How To Engage Online Students Learning

It’s called an “introduction.” It’s for students who are just completing a program, for students in advanced courses, for students who are abroad.

How To Engage Online Students Learning

As our digital lifestyles become more intertwined with our education, it becomes increasingly important to keep students in the loop about what’s going on in the classroom and the opportunities to learn how to apply new concepts and skills to their everyday lives. For example, can you encourage a student to use the Internet to plan lunch breaks, watch video tutorials, or even grab their dinner? Are you a cheerleader when students try to study together, adding a little knowledge to one another’s experiences? Or do you make it a point to gently nudge them to learn something new at the movies?

In today’s multimedia world, we have a wealth of tools—to read, watch, play, and read more—that can serve as a bookend to our world, showcasing the day in the classroom. However, in many cases, we fail to use any of them in a coordinated way that can be paired with homework or homework deadlines to act as a stimulus or reminder for students to return to the virtual bookends.

The Positive Multi-Media Power of The National Portrait Gallery

In the NSG program with students from Virginia Tech, in 2014, we successfully integrated several elements that are commonly used in student-driven learning—multimedia, problem-solving, and participation—to help students engage online. The model, known as the “Compete” device, enables them to use QuickBooks software to complete actual work, taking advantage of software tools developed by the NSG to check and manage their bills. Students reported that they were more motivated to study and attend class when they used the Compete device. And they remained engaged throughout the semester.

Every year, NSG patrons across the country choose the Compete device, receive a one-year Passport Program membership, and the Work Bench provides a place for interactive learning opportunities, and a spot to show off to classmates and professors. By working together to test, learn, and apply their skills, students can help make a better world, and make learning a process that ultimately leads to success for students, educators, and students.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This program is available to all who donate at least $100/year to NSG. Visit or visit one of the 2017 NSG fundraising events to become a program patron.

In a research project that we recently completed for NSG, many students felt that the Compete device provided:

Stimulated and Accelerated Student Improvement.

Students, using the Compete device, had more control over their work, had a greater capacity to accomplish their goals, and were better able to inspire others to do the same. We can enhance our online education efforts by giving our students more opportunities to share their interests in the physical world with their peers through interactive technology. It’s a win-win for all of us.

Maryanne Roller is the Founder and CEO of the National Portrait Gallery and has been a self-professed happy worker since childhood. She has traveled to 112 countries with Global Volunteers, volunteered and supported organizations in the United States, and often travels to find activities for participating teens and children. She is the author of-Beyond the Five Rs, a generational exploration of the responsibilities of developing children into responsible, responsible adults. Roller, a dedicated researcher, activist, and advocate for children and youth, has a BA in human biology from Johns Hopkins and a master’s in education administration from Harvard University. Roller and her husband, Martin, live in the Washington, D.C. area and volunteer with Arts Alive Washington, where they have volunteered for more than three years. Follow her on Twitter: @maryanneroller, Instagram:, or Facebook:

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