. For many extroverts, the best part of school is the opportunities to connect with other people. To ensure that students are still able to collaborate on schoolwork, encourage group projects. Students can meet through online platforms, such as 8x8's video communications tool, to work together. Collaboration teaches students essential skills about working with other personalities. A virtual classroom doesn't mean all work has to be independent.

In addition to the group projects, encourage other forms of collaboration. Wondering how to engage students in online discussion? Make both posting a comment and a response to another person's post mandatory weekly. This can ensure a lively debate occurs every week!

2. Make Content Shorter

When you had students in a classroom, you had their attention for a longer period of time, and you controlled the environment. You could ask students to put away their phones so they could focus on the lecture at hand. Unfortunately, distractions are virtually impossible to eliminate for a virtual classroom - no pun intended! Your students can have other tabs open on another monitor, be on their phones, or talk to other people in their household during a class.

The response to this is to make your content shorter. You don't have your students undivided attention for as long as you did when classes were in-person; adapt to this new dynamic. Make your lectures and classes shorter so it's easier for students to focus.

3. Use Different Types of Technology

So, the big question is how to engage students with technology. Your virtual classroom can be fun and exciting if you use the endless technological tools that are at your disposal. Consider gamifying your classroom by awarding badges and certificates. Create polls that allow students to vote on the topic for the next assignment. Use a blackboard tool to draw during your lectures. All of these new tools can help keep your students engaged. Aim to use a new, fun tool at least every two weeks.

4. Communicate in Different Formats

We all understand that students learn differently. This is especially true when it comes to digital learning. If you're able, try to offer up your content in different formats. Mix up your learning materials in videos, podcasts, or lecture audio files, reading materials, and infographics. This will allow students to choose the format that appeals to them the most.

5. Provide Timely and Responsive Feedback

When it comes to online learning, students have to be incredibly self-motivated. It's easy to get discouraged and fall behind when you're learning online. Providing prompt feedback can help ensure students feel motivated to continue on. Whenever possible, try to give grades back within a week or less.

As soon as your students receive their grades, they'll feel inspired to keep up the good work or try harder for the next assignment.

8x8 Modern Communications for K-12 Schools

Your online classroom is only as good as the platform you're using. Schools need a comprehensive, flexible digital learning platform that will make teaching easy. Get your free, no-obligation quote today to find out if 8x8's communication platform is the right choice for you.